Life with an ADHD kiddo is never boring

My son is almost 13 years old. He forgets his backpack in the morning, forgets to take off his clothes before going to bed and does lots of other things I don´t understand – boy do I learn a lot from him!

“Where’s your backpack?” I asked my son as he gave me a goodbye hug at the bus stop. Unlike many other boys his age, he has no problem showing affection in public.

In the rush to catch the yellow school bus, he forgot his backpack. That’s how it is with boys and girls like him. Despite the fact that there are two sheets of paper with bullet points on the bathroom wall, one for morning and one for evening routines – “brush your teeth, eat breakfast, pack your backpack” etc. – one must remember to read the list in order to do the things on it.

He has a green tote bag with white bubbles for swim practice.. I’ve written words inside the bubbles to make his to-do list not stand out too much. “Swim trunks,” “flip flops,” “towel,” and other essentials he needs to remember for practice.

With our hearts exposed, parents of neuro diverse kids are fighting for our kids from the sidelines – against thoughtless kids and adults who will or cannot embrace differences.

Routines, schedules, constant reminders are a natural part of our life – for neurotypical children, basic everyday skills and activities they carry out with ease and without giving them any thought. To my son, it feels like the first time he hears it – despite the fact that we remind him of the exact same things every single day.

It is not easy to be neuro diverse in this world. Imagine the effort it must require to get through a school day.

Researchers state that these kids catch up – it just happens a later than for neurotypical children. While I wait, I guide and sometimes nudge my son in a direction that doesn’t embarrass him when he is out in public and met by other people’s prejudices and wondering looks. With our hearts exposed, parents of neuro diverse kids are fighting for our kids from the sidelines – against thoughtless kids and adults who will or cannot embrace differences. Add my son’s nonexistent filter – what he thinks and feels comes out of his mouth uncensored – you have a potential for an avalanche of misunderstandings.

My son does not always know what is appropriate to say or ask. At home, we barely notice – we know him and have no problem answering questions some parents would cringe to hear. We know that he is not rude, crude, or insensitive – quite the opposite. But out in the world, in which he increasingly moves more independently, the reactions are different. That’s why we have a secret word. Since most Americans don´t understand Danish, we have chosen the word “carrot” in Danish which lets him understand that he must pause and stop what he is saying – without Americans understanding our verbal red flag. We cannot just gently let him know, since he doesn’t understand subtle hints.

But it’s not just us adults who have to teach him how to behave in a world that is unfortunately not as embracing as those close to him would like. We are the ones witnessing the consequences of the outside world´s reactions and what they do to a sensitive soul and a mind that experiences the world through a lens colored differently than most.

I am learning an immense amount from my son. That day was no exception. Since I am not a morning person, dad usually is on morning duty. He has more patience towards our bouncy ball, scatter brained son in the early hours. When I picked him up after school, I apologized for being short-tempered that same morning.

“Mom, I always make it to the bus, I finish my homework in time. I am never late. Our goals are the same, but we do things differently,” he replied. I was in awe and had tears in my eyes. Because that´s how it is: we do things differently and how boring it would be if we were all the same and did things the same way.


Livet med en adhd-dreng er aldrig kedeligt. Til gengæld er det lærerigt

Min søn er næsten 13 år. Han glemmer sin skoletaske om morgenen og glemmer at tage tøjet af, når han skal i seng – men hvor kan jeg lære meget af ham!

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Egregious contempt from Danish politicians towards their constituents.

Gaslighting the Danish population is what comes to mind, when hearing politicians attempting to reason why they want to slash a holiday that dates back to 1686 arguing that an extra day at work will finance a stronger defense system.

Denmark is in dire need of manpower, the welfare state is not functioning properly because of a shortage in key positions within the public sector. Here is an idea: Instead of punishing hard-working Danes, how about getting those on welfare into the labor force?

“Immigration to Denmark must not challenge cohesion,” reads one of the headlines in the Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s report “Status on integration” from May last year.

