Friday, May 11, 2012

I [heart] Sweden -- a new series

Those who know me are very aware that I am probably disproportionately proud of my partial Swedish ancestry.  I'm only 25%, but it's the largest part of the genetic and genealogical past my father bequeathed me.  So, there's that.  The fact that they tend to be tremendously cool, generally, is also part and parcel of the attraction.

Take the following, for instance.  I just learned via my handy, weekly e-mail from Nordstjernan that Sweden is introducing new bank-notes.  We Americans have been tweaking our notes, as well, over the last decade or so, but the tweaks have been decidedly...underwhelming.

Not so with the Swedes:


[The images on the bank notes are (top to bottom):  author Astrid Lindgren, poet/musician Evert Taube, actress Greta Garbo, film director Ingmar Bergman, opera singer Birgit Nilsson, and diplomat Dab Hammarskjöld.]

Can you imagine artists represented so publicly in the United States and internationally?  Authors?  (Picture Harriet Beecher Stowe or Edgar Allan Poe.)  Poets?  (Picture Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson.)  Actors?  (Picture Katharine Hepburn or John Wayne.)  Directors?  (Picture George Cukor or King Vidor.)  Opera singers?  (Picture Beverly Sills or Mario Lanza.)  Politician-diplomats?  (Picture John Adams or [a very alive and, therefore, as-yet-unavailable, but still...] Hillary Clinton.)

We'd never, and that's sad.  Founding Fathers are great, but they tend to inspire a hagiographical point of view that may be convenient for history book writers, but fail utterly when we try to helpfully isolate and celebrate the greatness of an entire nation.

But, then, we American tend to celebrate rich guys...more to our poverty.

Ironic, that.

[Image source via Nordstjernan - Briefs.]