Stories written by Jan Lundius

Statue Smashing – Heroes, Values and Racism

On Friday the 24th of June, President Trump announced he was skipping a weekend at his New Jersey golf resort to ”ensure law and order in Washington”, tweeting:
    I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues – and combatting recent Criminal Violence. Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country!

”Murder Most Foul” – the Death of Olof Palme

Just as the U.S. is haunted by the 1963 murder of John F. Kennedy, Sweden is troubled by the 1986 murder of its Prime Minister Olof Palme. The American feelings were aired on Bob Dylan´s latest album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, containing a 16 minutes long song with lines like:

Racism and Dominance

The #MeToo movement triggered worldwide protests that hopefully was instrumental in making people better aware of a continuous and often hidden mistreatment of women. Maybe can the current I can’t breathe movement make people realize that institutional racism is far from extinct.

The Bible, Donald Trump and Plastic

Another episode of the spectacular show that could be called The Greatest Story Ever Told: The Saga of the Trump Presidency, scripted and acted by Trump himself, took place on 1st of June.

Internal Migration: A Literary/Historical View

It is easy to generalize about migration. Populist politicians often portray migrants as strangers and ”our” homeland as a stable entity, rooted in an old agricultural society. When they do so they tend to forget that most of us are in fact migrants who have left that traditional farming community far behind and if it was not we who did so, it was our ancestors.

Freedom of the Press as a Guarantee for Human Dignity and Well-Being

United Nations has designated at least 170 specific days of the year as occasions to mark particular events or topics to promote the objectives of the Organization. 2 This might be considered as yet another sign of a supersaturation caused by the internet revolution. However, it cannot be denied that certain issues need to be globally recognized and amended. UNESCO has declared that the 3rd of May will be a day to remind us that media are in several parts of the world under attack, their independence are denied, critical thinking is considered as a threat and journalists seeking the truth are harassed, threatened, roughed up, or even killed. I would like to add that it is also an opportunity to acknowledge that communication, critical thinking, and imagination are essential parts of human existence and culture, if this is suppressed the entire humanity will suffer.

Public Health and Epidemics

For some time Wuhan in China and Lombardy in Italy were epicentres of the COVID-19 virus, something that has changed when the contagion is spreading fast in the US. A Lombardy in the grip of a deadly epidemic might among several Italians give rise to memories of their school days. For almost a century, Alessando Manzoni’s massive novel The Betrothed (I promessi sposi) from 1842 has been obligatory reading for all Italians during their last primary school year. A quite impressive endeavour considering that the novel is more than 700 pages long.

Haunting Forest Spirits – is Mother Nature Striking Back?

Epidemic diseases are not random events that afflict societies capriciously and without warning, on the contrary, every society produces its own specific vulnerabilities. To study them is to understand the importance of a society's structure, its standard of living, and its political priorities. […] Epidemics are a mirror, they show who we really are: Our ethics, beliefs, and socio-economic relationships.                                                                                                                                                           Frank Snowden 1

COVID-19 and Hope for a Compassionate Future

The Coronavirus, COVID-19, makes its deadly round across the world. People fall sick and die, communities and entire nations end up in its deadly grip and try to cope with it. Everything is changing, and changing fast and we all have to deal with it together, even if many of us are being physically apart. Humans are social beings. Our mental and physical capacities are created around that fact and crave for support and compassion.

The Need for Empathy in the Time of Coronavirus

The experience and interpretation of the Coronavirus pandemic oscillates between the personal and the general spheres. The official discourse and measures taken by authorities have a direct impact on our lives, change our daily existence and foster worries for the future. A dark cloud of uncertainty hovers above us. What do decision makers know? What can they do? What can we do? Many of us are secluded in our own homes, others in wards or hospitals, or even alone and far away from the ones they love:

Plagues and People – The Coronavirus in a Historical Perspective

The human factor is intimately involved in the origin, spread, and mitigation of the Coronavirus and we cannot afford to ignore that our future existence depends on compassion and cooperation. Response matters!

Personal Conviction Versus Fandom: The Case of Mitt Romney

The great American impeachment show has ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. The dirt was washed away from President Trump, the perfect Teflon Guy. Maybe his invulnerability comes from the fact that he appears to be more of a brand than a real person, adapted to a frame of mind that increasingly dominates social media – cheap entertainment, shallowness, vulgarity, invectives, and catchy phrases without support in well-founded facts. Trump is all and nothing, a shape shifting trickster pretending to be the role model for voiceless masses.

