Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lagom är bäst


There is no English equivalent for the Swedish word lagom, and actually there is no equivalent in any other language either. It’s very definitive to Sweden and the Swedish way of thinking. It's the idea that there is the perfect amount for everything including food, space, laughter, sadness and money. It’s described as "just enough” and rivals the extremes of consumerism, which Sweden certainly does not partake in. More simply put you are equal to you’re countryman; you're not supposed to be too good, or too rich and if you are you shouldn’t show it off.

I have seen this whole idea described as “well-disguised national pride and self-confidence” which I, in return, call a flaming pile of bull shit.

If you actually sit down and talk to a Swede for a minute they will be the first to tell you all about lagom and equality and how nobody is the best and it’s wonderful. If you stay there for another minute they will then proceed to tell you Sweden is better than the United States because of lagom. Then they will then explain to you, an American, that every one in America just tries to be better than everyone else and Hollywood makes us shallow and Swedes are humble and better than any American.

I know, right now you’re saying… doesn’t the fact that they are saying all this contradict their whole lagom theory?... in a word yes, but that is not where the contradictions end.

Swedes love America. They also take any chance they get to act like or be with an American. They watch reruns of American shows on TV and American movies in the theatre (neither dubbed). They also are some of the shallowest people I have ever met. They spend great amounts of money on clothes, make up, shoes, and bags. If you are one of the Swedes who do not have blonde hair and blue eyes you will be criticized by the others.

One of my Swedish friends had many troubles with this. Both her parents were born in China but moved to Sweden for a better life. She was born in Sweden, spoke Swedish as a first language, and considered herself Swedish before any other nationality however, any time the “true” Swedes had a drink in them they would tell her she is not Swedish, she’s just an immigrant and therefore inferior to everyone else. (This coming from a bunch of Swedes in America – yes immigrants themselves)

“Well-disguised national pride and self-confidence”, bull shit. They are the first to tell you their football team is better than anyone else’s, Sweden is better than Norway, Americans are superficial, and Sweden produces the best cars.

So where exactly is this lagom?

Is it hiding on one of the shelves of IKEA?

Is it tucked away on a coat rack at H&M?

Is it hiding in the trunk of a Volvo?

No, it exists solely in the imaginations of every Swede who was fed that crap from the day they were born… Swedes are better because of lagom…. contradictions and denial


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