Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Swedish Honesty

Having been here several months now, I have had the opportunity to get to know many people in Sweden as well as those things that you can only learn and experience by being here. These are things you wont really find written down anywhere and quite honestly they are hard to describe.

One thing that has really struck me is how honesty and morality has penetrated this society to such a degree. There are many facets of this society that I just cant see working back home.

For example:
  • At a typical Swedish Smörgåsbord you are given a main course as well as access to the Salad buffet. At one of the local eateries they have this setup that the Salad buffet is completely separate from the food counter and the rest of the staff. Now the honest thing to do is to purchase a main course and then take from the salad buffet and thats how I have always done it. After speaking with a few international students that are here temporarily I was surprised to learn that a few just come to the cafeteria with their own main course from home and take from the buffet gratis without a second thought. This is the kind of problem I believe you would experience back in Canada as well.
  • When driving to a supermarket or mall and parking in their lot, its up to the person parking there to display the time they arrived on their car so that if inspected, the inspector can confirm they have not overstayed their limit.
  • The subway system or t-bana is not policed and one can easily jump over the turn style and ride for free. Its expected that everyone riding the system will pay for the system therefore ensuring that costs are paid for.
  • While riding the t-bana a few weeks ago, someone had lost a single glove on one of the carriages, this was brought up to the conductor who then announced the disappearance of this glove at all of the next stations at least until I got off and possibly longer.
  • I forgot my digital camera on the bus on a recent trip. Not even realizing it was missing i was not concerned about it at all, however, someone has brought the camera to the driver and she was actually -frantically- looking for its owner. My camera and I were re-united.
There are also other things that are hard to describe however in general things are not policed here, its expected that people will do the right thing and if something is offered at a charge, the charge will be paid. I have to say I really like the Swedish system and it inspires me to try to live up to their high standards. Just like when you were a kid and told not to do something, you would try your best to do the opposite, is just the way that I believe giving people freedom to choose to do the right thing works here in Sweden. I think that of course there will always be those people that take advantage of this freedom but so far it seems to be working here.

Now a really good song that was part of the Svensk Melodifestivalen a couple of years ago by a well known Swedish artist Lena Philipsson - Det Gör Ont..which losely translates to something like - It Hurts.

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