Globalization of Indifference: Ai Weiwei and the Refugee Crisis

Humans belong to a species that is constantly on the move . Since some Homo Sapiens 125,000 years ago began to move from the African continent, humans can be found all over the world, even in such utterly inhospitable places as the icebound plateaus of Antarctica. By moving, humans have tried to escape inadequate food-supply or otherwise unacceptable living conditions. Natural forces have forced them to leave, or even more commonly – violent actions by other humans. With them migrants have brought their means of expression and interaction, some of them expressed through their art.

The Death of a Courageous Journalist Reveals Malta as a ”Mafia Island”

Around 3 pm on 16 October 2017, Daphne Caruana Aruna Galizia was returning home when her Peugeot suddenly exploded 80 metres from her house outside of Bidnjia, a small town 15 km from Malta´s capital Valletta. Her son Matthew heard the violent blast and rushed out to find the smoldering wreck of the car on a field by the road: “I looked down and there were my mother’s body parts all around me”. Her scattered body had hit the ground 10 metres from the demolished vehicle.1

Gains and Losses of Irregular Migration

While opening a newspaper or watching a TV program we are every day made aware of the plights of irregular migrants. Some recent examples among many – on 24 October, 39 Chinese nationals were found dead in a lorry trailer in Essex. They had apparently frozen to death within a refrigerator container with temperatures as low as -25C (-13F). This while tragedies occur almost daily on the Mediterranean Sea. On 26 November, a rescue vessel found a boat almost completely sunken. It had three dead bodies aboard. Fifty-five migrants were saved. Three of them were in a critical condition, and one died after reaching Melilla in Spain, where the migrants were brought in. Three children were among the survivors, though a further ten individuals were reported missing. Nowadays, such news items pass by almost imperceptibly. Every day, thousands of unfortunate human beings are trafficked all over the world to suffer underpaid, hazardous work, or prostitution.

Evo Morales: Hero or Villain?

To be president in a country like Bolivia might be like a precarious act performed by a tightrope-dancer between “the Devil and the deep blue sea”. After 23 years as Bolivia’s President, Evo Morales finally lost his foothold and ended up as political refugee in Mexico, adding his name to a long list of previous revolutionary exiles, like Augusto Sandino, Fidel Castro, and most prominently – Leon Trotsky. The last one was murdered, though the others came back, something Evo Morales has promised to do:

Fearless Young Women and Insensitive Men

On October 11, the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee announced that this year´s Peace Prize is awarded to Ethiopia´s prime minister Abiy Ahmed: “For his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”1 Let us hope that Abiy remains a worthy Peace Prize winner and that warfare and human suffering on the Horn of Africa will finally come to an end.

Justin Trudeau´s Blackface

Politics is a dodgy game, maybe even more so if you represent political views based on a moral approach. When the charismatic Justin Trudeau, son of a cosmopolitan liberal who served as Canada´s Prime Minister for 16 years, in 2015 was elected Prime Minister it was within a global political climate different from what it is today. Barack Obama was in the White House, Angela Merkel served her third period as German Chancellor, and the UK Government had not yet announced its country's withdrawal from the EU. Nevertheless, Russia had three months before Trudeau´s election annexed Crimea, while Viktor Orbán´s Hungarian government the month before initiated the construction of a 4 metres high barrier along its nation´s eastern and southern borders to keep immigrants out.

How Media Technocrats Manipulate Public Opinion

In a 1974 article, Woody Allen poked fun at biblical stories presenting ludicrous paraphrases of The Book of Job, Abraham´s intended sacrifice of his son Isaac, as well as The Book of Proverbs. One of Allen´s invented proverbs was: “The wicked at heart probably know something”, thus implementing that the “pure of heart”, i.e. credulous people, know nothing. 1

Jersey, a Gorilla and the Civil War in Cameroon

A month ago I visited Jersey, one of the few European territories still welcoming refugees, though in the case of Jersey they have to be wealthy and are generally fleeing not from war and misery, but from taxes. Once Jersey and the nearby island of Guernsey harbored one of Europe´s most famous political refugees – Victor Hugo (1802-1885), who after he had been too outspoken in his criticism of the autocrat Louis Napoleon found it more convenient to live on the Channel Islands than in France. In spite of being very close to France and with a population that at the time was mainly French-speaking, these islands were nevertheless British territory.

A New World? Are the Americas Returning to Old Problems?

When I in 1980 first arrived in America it was a new world to me. I went from New York to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and like so many visitors and migrants before me I was overwhelmed by both familiar and strange impressions. Familiar due to books I had read and movies I had seen, strange since I encountered unexpected things and new because both I and several of those I met compared themselves to the “old world”, i.e. Euroasia and parts of Africa.

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