The Danish population has changed significantly over the past 40 years. In 1980 I was five years old – back then approximately 51,000 immigrants and descendants with a non-Western background lived in the country. Today, the number is more than 500,000. This would not be a problem if integration and assimilation had followed, but unfortunately it did not. Who and what is to be blamed for this can be debated endlessly.

Similarly, we can debate whether the extra working day Danes are facing will finances tax breaks or more welfare. The answer will depend on whether your glasses are blue or red toned. The fact is that far too few with a non-Western background living in Denmark are participating in the work force. The fact is also, that hard-working Danes get up every day and contribute their share by going to work. Through their taxes, they pay for those without the same sense of responsibility – people who enjoy living a safe and comfortable life in Denmark with free healthcare, childcare, education, rent etc. – without ever feeling the need to contribute to the welfare state they have been invited into.

How dedicated is Denmark really? After all, they do not reach the goal of the commitment they made decades ago of 2 percent of GDP for their defense system until the year 2030.

The welfare system in Denmark is fantastic. Most people agree on that. My grandmother never missed a chance to tell me what the Social Democrats and the unions did for the life her children and grandchildren were able to live. I am, and will always be, grateful for the opportunities I and other Danes have enjoyed and benefitted from. Danes inside and outside the country’s borders are proud of the Danish model. I am one of them. As an Lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle, I have lectured classes on how amazing a country Denmark is and how well we take care of our citizens.

But I have also had to teach the students that the welfare model requires a population with values that are alligned; that one must be able to identify with one’s neighbor in order for the system to work. It is easier to get people to accept a high level of taxes if you feel you are paying to someone similar to yourself – in appearance and in culture. A welfare system works when the population is fairly homogeneous. You must believe that when you are able, you have an obligation to contribute to society via being a part of the work force. Similarly, when you are in need, you can rest assured that you have the right to benefit from the welfare system.

Denmark is no longer like that. The model only works if everyone feel like this and if the life cycle of a citizens life is predictable. But the more diverse a population is, the more difficult it is to predict, the more deviations from a homogeneous mass there will be. Therefore, societal changes are necessary for the Danish model to survive. The problem is that politicians cannot say this out loud – for fear of creating division or because they risk being called racists or worse.

That is why they have invented a phrase, they repeat over and over: The reason for slashing a holiday is a need to finance the Danish defense system.

But the argument does not hold up, because Denmark has long ago committed to spending 2 per cent. of GDP – they just never did. Furthermore, this government is far from the first to say that the Danes must sacrifice a holiday in order to finance welfare. The circumstances are the same, now as it was then: lack of tax dollars revenue to fund welfare. The difference between now and then, however, is that previously there was no war in Europe that the Danish politicians could use as an excuse.

So, when Social democrats, Liberals, and the Moderates repeat in one debate after another that taking care of Denmark is their main focus and that the Danes must therefore wholeheartedly pay their share by living up to our international obligations, it is at best hypocrisy if not an outright lie.

How dedicated is Denmark really? After all, they do not reach the goal of the commitment they made decades ago of 2 percent of GDP for their defense system until the year 2030.

It is a “talking point” when politicians repeatedly highlight increased defense spending as the reason for the extra working day. And it is disrespectful and insulting to the Danes not to tell the truth.

Denmark has changed from when previous generations created our fantastic welfare system. Unfortunately, some would rather reap the benefits than contribute to the society they are a part of. As long as no one has the guts to say this out loud, the utility worker, the caregiver, and other working groups will slave away every day, while other groups sit back while sipping mint tea in stead of feeling obligated to take part in the community that takes such good care of them.


Tror politikerne, danskerne er idioter, når de siger, store bededag skal finansiere mere forsvar?

Danmark mangler arbejdskraft. Så hvad med at få dem, der ikke yder, ud på arbejdsmarkedet i stedet for at straffe hårdtarbejdende danskere?

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Jehovah´s Witnesses violate the rights of children

Exclusion of minor children is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Norway’s State Administration has settled a case in which it determines that children’s rights are violated when Jehovah’s Witnesses practice their exclusion methods. Children are exposed to negative social control and are held accountable within the organization´s closed legal system – and are judged as adults. All children deserve the same level of rights, not just Norwegian children.

