Feeling like Clover

I don't often post about politics. Mainly, it's because I don't have the intellectual capacity to understand and engage. I therefore understand those who vote with their gut, because I do, too. But I do get impressions from the world around me and right now, it looks like it is reenacting "Animal Farm". I know that George Orwell wrote "Animal Farm" (and later "1984") as an allegory for the communist revolution in Russia, but the allegory applies to any situation where the leader of a change or revolution ends up betraying it. Everyone plays a role: The leader, the leader's right-hand man, the idealists, the purists, the skeptics, the counter-revolutionists, the followers.

It's been a while since I read "Animal Farm", but I remember one of the horses from the story, one of the last who could remember how it all started, but couldn't quite grasp the details of it, partly because she couldn't read. I have looked up a list of characters and the one I'm thinking of is Clover.

Clover, as I recall, was told, as the animal uprising against their human owner began, that four feet are better than two (with exceptions made for chickens). She happily agreed with that premise. Much later, she was told that two feet are better than four, which confused her because that wasn't how she remembered it. The revolutionary leaders, the pigs, told her she was mistaken, and, trusting them, she believed them.

The US, as of this writing, with Donald J. Trump as president, seems to be adopting changes and laws that remind many of us of the changes that happened in Germany under Adolf Hitler's rule, which lead us into a world war. Racism, protectionism and nationalism are on the rise. These forces are dividing the world into "us" and "them" and painting "them" as inferior, dangerous and unwanted. Like in Germany in the 1930's, it starts with skin color, then other ethnic or cultural categories, then financial class, then educational or political class… I think that's the order.

You see, I'm Clover. I remember being taught this history and how it started, what the forces were that led up to it and then allowed it, but I can't remember the details. I want to. I feel there is something I should know to keep us from derailing, but I also feel that the only way to find out is to read a world history book from start to finish, all over again.

There is another part of history that seems to be repeating itself: The Cultural Revolution of China. China is starting to crack down on religious citizens, on Christians, and it is also starting to "sort" people according to their accomplishments and income. It's the 1960's all over again.

The world is about to burn, and I know somewhere deep inside my brain how the match got struck. I want to remember so maybe I can warn people.

But like Clover, I find that the details escape me, the information that was once fresh has gone stale and even missing. And it worries me. My gut tells me we are nearing a cliff and we need to turn around. We need to remember we are all "us".

Threat or warning?

I always joke about how I don't make threats; I warn. That's because I don't believe in idle threats. I think if you threaten somebody, you should also mean to carry the threat out. So I may as well warn. It's a bit weird to write the above, because I'm a relatively harmless person. But let me give you my own little contribution to #metoo and the time when I had to issue a threat-warning.

Folks think Norway does things so much better when it comes to sexual equality, but there have been and are jerks and abusers here, too. And a lively debate about it, complete with derailing and strawmen. The men I know are good men, men I can trust. I have not attracted the worst of them, and I consider myself extremely lucky.

Then there's the co-worker who one day put his hand solidly on my rump as I was passing by his cubicle. I cannot remember how I reacted. I have a temper and I may well have given him a death-glare. Or just kept moving. Not that he cared. His had a big, self-satisfied grin.

A couple of weeks later, he did it again. This time, I whirled around on him. I know I used my death-glare and matching tone of voice, too. To his self-satisfied grinning face I told him that if he ever did that again, I'd go straight to HR.

To my surprise, his smiling face collapsed in shock, then fear, and he backed away, back into his cubicle.

I was surprised, because I didn't know if HR could help, and I wasn't expecting 161 cm me to intimidate all of 188 cm of him (he was more than a head taller than me, for you non-metric folk).

But I would have done it. I would have gone to HR, and maybe my conviction was what sold it. I still felt safe at work, I still felt I would be heard. I would carry out my threat.

He never touched me again.

With the #metoo movement and the discussion about sexual harassment, I have often wondered why my co-worker backed down instantly. My theory is, he wasn't expecting me to get angry. Because when I read about how women react, they typically have my first reaction. The one where we aren't sure what happened, and we don't want to provoke a larger, stronger man further. We try to defuse rather than defend. But getting angry is a natural and justified reaction. And so we have #metoo.

To my fellow sisters out there: I wish you empowerment, I wish you faith in yourself, and I wish you a death-glare that will serve as an excellent warning.

 

Daily prompt: Warning

Closed on Sundays

Here's a follow-up to my last two posts: The Indians visiting here noted that Norwegians didn't stay long at the office, leaving to go home to dinner with their families, and that on the weekends, the whole family did things together. The right-wing government insists that Norway wants shopping malls to be open on Sundays. We don't. That's one big reason why the left won so many counties and cities. Because parliament said they'd leave the decision up to the counties and cities. Heh.

Sundays in Norway: Fewer buses, fewer cars, fewer people. The only thing open is restaurants, the gas station, the movie theater and some museums and souvenir shops. You can't buy clothes or shoes or rugs or hair-cuts or massages or electric tea kettles on Sundays. Instead, you stay in and watch Tour de France or some other sport—or, as the Indians noted, you and your whole family take a Sunday walk or hike. Some people will even go to church!

The stores are open on Sundays in December to accommodate (and cash in on) the Christmas season. I went shopping on such a Sunday last year at my local mall. There was hardly anybody there.

We need the breather. We like the breather. We like that there is one day in the week where nobody is rushing around everywhere else but home.

We can get basic necessities in the way of groceries on Sundays; why does anyone think we also need to buy jeans then?

There won't be more customers. What customers there are will simply drift to the new times and not shop at the old times. We've noticed this when grocery stores started extended opening hours from 8 pm to 11 pm. The bad planners who would come in at 7:50 pm now show up at 10:50 pm. (The bad planners who want beer still have to come in at 7:50 pm. Norway and its alcohol laws deserves its own post.)

So we voted for the people who respect family time. We voted for the people who know that buying stuff is not the path to happiness. We voted for the people who know that the only stores that can survive being open on Sundays are in shopping malls, not the independent shops outside the malls.

We voted for closed on Sundays because we like it.