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BOOK REVIEW: THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING: IN SEARCH OF A BETTER LIFE. Anu Partanen   5 comments

Recently I posted this review on amazon and Goodreads. (Maybe as you read it, you’ll think of My Father’s House.

“The core idea is that authentic love and friendship are possible only between individuals who are independent and equal.” (p.50)

Maybe It’s personal. After all, my parents were immigrants from Sweden, immersed in a Swedish-American culture that constituted the theme of my own growth experience in the twentieth century. Or maybe it’s just that it’s so sensible. Maybe it was my parent’s encouragement of positive goals in life and utter discouragement of humiliating child training techniques. Maybe it was the belief my neighborhood encouraged in taking responsibility for one’s own life even while granting the same right to others. Maybe it was believing in a United States where that was possible for everyone. Maybe it’s what I know as a psychologist that the core idea of authentic love as described in the author’s opening is indeed the way of personal and cultural growth. And maybe it’s what I learned in my mature years that the freedoms I accepted were not so equally available to everyone. Maybe it’s the dream I still hold for a United States where one day the ideal will be reality. Whatever the reason, that opening theme clutched my heart with longing and joyful sadness.

Maybe it’s that I believe loving someone or something is open to accepting their imperfections and believing the good can be strengthened even as the bad is corrected. Maybe it’s that genuine love of my country includes the belief that, like an effective parent, I can help correct it for the good.

O r maybe it’s just that I have often thought how freeing it would be not to worry about being available to love and care for one’s child while at the same time being able to pay for sufficient food and housing, or the best possible education for encouraging individual growth and responsibility from toddlerhood through adulthood, or paying for the maintenance of good health, or not losing one’s home because of a catastrophic accident or illness, or being sure of a good healthy life in old age. How it would make sense to me to pay sixty percent of my income in tax if all needs were covered so forty percent would be available to me to develop my own creative – or just plain comfort – goals. How very practical. How free of unnecessary stress. How very much what the Nordic way has to offer, based on the idea that “authentic love and friendship are possible only between individuals who are independent and equal.” (p.50)

As for the author’s personal message and style, it is so clear that she has a fondness both for her native Finland and her adopted United States. And I love the way chapter by chapter she takes down the objections to the Nordic way.

I like the final conclusion:  “Individualism is one of the great foundations of Western culture. But unless society secures personal independence and basic security for the individual, it can lead to disaffection, anxiety, and chaos … While some of the praise heaped on the Nordic nations in the international media and various studies has surely been exaggerated and overpositive—no place is flawless, as Nordic people themselves will be the first to point out—the Nordic countries have undeniably created a model for what a high quality of life and a healthy society can look like in the twenty-first century.” (pp.328-329)

p.s. I’d be happy if you’d check out http://www.forgivenessoptions.com

 

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