If you are registered as a “recognized religious community” (Act no. 1533 of 19 December 2017 on religious communities outside the national church) in Denmark, you have a number of financial advantages regarding (property) tax and VAT. In addition, members can donate a tax-dectable amount.

In Norway, brave members of Jehovah´s Witnesses contacted the authorities because they felt trapped and did not dare to leave the sect for fear of the personal consequences it would have. Yesterday, Norway’s State Administration announced to the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that the religious freedom of the members is violated when the organization expels its members. The decision does not mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will disappear from Norway. They can still practice their religion, they just no longer get millions of tax crowns every year, and then they lose the right to seal marriages.

In October, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway were warned that the financial state support was about to end. On the same occasion, the organization was asked whether it wanted to change its exclusionary practices so that it could continue receiving government support. To that, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization replied no. At the same time, the organization hired a high-profile lawyer.

Jehovah’s Witnesses practice what was previously known as “excommunication” and has since changed name to “exclusion,” probably to create an illusion to the public of a softer punishment.

But excommunication is exactly the same as exclusion. In practice, it means that you are dead to your family and former friends. I know how it works, because I have experienced it myself. If you are walking in the street and pass someone you have known since you were a child, he must pass you by without acknowledging you. If you call home, your parents must hang up immediately. No contact, whatsoever, is allowed. If you become desperate and show up outside your parents’ doorstep, they must must close the door on you – the treatment of an excommunicated member is the same, no matter how old or young he or she is. Imagine how many excommunicated members die from suicide or go back into the cult – not to mention those who do not dare to leave for fear of the treatment they know they will have to endure.

That is precisely why Norway has now had enough. It is inhumane to treat especially children and young adults like this. When I confronted my mom with this, I was told that had made the choice when I chose to be baptized and therefore knew the consequences when I chose to leave the sect. To be clear, I was baptized two weeks after my 14th birthday, had not yet had my first period, had never been in love, or kissed a boy – in short, I had accepted restrictions, I had no understanding of.

The sect strongly encourages you to get baptized as early as possible – after that you are reliable for your actions according to their rules and restrictions. You are held accountable for your actions on equal terms with adults. I have heard of children as young as 8 who have been baptized – and judged as adults when they start asking questions or breaking the sect’s rules.

There has been a citizens’ proposal to deprive Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark of their recognition as a religious community. Unfortunately, not enough signed the petition for the Danish Parliament to consider the proposal.

That’s a shame. On the one hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses are immensely happy to receive the economic benefits that the Danish state provides, on the other hand, such a state-supported economy is de facto a symbol of accepting the inhumane, sectarian doomsday cult’s practice, which, with its Gestapo methods, forces the members to rat on each other – with severe personal consequences.

So, what has been Jehovah’s Witnesses reaction to the decision in Norway? Ironically, they state that they are a persecuted minority, that their freedom of religion is challenged, that they are the victims of a crusade that tries to make the lives of the witnesses as difficult as possible, and pressure them to change the interpretation and practice of the Bible’s message, which they of course “have no intention” of doing. It is tragicomic to see how their manipulative rhetoric trickery is turned upside down.

My hope is that more countries will look to Norway as a pioneering country – not only when it comes to financial support and lucrative tax-exemptions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for all religious communities, cults, and sect organizations that take children and young people hostage and use social control contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and general common sense. The state must play a greater role – especially in democratic countries. After all, we can only expect more insane religions and sects on our doorstep in the future.


Børn skal ikke straffes som voksne – men det bliver de inden for Jehovas Vidner

At udstøde mindreårige børn er i strid med Børnekonventionen

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Zelenskyy gave the speech of his life in Congress: We want one thing for Christmas – victory

Zelenskyy is rhetorically strong – but is the US willing to donate more funds?

“Your money is not charity, it is an investment in global security,” said the President of Ukraine in his speech to the US Congress.

Judging by the breaking news live streaming on CNN, journalists coverage, politicians’ buzzing anticipation in Congress, as well as President Joe Biden they are all fully aware of the important crossroads the Western world is facing.

