No two ways about it: Hillel the Elder asks, “If I am not for+myself who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I” ?
It’s a holy thought, just as the selfish, naughty George the unholy, enthusiastically recommends the missionary position with only one aim in mind : to be on top, always.
But what’s good? What’s bad? What’s better? What’s best?
This nationalist feeling is variously expressed in so many ways.
In the beginning of “The True-Born Englishman” Daniel Defoe says
“WHEREVER God erects a house of prayer,
The Devil always builds a chapel there:
And ’twill be found upon examination,
The latter has the largest congregation”
All this excessive nationalism (some call it extremism – when it gets violent) but on the whole we Swedes are a peaceful, law-abiding lot and haven’t been to war for hundreds of years.
So we’ll begin somewhere in the middle:
Some call it protectionism, and what is this protectionism we’ve all been hearing so much about?
Is it good? Is it bad?
It’s still a matter of quality – and when it comes to excellence, crystal excellence, it’s said that Sweden’s glass makers Orrefors Kosta Boda are second to none. In the world!
As the bard asked,
“Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
if it’s really that expensive kind”
It’s called Swedish Quality. Gold Medal. It’s what comes to mind when you want to get a present that could impress an American visitor who’s got much of everything else. A present fit for a king or for Rabbi Jules Harlow or Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh or for your own wife.
Having boasted so much that even the erstwhile flip-flopping Hillary Clinton thinks that Swedish glass is nothing but the best kind of glass with which to decorate or furnish American embassies throughout the world, great is our astonishment and greater yet is our disappointment to hear by unreliable rumour that Charles Schumer says there’s going to be a re-bidding for the contract and that he’s sure that American crystal is going to win it this time. Nothing is official yet and hopefully Orrefors Kosta Boda is still going on at full throttle with their production to fulfill their contractual obligations. After all nothing’s been officially confirmed yet, and it’s really not such a big deal – only some $5.4 million worth approximately 40 million Swedish crowns. Nothing to go to war over. Or to recall the Swedish Ambassador to Washington, for consultations in Stockholm. (And now we learn that it t wasn’t even Hillary Clinton herself who had chosen Kosta Boda but that “Clinton’s State Department handed the $5.4 million contract to a small Washington DC-based firm who in turn brought in Orrefors, one of Sweden’s best-known brands.”
Perhaps the state Department should reconsider, having given their word?
It’s certainly not as pressing as Turkey requesting that the Swedish Parliament repeal the genocidal resolution that it had passed a few days earlier and that was official, coming as it did from the Turkish Prime Minister himself.
Ah, but when it comes to the impeccable Swedish Crystal it’s the principle that’s at stake. Personal & national fear in having lost Saab to Ford and then to Holland, and now with Volvo the national engine about to be taken over by China, LM Ericsson and Kosta Boda are among what’s remaining of our national pride, in terms of “Made in Sweden” quality worldwide . Of course we’ve got much more. We’ve got the most stable monarchy – and they’re doing some good work for the nation, in Brazil plumping for GRIPEN just now.
Along with the Monarchy we’ve got Democracy which they say was made in Greece and exported to other places like the USA, from where they are trying to export it to faraway places like Iraq – so that Iraq can be good neighbours with what’s said to be the only other democracy in the Middle East ( with due apologies to the Kurds)
Of course apart from the Monarchy and Democracy – and the fruits of democracy, there’s infinitely more that Sweden can boast of such as The Alternative Nobel Prize .
More about some of all that later and I’m sorry that I will not be able to do full Justice to the Greatness of Sweden but I take solace in repenting of such a fault in the assurance with which the rabbi concludes the shiur of the Weekly Torah Portion Tzav