Sweet Dreams About a Different Climate

This is, of course, about the diabolical julmust (a sweet Christmas drink), which has seduced so many young people and led them to embark on the broad road that can lead to ice chocolate or even toffee. You take a glass of Apotekarnes (Cola) in the school canteen and, before you know it, you are standing knee-deep in emptied boxes of chocolates from the post-Christmas sales.

It’s not as if the meal service has been tempting young people with julmust all year round. ”Previously it was overlooked, since Christmas lunch is served once a year”, reports SVT Västerbotten.

But now it is over, explain those responsible: ”We are following the advice that we should not have sugary drinks, our mission is to serve nutritious meals.”

SVT’s reporter follows up by wondering how, in such cases, meal services offer sugar-laden jam. Are other foods also about to disappear? No, came the answer: ”It’s all about drinks, and our mission is to not serve sugary drinks, foods that contain sugar, we cannot do much about.”

What to say? The natural thing is to not say a thing. Many strange decisions are made around the country every day and this is far from the most important or spectacular. Yet, I find it hard to let it go, for in this little tale, as I realised by pure chance, I think I can see traces of the ingredients that, in a way that is equally remarkable as it is unfortunate, have come to characterise our social climate.

I will start by addressing the conviction that degenerates into fanaticism. It is, of course, right that schools do not serve sugary drinks everyday. But here we are not talking about regular consumption, but allowing an element of a festive meal once a year. What are those responsible thinking they will achieve when they will make no exceptions and take a fundamentally sensible approach? The children who like soda will probably continue as before at home. Possibly they will take an extra glass and drink a toast to the freedom that exists beyond the real of the meal service.

This story seems to me to highlight the increasingly partial nature of conviction. Officially, Sweden is very careful that rules should apply equally to all, and should be followed to the letter – but only sometimes. In reality, more and more often there are rules, and rules; and also there are people, and people.

I read this news from the City of Birches with some sadness, but without surprise. Clearly it is in the canteen that the school system maintains its authority. As for in the classrooms, however, we know from a series of reports, not least the latest from the OECD, it is anything but zero-tolerance. Sweden is falling quickly when it comes to knowledge as far as the results are concerned, but when it comes to late arrivals and disturbances during lessons, we are at the very top. (Forgive me, Umeå, if you are the exception that proves the rule!)

More and more often, it feels like the official line of Sweden is not to assert authority where it is needed, but where it is possible to do so. Withdrawing julmust gives rise to some whining, but it is not really difficult compared to dealing with troublesome students who destroy the lessons for their peers. Or when the police evict people who occupy land and camp there against the landowner’s wishes. It is easier, then, to punish members of the kind and polite middle class who have forgotten to seek permission for a small modification to their house.

Now, there is surely nothing more to squeeze out of the Västerbotten anecdote, you might think. But yes, I sense a bit of a shift in formal responsibility also. In the television segment, it is shown that there exists some sort of instruction – or ”advice” – which obliges the meal service not to serve drinks with sugar. Whether it is the municipality or the National Food Agency behind it, we are not told.


Hederskulturens medlöpare

Första skottet gick in i pannan, det andra i käken. Hon slapp höra hur fadern upprepade ordet ”hora” när han sköt. Obduktionen visade att den första kulan avslutade Fadime Sahindals 26-åriga liv.

Solid foods are clearly not subject to the same rules. But is it really true that you ”cannot do much about” food? You cannot buy in other dishes instead? Or is there some ”advice” that requires the serving of sugary foods? I am just wondering.

This issue does not include ”Världens gång” by Johan Hakelius, and unfortunately this will continue to be the case. Soon, Johan will take over as chief editor of Focus and his new duties mean that he must be separate from the old ones. We wish him all the best in his new role and offer him a big and heartfelt thank you for all the joy of reading he has given us.

The follies of our times, however, will not suddenly be allowed to go free. In the next issue, Johan’s successor makes his debut. The vignette will be new, so too the signature, but the humour will be good and the style full of saltiness.

PJ Anders Linder

VD och chefredaktör i Axess. 

Mer från PJ Anders Linder

Läs vidare