I spotted the following headline in today’s Guardian:
Sweden closes four prisons as number of inmates plummets
Decline partly put down to strong focus on rehabilitation and more lenient sentences for some offences
I do not expect to ever see these words written about any country that places profit before rehabilitation. And, where revenge is rated higher than forgiveness.
The main headline of Gulf News, the English-language newspaper in Dubai that I find outside my hotel room door each morning, blared today the following.
UAE ranks 14th, ahead of US on human rights
This is the conclusion of a Norway-based human rights organization (the country that produced one of the Nairobi mall killers). The US landed at 20th, behind Germany and France. Norway won the prize, followed by Sweden and Australia. I not know what happened to Holland, Denmark, Finland, or Switzerland, to name a few nations that I find rather civil.
Anyway, the folks in Dubai are proud of themselves. That does not mean that any prejudices will be removed....
I noticed a headline in today’s London Telegraph, which claimed that “Swedes are more sexually liberated? This is a cliche, which seems to persist.
I recall an incident in my youth, which tends to suggest the opposite. I worked during one summer vacation for a music college, which held its summer session at a beach resort. I heard that two secretaries were being sent from the main campus: one English and one Swedish. Upon seeing them for the first time, prejudices that preceded them were confirmed. The English girl was dark-haired, tall, and slim. She could have been a fashion model. The Swedish girl was, of course, blond and shapely. She was more attractive, but unapproachable.
Proof of the cliches’ foolishness came quickly. The English girl drank, smoked, flirted, and partied. The Swedish girl was pleasant, but introverted. The key factor was revealed at the beach: the Swedish girl wore a non-revealing, one-piece bathing suit, whereas the English girl paraded around in the smallest bikini I had ever seen.
It seems that both countries prefer to hide behind cliches about their nation’s sexuality, pleased with what the world thinks about them. My guess is that all nations are the same, only the image is manipulated.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.