In general, there has been support across the political isle in the United States. But some sent a clear message through their absence. Some Republicans chose to stay away, and that is not necessarily good for Ukraine’s resistance nor for Europe’s security. Even if we don’t want to think about it, we may be facing World War III and a battle for Western ideals of freedom.

“The Ukrainian president painted a picture of roaring bombings every day for months, blood, freezing temperatures, death, and destruction. But he also painted a picture of a population that is strong and fights for its freedom with the same perseverance Americans showed when they fought Nazism in Europe.

America is Ukraine’s most important ally. Of course, President Zelenskyy is well aware of that. He is also aware that some resistance have begun to show on the Republican side of the political spectrum when it comes to allocating military funding and aid to Ukraine.

The American population is regularly impressed by Zelenskyy´s quoting of former presidents such as Kennedy and Washington in his speeches. Yesterday, was no exception, when he quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Ukrainian president painted a picture of roaring bombing every day for months, blood, freezing temperatures, death and destruction. But he also painted a picture of a population that is strong and fights for freedom with the same perseerance Americans had when they fought Nazism in Europe.

It may have been the most important speech he has ever given—perhaps even the most important speech he will ever give. He balanced between being grateful to the American people while asking for more guns, ammunition, planes, and tanks. The US has given 1.8 trillion dollars so far. That’s 12 zeros, but that’s not enough.

Zelenskyy made it clear that he is not asking for American soldiers on the ground. Ukrainian soldiers will fight against its attackers itself – but they need more military material.

For me, the strongest message was that we must stand together and fight for freedom, for democracy, for the freedom of the mind – against terrorism and put in what is required in the fight for freedom. PUT-IN, as Zelenskyy said. He definetely did not sound like a man who is ready to sit down at the negotiating table – he is anything but a shadow president, as the MAGA-republicans call him.

The world will be a better place if Ukraine wins – now and in the future. Ukraine’s fight inspires the whole world, and standing together, globally we must fight to protect freedom and international laws, was the message. This war determines and defines the world that future generations will live in. The countries of the world are too interconnected and dependent on each other for a war like this – he stated as the applause resounded.

Standing up for freedom, investing in democracy by helping Ukraine should be on every freedom-loving, democratic country´s Christmas list.

Slava Ukraine!


Zelenskyj holdt sit livs vigtigste tale i USA: Vi ønsker os én ting til jul – sejr

Zelenskyj er en stærk retoriker – men er USA villig til at donere flere midler?

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Will Danish public schools be the next ideological battleground?

In the US, worried parents are taking over school boards. Could the same happen in Denmark?

It is a good thing, students learn about their country’s less beautiful areas of history. It is a good thing, attention is being targeted on oppressed groups, minorities, and vulnerable populations. It is part of a student’s school education to learn that life and history are nuanced and that all groups in society are not always treated equal – only by learning about the past can we look forward and try not to repeat the sins of the past and maybe even contribute to making the world a better place.

But it is problematic when the scales tip and focus is only on the sins of the white man and a country’s violation of fundamental humanity. A clear-eyed approach in dealing with multiple elements of the past should include teaching both the oppression of Native Americans and the ancestors of African Americans and the incredible progress that American history offers.

“The Danish public schools have an enormous responsibility for graduating democratically minded citizens who will take part in the Danish society – in a country that is held together, primarily because its so homogeneousity.

Not many places in the US are like that. Where I live, the school children know about countless Indian tribes, but hardly know why they celebrate Thanksgiving . And that’s problematic, because if we don’t know our own history, how can we relate to it? How, then, do we create a generation of citizens without guilt and shame, but with a nuanced awareness of the past, to gain the courage to go out into life uniting, side by side, with young people from other nationalities, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds to make life and society a better place?

Having an informed opinion about statues that symbolize oppression, books in school libraries that preach that a family consists of a father and a mother and a couple of blond kids – in a world that is constantly changing, is forming an opinion to a version of life, that is not one-eyed.

But when the attitude to what a family looks like is rooted in antiquated religious notions with Stone Age views, the Geist, many parents have when it comes to their children’s schooling, can be dangerous.

