The Viking chieftain in this picture is me. He’s a determined man, solving conflicts at the quarterly gathering, called Ting. Even though this Viking chieftain is a warlord you might think I’m going to write about Vikings as warriors. No. Not this time. I want to put light on other aspects of the Viking era, (ca 780 – 1066 A.D.) and compare it with today’s situation. The Vikings were mainly farmers, working their soil, carpenters, smiths or other craftsmen. Some of them also went abroad on journeys as merchants, explorers or thugs. Sometimes all of that. The new lands the Vikings came to and the people they met also influenced them. They learned about styrrups on their horses to stabilize their riding, new tools, fashion and beliefs. We Scandinavians also influenced others, both good and bad. The mutual influences is what I want to describe today.
Through the centuries and millennia we humans have been travelling and interacting with each other. In every single group of people ideas and concepts have grown and developed. The pride we feel for our family and the place we live in, for our people is mostly something good. We have every right to feel that pride and commemorate both old and new ways. What we mustn’t forget though is that we always take in new influences and influence others in a constant wheel of interaction and that nothing is static. We should be proud of that mutual way of dealing with each other too and realise the strength in that.
Today I see how many people gather in smaller groups, in protection against others that do not belong to them. This enclavisation in protection and fear of others I see everywhere. It has turned into a nationalism and a local patriotism that puts people against people. Love of the own family is good, mostly, a feeling of love and pride for the place we live in too, unless it’s exaggerated and discard other places, nationalism is good too, when it’s well balanced.
The Viking chieftain in the picture above is me. I’m proud of my Scandinavian heritage, but I also firmly believe in that we must meet with and respectfully interact with poeple irrespective of their background. The wisest Vikings knew that. That is the Viking in me.
Anders Moberg, November 27th 2012