My two-and-three-quarters-year-old daughter called us together for a samling this morning. She had a pile of Easter basket grass and wanted us to taste her imaginary pasta.
Now a samling is a nice Swedish word that means gathering more than meeting. They have a samling every morning at her daycare; in America it would be song time, or something, but that does not have the power of this word.
Gathering has such a nice collectivist touch. I thought I could participate in the making of the imaginary pasta.
I was wrong.
In reality, samling means that you gather and then one person runs the meeting. In this case, the toddler ran the meeting.
As I sat quietly, waiting for permission to eat my imaginary pasta, I reflected that this samling is reflected in Swedish society. There is socialism, yes, but there is also a streak of authoritarianism. There is consensus, but it is more consensus on what politician or what bureaucracy or what toddler is going to run your life.
I lived for more than a year in a grassroots peace project in post-war Croatia. It was consensus run, for real. This meant hour upon hour of meeting, of arguing, of people finally breaking down just to escape the smoke-filled room of endless talk.
I am glad I lived that. And my complaining aside, I am a fan of modified consensus now.
So I want to like the samling. But I can’t. It carries too much of an Eastern Bloc touch.
And I am hungry. I never got to eat my imaginary pasta.