In the US, we see this especially clearly in rightwinged Christian circles, who try to get certain books banned from school libraries. This is particularly the case with books that have sexual scenes, or books with themes of homosexuality or other LGBTQIA+-community-related themes. Librarians and teachers live a life in fear these days – is school board members find they have exposed their kids to content that goes against their Christian beliefs they highjack the boards and change curriculum and library content according to their beliefs.

The school boards have great power in American schools and are elected for an entire school district, not to an individual school as is the case in Denmark. In America, you have to be an American citizen to run for the school board, in Denmark you just need to be a parent at the school to run. Fortunately, the structure of school boards in Denmark is different, otherwise that would be the blow and decline for a homogeneous Danish society.

The Danish public schools have an enormous responsibility for graduating democratically minded citizens who will take part in Danish society – in a country that is held together, primarily because of its homogeneousity. The Danish democracy is beautiful and works well, and fortunately the school board model also bears its mark.

Still, the individual schools will be challenged and tried in the future. There will be forces trying to shape the public schools in a direction that has a strong focus on religiously based values. Hopefully the implementation or imprinting of various radical teachings will not be able to take over or infiltrate the individual public school. Danish democracy is strong and, in contrast to the USA, the focus is on community and shared basic values, that might be the saving grace for the Danish public schools – and for Denmark.

Bliver folkeskolen den næste ideologiske kampplads?

I USA overtager rabiate elementer skolebestyrelser. Kan det samme ske i Danmark?

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I wish the US was as civilized as Denmark, when it comes to respecting the democratic process

Democracy is difficult. The Danish election two days ago shows us that the US could learn from Denmark. Meanwhile we are waiting for the American mid-term elections.

There they were, all eleven heads of the Danish political parties, representing the spectrum in Danish politics. Standing shoulder to shoulder, the very night of the parliamentary election. Traditionally, on election night, after all votes have been tallied, all party leaders participate in a joint session on the Danish public service tv channel DR to answer questions from the media. The atmosphere was civil, no one accusing anyone of cheating. I was completely stunned and quite moved. I must have forgotten how a well-functioning democratic process works.

My daughter and I were watching the live broadcast from Seattle. I explained the Danish political system, which she was somewhat confused about. Denmark has a multi-party system and eleven parties are a lot, even for a Dane, but not least for her, being used to the election being between the Democrats and the Republicans.

So, I explained, which is not as easy as one might think, because the Danish parties are close in their set of values and often overlap each other in their positions on individual topics.

“The red parties in Denmark are on the side of the blue bloc in the USA. But even the most conservative parties in Denmark, which is represented by a blue color, have some areas that are more socialist than the blue parties here in the US. The blue parties in Denmark are often more ´red´ than the blue party color of the American Democratic Party.”

My daughter asked questions about ideology and what it takes to get a mandate. “It’s a very complicated system,” she said, until it dawned on her that every vote cast counts—unlike presidential elections here.

When I heard the head of The Green Left (SF), Pia Olsen Dyhr, say that despite the differences in opinions, the representatives from other parties in Parliament (Folketing) are colleagues she likes and respects, I almost wanted to move back to my beautiful, democracy-loving, safe country of origin, Denmark.

“This is too exciting! I am amazed how quickly they count the votes,’ she said, while we watched the DR hosts try to fill out airtime while waiting for the final votes.

“Far fewer people live in Denmark. And the Danes are good at creating efficient systems and believing in the democratic process,” I replied.

The atmosphere I felt when I watched politicians from The Red/Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) bike ride through the streets of Copenhagen, the warmth I felt, when the cameras panned through various rooms in Parliament covered in confetti, showing Danish flags being waved, and nervous, excited looks glued to the latest election numbers on tv screens. I saw smiles, hugs, and groups of people spontaneously breaking out in song. That atmosphere, the USA could learn from.

Democracy is something to be celebrated. When I heard the head of The Green Left (SF) Pia Olsen Dyhr, say that despite the differences in opinions, the representatives from other parties in Parliament (Folketing) are colleagues she likes and respects, I almost wanted to move back to my beautiful, democracy-loving, safe country of origin, Denmark, where the rhetoric, even during an election campaign, is at a level where the politicians do not fear for their lives.

