For 20 of the last 36 years, Iceland has had a woman serving as either president or prime minister. After the September 2021 Icelandic election, 30 of the 63 members of parliament (48 percent) were female. Not only do women comprise almost half of Iceland’s parliament, the country’s leadership is quite young, compared to the United States. The current Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is 47 years old. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, is 35 years old. The two women, by the way, left yesterday on a trip to visit Ukraine. If their plans came together as reported by the Iceland Monitor, they flew to Poland, from which they continued their journey by overnight train. I imagine they are in Ukraine now. I would find it fascinating to listen to the conversations that take place between them and their Ukrainian hosts.
Iceland is the only NATO member that has no standing military force. According to the CIA Factbook, 99 percent of the residents of the country are internet users. The same source says, “…it aims to provide a fixed broadband service of at least 100Mb/s to 99.9% of the population by the end of 2021…” Obviously, that aspect of Icelandic data in the CIA Factbook has not been updated recently. If the CIA is listening as intently as we sometimes are led to believe, someone with the Agency will take note of my comment and will take steps to update that outdated information.
I may be too old to be able to easily adapt to life in Iceland, but I am not too old to admire the country’s political and lifestyle leadership. Iceland is, in many respects, extraordinarily progressive. Yet, as I have written before, certain of its customs seem (to me) to be deeply entrenched in an archaic past that lives on in the present.
Most of the news media I scanned this morning seemed to have been written and/or edited (or produced) by the same team. Same stories, same slants on information, same obvious biases. Even BBC.com, which sometimes veers off the traditional news path, seemed this morning to mirror CNN and NPR and the Associated Press. Aljazeera is not quite as American-centric, but the English language version of the service’s internet presence obviously is geared toward English speakers. I wish I could read and understand Arabic and German and Russian and Spanish and various Chinese languages and dialects; I might then feel I had access to legitimate news; news that had not been whitewashed or otherwise cleansed of ideas and perspectives to which my government/societal “minders” would rather I not be exposed. I would love to feel sufficiently knowledgeable to be truly capable of making my own decisions about world events; rather than feeling very much like I am being led to believe what Information Central wants me to believe. I realize, of course, my sense of being subject to some form of mysterious “state” mind control must appear paranoid. And it may be. But I believe many, if not most, governments—from national to regional and even to the local level—practice information manipulation to the extent possible within their realms of influence. Too much curiosity on the part of citizenry can no doubt make governance more complex and far more difficult; much easier to derail that curiosity by manipulating and limiting access to “news” that serves governments’ purposes. I am not an anarchist. But as I age and grow impatient—as I watch my fellow citizens readily lap up bullshit from Fox News and CNN and MSNBC and a plethora of radio and television talk shows that probably are funded by political parties and guided by political and slanted social perspectives—I can imagine making the transition from hopeful progressive to angry anarchist.
Despite my festering anger, there’s an inexplicable gentleness growing alongside it. A sensitivity nourished by near-isolation in a forest. An emerging rebirth of my love for certain forms of poetry that acknowledge the beauty of both the natural environment and humanity…or, certain aspects of the latter. I find myself wanting to share that appreciation of what could be, what can be, if only we would collectively insist. If only we would gently but persistently demand that all of us lay down our weapons and behave as if we were, indeed, humans. Rather than demented beasts hungry to tear our adversaries to bits with our teeth and drink of their blood.
Last night and the night before I watched a couple of episodes of a documentary, narrated by Morgan Freedman, entitled Our Universe. The program’s videography and its special effects were stunning. The content of the narration was awe-inspiring. Thinking about Time and whether it has a beginning and an end…trying to wrap my mind around the concept of nothingness…considering the impossible complexity of Life and Matter and Energy and…Everything. It’s almost enough—but not quite—for me to understand the allure of religion; answers to unanswerable questions. Considering the spectacular nature of EVERYTHING! It’s enough to make me forget the pettiness of politics and religion and hatred. It’s enough to make me feel only love and appreciation…for a little while, at least. And then the feeling begins to fade and I long for a loving embrace; the universe wrapping itself around me in comfort and joy. Arousing in me a sense of pure amazement at even the simplest things. Pine needles. Ants. Helium balloons. Water. WATER! Volcanoes and gentle breezes. Pie. And pi. Today is Pi Day, you know. Mathematics is not a human invention; it is only a human interpretation of the natural world. Mathematics is an attempt to impose order and to understand the order that exists. Goats. I love watching baby goats play. Their behavior defines innocence. So does the behavior of puppies; and humans’ loving responses to them. But not all humans respond in that loving way. That realization begins to bend beauty into rage. So it’s time to let it go.
Today is the final day of facilitating my Articulating Your UU Faith seminar. I am not in the mood, yet, to try to identify whatever “faith” I have in me this morning. And, after that, I will learn a bit more about Constant Contact. I would rather spend the afternoon with a friend and let the day flow around us in a happy embrace. I do have some control over my time, do I not?