I went to Norway for 6 days.
* The country has been rated the “best” place to live in the world for six years by the United Nations
* In addition to the development of natural resources, there has been a steady building boom for several years. The country is currently sitting on $300 billion, thanks to profits from oil exports over the last decade.
* A hamburger at McDonald’s costs $US20, but regular food is reasonably priced and has real ingredients instead of high fructose corn syrup.
* Entrepreneurship in the high tech sector has increased in the last 2 decades (Seed Forum: Norway)
* It was sunny and warm — perhaps a great place to live in the future when global warming has flooded places like Florida.
* There is almost no crime. The tulips are perfect. The women are gorgeous. The men are fit and polite.
* Single parents get subsidized by the government as much as $50,000 a year to stay home and raise their kids, and the fastest growing immigrant populations are Iranian and Southeast Asian:
More info here
* Cable is a relatively new thing in this Scandanavian country. I am wondering if American values will change the modest tastes and habits of the Norwegians.
This is our second full day in Norway. The sun shines through the window at 7:30 a.m. as if it is 1 p.m. It’s a utopia here. There is almost no crime. The tulips are perfect. The women are gorgeous. The men are fit and polite. Not everyone is white – there are splashes of Middle Eastern, Asian and even a few black people here and there.
Something’s not right, though I can’t put my finger on it. Underneath the perfection there is a melancholy. Maybe it’s the other side of the sun. Most of the year here it is frigidly cold and everyone must stay inside their nondescript public housing blocks.
Do they dream about “a better life?” That oh-so ubiquitous consciousness of Americans? Or is life just what it is…in front of them and their only job is to live it?
As we rode bicycles through the immaculately designed marina, built specifically for people and not cars, past shi shi restaurants overlooking the Fjord, it was apparent that there are some Norwegians with American-style ambitions…and the country’s welfare system has NOT produced a bunch of lazy good-for-nothing citizens. Ambition is a choice, not a necessity. Don’t want to work? Well, you will still have decent housing and enough money to buy good food for yourself and your family. You WANT to work? Great, we’ve got plenty of jobs and you’ll be able to afford to live in a luxury penthouse on the water.
It’s not impossible here since most of the planet needs a resource that is abundant here…oil, oil, oil. Everyone here is wealthy with oil.
Does that make it a vice country? It seems we’re all making our livings on our vices. There’s no escaping it. Vices are scalable. And scalability is the key to any healthy economy – whether you call it capitalism, socialism, communism.
So, the theory is that Norway is a perfect place to just BE. There is no reason to ASPIRE to anything here, although that choice is available to those who are on that karmic path. Whatever you want to do or whoever you want to be, it is possible…which makes an American question the dogma of freedom that has been imprinted on our minds like the memories of clones in the film “The Island.”
“Only in America can one rise from poverty to multi-millionaire…” Is it true? Perhaps partially. But it seems in a globalized world, freedom is available in more places than The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave and Propagator of Mass Culture. The TV is all American faire. Martha Stewart, E-Entertainment, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Lost and uncensored reality shows dominate the channels…rarely do I see an original Norwegian show or film. It’s so disappointing, since watching TV is one of my favorite pastimes in a different country. Well, they do have their own original porn after 10 p.m., however. Apparently the country needs to beef up its population, so this is quite an important piece in the Norwegian propaganda diet.
Reading Maya Angelou’s “The Heart of a Woman” in the setting of Norway brings the extreme of struggle to the extreme of just being. She writes about “The world on fire” in the 1960s as blacks in both the US and South Africa fight discrimination and segregation. The struggle becomes passion as she meets a South African freedom fighter who immediately sees her power and knows it is the match to his own work over the years. She wants to deny this match at first because she had already chosen to live her life with a normal man with no awareness or cares about “The world on fire.” To marry him would mean stability and the end of the story she had started writing so many years before. To marry the freedom fighter would mean many more chapters…and to a writer, there is nothing more precious than THE BOOK.
I want someone who can truly see ME. I don’t want to just co-exist.