In that context, the political mood in America is starkly different. Many politicians talk to each other in such a disrespectful way you hardly want your kids to hear it. Many refuse to meet each other for debates. On the political arena and among the population, the atmosphere is so toxic that some fear a civil war.

Last week, a man broke into Speaker of the United States House of Representatives house, Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was not at home. But her 82-year-old husband ended up with a fractured skull and injuries to his body. He is still recovering in the ER. The perpetrator has since stated that he wanted to smash Nancy Pelosi’s kneecaps so that other politicians would see what was in store for them.

More than 70 per cent of Republicans in the United States believe that the last presidential election was “stolen” from them – a falsehood that has been refuted again and again by various recounts and by countless court verdicts.

In the US, we don’t get the election results as quickly as other countries do. We must wait and wait and wait because one party in particular, the Republican, want the ballots recounted over and over and because they bring the decision to the courts and drag out the results by appealing even when the margin is significant. By law, they have the right to do so. But when the tally is clear, one must ask whether there is a strategy behind what the republicans are doing.

By dragging out the final election results, citizens lose interest and trust in the system. And that is most likely exactly what the republicans want. In its extreme consequence, that is an eerie thought: if you can destroy faith in democracy and make people believe their vote holds no power, that democracy is too difficult, what then is the alternative? – indifference and acceptance of a totalitarian system brought in through the backdoor.

Democracy is hard. But that does not mean that citizens should turn away from voting and participating – because if we do, we can wave goodbye to the democracy America prides itself of on the global world stage. Maybe America should look to Denmark for showing the world how to respect democracy?

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Tænk, hvis USA var lige så civiliseret, når det kommer til at afholde valg

Demokrati er svært, og USA kunne lære meget af Danmark. Det viste det danske valg, mens vi venter på det amerikanske midtvejsvalg.

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´Tripledemic´? Covid, flu and RSV are ravaging the USA

We have been so careful with Covid precautions that we are now vulnerable to other respiratory ilnesses

“Please test her for the new Corona virus!, ” I begged when I arrived with my sick daughter at our local hospital here in the Seattle area. It was at the beginning of 2020.

It was a different time than the one we now live in. The new virus that ended up ravaging the whole world wasn’t really on people’s radar yet. My daughter was sick—coughing, running a high fever, and showing all the signs of the disease I had heard about on the news – a virus, mind you, where the first detected case in America was a few miles from my home.

It turned out that my daughter had RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). The symptoms are largely identical to both flu and Covid, and after a week at home, where we back then found it rather unfamiliar that she had to wear a mask, she recovered. That same week, the public schools in our school district closed – 540 days passed before she was back in a classroom.

This happened before the full-on outbreak of the pandemic, that ended up putting its clammy, suffocating hands on the world’s population. Still, and I have to say this even though most probably share my burnt-out Covid fatigue, the consequences of the pandemic are far from over.

Seattle Children’s Hospital reports that their capacity is at 200% compared to the same time last year. There is no treatment for RSV, although, ironically, it was research into an RSV vaccine treatment that laid the foundations for the Covid vaccines. For now, the hospitals can only provide relief when a child is admitted with RSV and help with oxygen to help children breathe.

In Denmark, you also see an increase in RSV, the flu numbers are in a normal range, and there is a decrease in positive PCR tests, but an increase in the waste water tests. Is Denmark facing the same development as we see here in the USA?

The authorities in the US are nervous. Covid, flu numbers, which are estimated to be high, and RSV, which is affecting more widely due to a lack of herd immunity. We have been isolated, wearing masks, working from home for so long that, all in all, we face an autumn and a winter with a high proportion of sick people and a strain on our healthcare staff.

The lack of herd immunity is due to the fact that many have worn masks, kept their distance, and worked from home for the last two winters. Our immune systems are not strong enough, so flu and other raspatory illnesses will hit earlier and harder.

Most adults manage RSV without problems and recover after a week or two of cold-like symptoms. Recovering is not as easy for the youngest and oldest citizens, who can develop pneumonia and bronchitis.

