My Opinion: Jón Gnarr - Many People Are Becoming Pretty Crazy

By Jón Gnarr
Jón Gnarr.
Jón Gnarr. Vísir/Stefán
Iceland has big problems. We face complicated tasks; currency restrictions, health care, purchasing power and poverty, housing problems, and then there is the whole financial system. Tourism has increased and now more than a million tourists visit the country every year. Tourists are our main source of foreign exchange earnings. But at the same time we have a new problem – because there is always a bad side. While we welcome interesting visitors, we worry about the crowds and possible damages at the most popular sites. And no two people agree on everything. People disagree about how to solve all these problems. And as always, those who have the best solutions are those who are least involved.

In Iceland, there is a whole class of experts who have no experience in their field of expertise. Many have a master’s degree in running a store, but haven’t even worked in a kiosk. On top of this are the media with their subjective evaluation of what is newsworthy and how to report it. Deliberation is on the wane and exclamations and generalizations are more common. Many people are becoming pretty crazy and the nation is split into different movements and subgroups. Trust is decreasing. People don’t want those they chose to govern the country to govern it, but rather the ones they did not choose. It is no wonder that politics are constantly becoming more like a farce by Dario Fo. Some people have said that there is no need to write the New Year’s Comedy show anymore because it is writing itself, that we are not watching it but acting in it and that it is directed by the Devil himself.

The Experienced Woman

“How can so boring an existence thrive in such a beautiful country?” asked a very experienced and intelligent woman recently. I have to admit that I did not know the answer. I don’t quite get it. I often wonder what the problem is in Iceland. We seem to have plenty of everything. There is enough space here. Iceland is a beautiful, wealthy country. We don’t need to heat the water, because it wells up from the earth by itself. Most people have access to a warm swimming pool within a walking distance. The quality of life in Iceland has long been good, and the living conditions. Here, enterprising people have a lot of opportunities. The Icelandic community is good compared with many others. We are a peaceful people and we base our community on an age-old culture, although not everyone agrees on what its substance or nature is.

We are energetic and hard-working and usually resourceful and dynamic, and quick to adjust to changes and to deal with all kinds of ominous weather. We quickly adopt new technology. General education is good, whether formal or not, and quizzes are one of the main national sports. Icelanders are not only very flexible in one of the most rugged environments in the inhabited world, they are also usually happy. It is somehow inherent in us to be optimistic, and to wait for the weather to get better. We welcome guests and we are considered friendly and hospitable.

If Polite and Neat We Are Invincible

But what is the matter then? I think we are lacking in communication skills. That’s the weak link. We need to emphasize communication in society, in the culture, in the schools. We need civilization. We have even flirted with the opposite: aggressiveness, arrogance and overbearing behavior. The pushy guy has been our role model in so many ways, and we have so often shown him apprehensive respect and trusted him. When it comes to this, we are a primitive society. We need more refinement in our culture. We need less respect for monolog and more respect for dialog. The present and the future require ever more skills in human interaction and conduct. Now, it is no longer enough to be clever, efficient and adept in your profession. You also have to be able to talk to people and work with others and share information. What we really need is a cultivated awakening.

I think we can easily do this because we are so dynamic and quick to adjust. By this, we could create a better community and be more successful. Service in Iceland has, for example, changed a lot during my lifetime. When I was growing up anti-service was the norm and rudeness was an integral part of business. We need to talk more about this. Companies overhaul their communications and create service policies. And thus they become better and more competent companies and usually become more successful. Can we not do something similar as a nation? We are just over 300 thousand people. And everybody is on Facebook. We need to find a way to balance the national spirit. Then we can start talking to find viable solutions to all these complicated problems. If we are well educated, diligent, positive, polite and neat, then we are invincible. No matter how the weather is.

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