Saturday, 24 October 2015

Crossings (Friday My Town)

One day about a month ago, I went for a walk to seek out one of the more out-of-the-way street art murals. This litte adventure also led me through an obscure part a of town that I, not having a car, very rarely visit: A huge parking area under the motorway.



Amateur graffitti - not encouraged by the Town.
But of course we have that kind too!


2015-09-21 Druvefors, street art, parking

Professional graffitti – very much approved.



Friday My Town – Crossings

While looking at these photos, there are lots of thoughts crossing my mind - not really related to the photos, and yet this theme seems to underline them.

It has been a sad week in Sweden. I know it quickly spread to international media as well, so many of you probably already heard something about it.

On Thursday, a masked man with a sword entered a school in the town of Trollhättan. Some children that he passed by at first thought it was a Halloween prank (autumn break coming up next week). It soon turned out to be grim reality though. One teaching assistent and one student were killed, and two more injured. The police arrived quickly at the scene (only six minutes from the alarm) and the attacker was shot down. He died from the wounds later in hospital. The teaching assistent who died probably saved more students from being killed and/or injured. The police have found evidence that the attack was planned and the motive to do with racism, but that the killer was a loner rather than part of a group. (Investigations continue though.)

Together with Sweden just now being one of the countries in Europe receiving thousands of refugees every week (and some temporary housing planned for refugees also recently having been burnt to the ground), the situation has stirred up a lot of emotions and discussion.

The present socialist+green government and the four alliance opposition parties (previous government) have agreed on certain new/changed plans re how to deal with the refugee situation. (The extreme right party, the Sweden democrats, were not invited to even take part in these negotiations.)

Personally, the events at the school shook me a bit extra because it happened in my birth town, and even in the area of town where I once went to school myself at age 15. (I lived in a village outside town, but for junior high, we were bussed into town.) The school where it all happened now was not the same building, but that makes little difference. It still brings back memories. Even back in 1970, this was one of those suburb areas (then new) with quite a few problems attached. It seems to me that when a tragedy like this takes place, putting us all in a state of shock, people often react by saying things like “this could never have happened back in my day”. My memories of my school days are not all that idyllic. Yes socity has changed in many ways since then, and I’d say the general pace of things is higher now. But people are not really all that different…

We did not have computer games or cellphones back then, or even the Star Wars films (the killer wore a Darth Vader-like costume). It was also less obvious back in those days who might be a newcomer to the country (as most immigrants then came from European countries). But that does not mean that we lived in some sort of idyll free from antagonisms between groups, or free of alcohol and drug problems, psychiatric disorders or people with strange ideas (and carrying knives).

Where am I going with this? I hardly know myself… But reading/hearing various people’s comments and conclusions over the past few days, it strikes me that fear tends to spread much like random graffitti in obscure places, and that it’s really important in these situations to try and rescue some sober facts from obscurity, and paint a bigger picture to help our “selective memory”…


  1. It is very sad what happened at that school. We need to remember that although people are good for most of the time, nobody is good all of the time. But for the Grace of God, one of those victims could have been you or me; and the assailant could have been you or me too. I wonder why we tell people to be happy when what we need is for people to be kind.
    I can not imagine the thoughts in the minds of the people who are leaving their homelands and just going, going, going far away. And the reactions where they end up will become more tragic over the next two years. It will not be a good time for anyone. There is no possibility that the endings will be happy for most people.
    But we need to be kind. All of us and all of them. All of the original people and all of the newcomers. The old life has gone. The new community has a different shape.

    1. I agree, Louise. A little kindness often goes a long way. And the word needs to be upgraded to represent strength rather than weakness.

    2. Perhaps it is easier for people to be kind if they are happy.

    3. I need not look further than to myself to agree with that, Graham. But it works both ways, doesn't it... If people are kind to us, we get happier - and it gets easier for us in turn to be kind to others. The real challenge is to try and be kind even when we're not happy.

  2. What worries me is that with the number of attacks like this, and they're almost becoming common place here in the States, that people will become inured to them. We need to be shocked and try to find solutions so they don't happen again.

    1. I agree with this too, Janet. What kind of solutions is a tricky balance though, and much discussed here just now. Sweden has so far been a very "open" society and proud of it. We don't really like the idea of too many locked doors, and security cameras and guards in every corner. We should be shocked and grieved by every incident like this, yes. But at the same time remember that terrorism uses fear as a weapon.

  3. Monica, as you know, the entire refugees topic is top on the list of nearly everybody here in Germany, too. Munich alone has around 12.000 newcomers every DAY. I can not begin to think of the challenges that presents logistically, let alone on other levels.
    When I heard about the attack in the news, my first thought was "Had it happened in the US, the man would have been carrying a gun, not a sword, and taken many more lives probably."
    You are so right with what you say about the past not being all that idyllic. There were tensions then, too, between the "Gastarbeiter" and native Germans, but everything happened on a much smaller scale. Now, it's various groups of refugees causing as much trouble among each other as what is directed against them from the outside.
    I don't know yet how my country is going to handle the situation in the long run. But one thing is for sure: Things (and Germany) will never be the same again, and I suppose that's what can be said about Sweden, too.

    1. Yes Meike, the German response to the overwhelming challenge of the present refugee situation has been repeatedly officially appreciated in Swedish media. (Unofficially I can only guess that the opinions vary as much as they do about our own government's ways of dealing with things.)

      Remembering the past may not be exactly heartening, but I do think it can often help us put things in perspective. Here in Sweden, for example, most of us with a family tree going back a few generations, are also likely to find ancestors who either moved here from somewhere else - or emigrated to the US back in the 1800s in hope of escaping starvation and creating a better life for themselves and their families over there.

  4. we saw this story of the sword and the school and I wondered if it was close to you. now we know the full story. it is horrific and the sad thing is things like this are happening all over the world. i love the photos today, they are art... and the not professional graffitti looks pretty good to me.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Sandra. Yes, sadly acts of violence like this - and worse - do happen all over the world (or we would not have the refugee situation either). I guess it's our natural instinct to react more strongly when it happens close and/or involves people or places we actually know. Several anti-racism manifestations are also being held this weekend, in honour of the victims.

  5. On the subject of graffiti I have to admit to finding the "Selective Memory" no more pleasing aesthetically than the unofficial graffiti but unofficial art is always open to 'discussion'.

    The refugee problem and its causes seem to me so overwhelming that the reality is that there is no immediate solution to it and we must just hope that the politicians and the people they represent hold their nerve until a sort of equilibrium is achieved.

    1. It is hard to do that big mural justice in a photograph, Graham. I'm not a huge fan of abstract art in general, but I really liked this one - especially when contemplating the title. In real life it gives a three-dimensional impression with a rather breathtaking sense of height and depth. I don't know what the artist was thinking, but in my interpretation it seems to represent all the different "layers" of our mind (or memory) - and also perhaps the difficulty of getting the perspective right...

    2. About the refugee problem I agree. Actually I find myself more or less agreeing with a rather broad and contradicting range of opinions about it... as it is indeed a very complex situation. This morning on the radio some polical media people were discussing the recent compromise program agreed on by the government+oppositon parties; and on the whole I think I agree the most with someone who said that the ability of the six parties to present an agreement at this point was probably more important than the details of it.


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