In normal times, i.e. before Covid, which, frankly, is hard to remember, children are exposed to a number of viruses in their first two years of life. But because we have been so successful here in wearing a mask and keeping a distance, the children are exposed to clusters of viruses at the same time – which means more serious symptoms and disease progression.

Hospitals from other states are contacting my state, Washington, daily to see if we have bed capacity at our children’s hospitals – all hospitals in the US are under pressure – medical professionals are facing a season where their capacity is pushed to the limit. RSV and influenza have not changed, but we have – because we did the right thing and followed CDC guidelines and the guidelines of our state officials in an effort to protect our children and the elderly.

So, I continue using my disinfecting wipes on surfaces, wash my hands, and tell my kids to do the same. And then I ask myself: when will it end? How many years will pass before we and our children no longer pay the price for the pandemic we so wanted to protect our loved ones from?

___

Tri-demi? covid, influenza og RS hærger USA

Vi har været så påpasselige med covid, at vi er blevet sårbare for andre sygdomme.

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My Experience Being a Human Book

Despite the American life I have built with two children, a husband, and a dog, I will always carry a deep sadness and a sense of loss that I have to live with every day.

Have you heard of the Human Book Project? Neither had I – even though the idea, which has become an international sensation, is Danish. The project has existed since 2000, when a group of young Nordic initiators saw it unfold at the Roskilde Festival.

The idea behind The Human Book project is beautiful in its premis. Human rights cannot solely be enforced through legislation, the general public must also participate in the fight against injustice, oppression, and discrimination through intercultural dialogue. Unjudging and breaking down prejudice is the main idea.

On October 7, the Human Book Project reached the other side of the globe when Folio in Seattle held a two-day event. Don’t judge a book by its cover could not be more apt for the Human Book Project’s mission.

So, how does the project work in real life? In all its simplicity, you borrow a person instead of a book. The “reading” takes place as a dialogue with the human book. The purpose is to break down prejudices and strengthen dialogue through meeting strangers you might have a prejudice against. Examples of human books are: a policemen, homosexuals, feminists, Muslims, etc.

The human books in Seattle were a disabled pole dancer, a woman who could see spirits, a stuttering gay professor, an unemployed man, and many more. I was there as a book because I survived the sect Jehovah’s Witness.

Before the event, I was not sure about what questions I would get, whether there was anyone at all who would “check me out.” I decided that I would answer any question and not hold back anything.

So I let it all out, answered every question. Questions about physical and psychological abuse, sexual violence, suicide, and about being a girl trying to navigate in a world dominated by (male) adults with misogynist stone aged mindsets and an eternal threat of risking becoming God’s enemy if you didn’t following their rules.

And then, I told about gaining my freedom – and that the price for my freedom was losing everything: Family, friends, my identity. I told people that despite the life I have been able to build with two children, a husband, and a dog in my American life, I will always carry a deep sadness and a sense of loss that I have to live with every day.

That fact is something people don’t like to hear. In many peoples minds, the story about the evil Jehovah’s Witness men, the rules, the manipulation, the years of loss and the search for a new identity must have a happy ending. Period. No insecurity, no inferiority, no frustration, no longing. There cannot be deep scars on my soul, only small tears are accepted. And certainly, people do not want to hear that I have living family members with their own lives far from mine with whom I have no contact. Much less, they want to hear, that my children have a grandmother, aunts, and cousins with whom they could have a relationship – if things were not the way they are.

The Human Book Project did what it was supposed to do – because I pushed back when one well-meaning person after another told me that I HAD to contact my family. Meanwhile, I was thinking about the purpose of the project: unjudge and face your prejudices, in a dialog between a human book and its “reader,” it goes both ways.

The world is not as simple as many of us would like it to be. I told the well meaning and kind hearted human book borrowers, that not everything in my life is as I wish it was, even though I have the life I want, a life I chose. In my case, there is a price to pay. It’s a realization I’ve spent years arriving at, a realization my “readers” were not immediately willing to accept. And that is exactly what makes the Human Book Project so important.


