today’s world in my view – news from norway

Politics comes in gray gravitas, and politicians look like seasoned actors with Tears for Fears singing in a mighty chorus of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Simply saying, a majority of elected officials are charmless. But at least not Norway’s winning Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Stoere about whom I read from a newspaper this morning because his background and perspectives feel like, as it were, a fresh cool mint breath out of stuffy, dull air.

In the last two decades, the world has turned conservative and jingoistic in many countries due to economic and social changes. The liberals seem to clamor for ideological agendas that do not gain universal support without a structural plan concerning livelihood from healthcare to job security and social security benefits. For example, in the States, it’s all about ideology politics, not constructive reformations that attempt to narrow a wide gap of class stratification. In addition, American liberals are not closer to European liberals any more than the fashionably favorable appellation for free-thinking politicians. That said, Stoere, despite his being mega-rich with old money, has a clear vision for the universal welfare of Norwegians without antagonizing people of different classes. Stoere saw the vast difference of living qualities between the rich and the poor in France during his study at Science Po in Paris in the 80s and vowed to prevent it from existing in Norway. He also reassures that only the top 20 percent of the high-income individuals will see their taxes increased. Contrary to the vehement subjective political agendas vilifying the other with scarlet letters as an enemy of people prevalent in the States and elsewhere in the world, Stoere includes all strata with an ideal vision to match his practical campaign to distribute wealth among people evenly.

Stoere is indeed undeniably rich himself with the wealth that will support at least three generations of his family. It is also true that not many politicians pinpoint another country’s quirks and make an example out of it for the betterment of their countries. Social reformation of narrowing a wide wealth gap has been a duty of politicians since the age of reason. Still, it never comes to realize without determination and intention to make it happen. As a cosmopolitan citizen of the world, I vote for Store for being refreshingly innovative and nobly aspirational.

Braveheart

Beneath a new visiting sun
Sees a woman through tears,
Sorrow of the heart she feels
As it deepens into a sea of pain.

Beside her an ailing old woman
Lies in natural amnesia for woes
She wishes to send away in vain
When a life’s grip is relentless.

Fear crowded, tension soaring
Zealots of God clad in weapons,
Fierce eyes searching for victims
Outside is the terror reigning.

Demands of life, duties of care
A caryatid bears on her head,
She faces the faces of terror
With a brave heart for the fate.

Author’s Note: Yesterday, I wrote about my essay on the current situation of Taliban-seized Kabul in Afghanistan but still could not take it off my head because I felt for their fear for unknown futures. An article of the day from Reuters was about the ordinary Afghans who had to make livelihood even against a possibility of danger that lurks around everywhere where thousands of people are attempting to escape from the new Taliban regime, often futilely. Therefore, this little poem, albeit insignificant willy-nilly, is my small tribute to the brave ordinary people on the frontline with life in Afghanistan who are just like you and me. The heroine of this woman is another Me in Afghanistan who shares a similar life story.

Playing goddess fortuna

Aristotle averred that man is a political animal by nature. Anyone uninterested in politics is either a divine being or a beast considering his contemporary volatile political situations in city-states due to the Peloponnesian War. He must have noticed that an unstable government naturally spawned the populace’s grunts, usually in matters of economic hardship and arbitrary measures of civil conduct. That was millenniums ago; you might say, at least not in the United States, some might say. Then why are the scenes of the disaffected ancient Athenians overlapping with those of the disappointed Americans now at the end of this Pandemic Year like an army of living ghosts in my mind’s eye?

It all began with Covid-19 that showed politicians’ true colors, which are neither bright nor dark but only gray, grayer, and grayest. To add clarity to the grayness, the current tug-of-war in Capitol Hill regarding the Economic Impact Payment (“stimulus check”). The sudden news of the second stimulus check was a dim light of high hope for low heaven for most people whose livelihood depended on paychecks from work, social services, or other possible aid agencies. Then another beam of hope shone from the Congress that they would push for a higher amount of the stimulus check to be passed in the Senate. Woe betides anyone who believed in human kindness! The big wigs in the Senate thought that the increased amount of the check would be spent inordinately by people who would not need the monetary aid, such as the employed and others unqualified for whatever deemed unfit in the eyes of the moralists confusing coldness with principles.

As the Pythagorean theorem does not formulate life, no one can expect the exact sum of need, subject to individual circumstances. As in other countries, our political leaders do not have the right to measure their political rhetorics with personal egos in the guise of moral rectitude. They should not dictate what people do with the government-issued pittance because that the first and foremost a sign of totalitarianism over individual freedom. Once the money is given, then it’s up to the donee how it is spent, come what may. Besides, the amount of stimulus check is not as generous as the senate majority thinks. It barely covers a month worth of food, transportation, and some utility bills in most households. But then, beggars can’t be choosers. People want it, and they want it now to get by. Does the Senate know about it? I doubt it.

Those who regard folks in need of financial aid as the annoying mendicants mooching off others’ packets should know that the swift is not to victory, the strong not to wealth, but time and chance befall to all. The government should not play the role of the goddess of fortune blindfolded spinning the wheel of fortune, missing the wheel’s lucky compass to those in need of it.