From the Lefthand Corner: Norway Independence Day is a day of importance
"A toooussin Svedes run tru da veeds - a shasd by vun Norveegen" was a common comment around our quite Norwegian household.
It was even more common as the May 17 Norwegian Independence Day appeared near at hand on our wall calendar. We grew up believing that our little world was divided between those of us Norwegians and those who wished they were.
My father, who was one of the most tolerant and least prejudiced men in our limited farm community, was fond of saying that he didn't really have anything against the Swedes, he just wouldn't want his daughter to marry one. Dad didn't have any daughters. Also, I doubt that he would have had any objection when I married one last week.
Awhile ago Trump made one of his unusually unexpected remarks, saying we should encourage more to emigrate from Norway to the United States. Perish the thought! Most of my family was deeply offended. The few techies in my more immediate family immediately "wirelessed" our Norwegian relatives and acquaintances, advising them to stay put until Trump emigrates himself back to Scotland.
That gets us, finally, to the intended focus of this column, which is on the overall level of happiness of Norway's Norwegians.
Apparently, there is and has been an annual World Happiness Report. In 2017, the people putting together that document determined and proclaimed that Norway is now the happiest country on earth. It just surpassed, or inched out, Denmark as leader of our global happiness rankings.
Eric Dregni, a writer whom I don't know the whereabouts or pedigree of, decided to go to Norway to find out why. He traveled through Norway extensively, speaking their language and meeting directly with the Norwegians who are enjoying, directly involved in creating, and willingly speaking of their national state of happiness. He came away with five broadly construed reasons for Norwegian happiness.
1. Let kids roam free.
2. Let everyone roam free.
4. Share the wealth.
5. Embrace a communal spirit.
No wonder Norwegians are happier in Norway than we are here in the good ol' USA. From their beginning, they are encouraged to like and be happy in school. Education is paramount, but there are no grades or failures in elementary grades. Children grow up in a quiet, violence-free environment. Policemen seldom have guns. The second largest city, Bergen, has one to three homicides a year.
Norway is a land of natural beauty with its mountains, rugged coastline and vast greenery. Norwegians consider nature an important aspect of their happiness. Every city is close to wilderness, easily accessible by public transportation. The land of all is available for all to enjoy.
For most of my adult life, I've been a self-imposed minority of one by declaring our taxes should be higher, not lower. Now I learn that came from Norwegian heritage. Norwegians pay their high taxes quite willingly, because they recognize that they gain so much in return. They all get free education through college. They look forward to retirement with a generous pension. They know that if they get sick, all of their medical bills will be paid.
Norwegians gain happiness through helping each other. They seem to want everyone to do well, and are ready to give part of themselves for the well-being of the whole.
No wonder our Norwegian Norwegians are such a happy lot - happier even than the dapper Danes, and of course a lot happier than the somber Swedes and more serious Finns.