Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Sod it, I'm moving to Iceland...

Ok. Unless you meet one of the three categories below:

- You've been in a coma for the past three years.
- You're deaf, you can't read and you don't understand sign language
- You belong to one of those really cool undiscovered tribes in the Amazon.

You will know that Barack Obama became President of the USA on January 21st of this year. With him came a new hope for the future, though after eight years of that idiotic monkey, he doesn't exactly have a hard act to follow. Anyway, Obama's election made waves with the fact that he was black. I know I'm stating the obvious here, but let me get to it. But I still felt uneasy about it.

When I decided that I supported Obama, it wasn't because he was black. I tried as best I could to be colour-blind. I judged them on the merits of their policies and their track records and their principles. I don't believe anyone should be judged on anything except what they do, not who they are. I celebrated his election because he was a President with values I agreed with, not because he was black.

But saying that, I recognise the fact that forty, or even twenty years ago, a black man becoming a world leader would simply not have happened. And I respect the victory for equality that his election represents. But we by no means have an equal society. I mean, if a Muslim stood for office in this country, his or her chances of getting in would be laughable. But I was reading through the BBC's News column when I came across this article:

Johanna Sigurdardottir, named as Iceland's prime minister on Sunday, is
the first openly lesbian head of government in Europe, if not the world - at
least in modern times. The 66-year-old's appointment as an interim leader, until
elections in May, is seen by many as a milestone for the gay and lesbian

And the reaction of the Icelandic news agencies?

"I don't think her sexual orientation matters. Our voters are pretty liberal,
they don't care about any of that," said one news source.

Ok. People judging people on political merit rather than personal quality? I don't know about you, but to me Iceland is growing on me. More than anything, I hate discrimination. I hate hate. I don't want to sound self-righteous, but I try never to form an opinion of someone or something based on prejudice or stereotype. And it's difficult. Only this afternoon I found myself having to take back stuff I'd said cause I realised I'd been judgemental. It's not easy. But it's not impossible.

Imagine that. A society where there are no labels. I'm surprised that the first gay world leader hasn't had that much media attention. I think that equality on the basis of sexual orientation is improving, although I can see why the African-Americans' struggle for liberty is more powerful. Straight people have done some pretty horrific things, granted, but we didn't rip gay people from their homes and enslave them for four hundred years.

Still. Equality is equality. I have a new respect for the people of Iceland. Their music is pretty good as well (check out Sigur Ros and their song Saeglopur - turns out it's a beautiful language as well). What I'm trying to say is, this proves that equality is possible. That we can have a society where where you come from, who you love, what you believe, doesn't matter. It's no longer a dream. It's our responsibility to make it a reality. It's in our hands.

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