Menneskebiblioteket går i kødet på fordomme

På trods af det liv, jeg har fået stablet på benene med to unger, mand og hund i min amerikanske tilværelse, vil jeg altid bære en dyb sorg og et savn, jeg må leve med hver dag.

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The US has changed my values: School shootings have made me favor the death penalty

The victims of mass shootings in the United States are more than those we bury. I do not want to understand the perpetrators of mass shootings. Others must do that. I have no room in my heart to explain and understand why they are also victims.

How do you describe the deepest grief of parents who have lost a child in a school shooting and are now sitting in a courtroom listening to their child’s name and cause of death read out loud while a 22-year-old killer and the rest of the world look on? The other day, CNN broadcast live from a courtroom in Florida, where the perpetrator of the Parkland shooting was to receive his sentencing. At 19, he killed 17 people at a high school with an automatic riffle.

For several days, I have been thinking about how to describe the grief. No words can seem to be sufficient. No matter how we all feel, nothing compares to the feelings of those who loose loved ones.

Grief is hard as flint and soft as a heart. It is expressed in the chain bearing a son’s name in gracefully curved letters above a silver heart around a mother’s neck, it is seen in the upturned red-rimmed eyes fastened to the ceiling of the courtroom, it is evident in the tapping of a manicured index fingernail on a mother’s upper arm, it is present in the gaze set on infinity as the camera zooms in as the name of a son or daughter is read aloud. We watch it, grief, in the involuntary muscle movements around a mouth in an attempt to control emotions in a public space where the world is watching.

In the courtroom, parents, siblings and grandparents were seated across from the defendant, who was awaiting his sentencing. Wiping away tears, I had to look away. To me, the panning seemed too invasive.

But I was also affected because these parents are living my worst nightmare.

For me, it began with the mass shooting at a school for 0.-5. graders, Sandy Hook in 2012, where a 20-year-old man shot 20 children aged six to seven and six adults. At that time, we had been living in the US for two years and were still in that phase where most things were new and exciting.

My children were two and five years old, the same age as many children at the Sandy Hook school. That day, scales fell from my eyes, and I woke up abruptly to the reality that has since been a part of every day life here in the United States. I started telling my kids what to do if they were in the theater with the school and something bad happened; I talked to them about what to do at the cinema, at school – wherever they were if a bad guy did something.

Every month, all children here in the United States have some sort of exercise to prepare them for possible disasters such as “active shooter drills”, bears, earthquakes, lockdown, lockout etc. That´s just part of their everyday school life. My children learn at which angles to hide in their classroom, so that they are not visible from the hallway if there is a gunman at school; they learn to run from school to the nearest neighbor if they are in a situation where they can; they learn to hide in classes while continuing their school work if there is a lockout.

Since the day small children were murdered at Sandy Hook, according to Time, almost 1,000 shootings have taken place at schools and universities in the United States. More than 300,000 children and youth have experienced gun violence in American schools. It is a reality they live with. It is a reality we as parents live with.

I do not want to understand the perpetrators of mass shootings. Others must do that. I have no room in my heart to explain and understand why they are also victims.

My values have shifted since I lived in Denmark. Of course, I was not in favor of the death penalty, what a barbaric thought, what a resigned attitude to the possibility of rehabilitation of fellow human beings! But the USA is not Denmark. Here, a young person can waltz into the nearest gun or sporting goods store and acquire an automatic weapon designed for use in war zones and drive straight to the nearest elementary school, where six and seven-year-old students sit and draw, and gun them down.

So the US has changed my values. I know, research shows that long prison sentences do not equate rehabilitation. But for my faith in the judicial system and in the system overall, I want the death penalty when there is absolutely no doubt about who the perpetrator is and no question of his or her guilt in a heinous and cruel act of criminality such as a school shooting.

The man who murdered 17 people in cold blood at a high school, including the three adults who heroically ran toward the assailant and tried to help the high school students escape, will spend the rest of his life in prison. I would rather see him get electrocuted than a life of more prison violence against officers, love letters from women all over the world, as well as books and films written about his life.

My daughter just started high school. The other day she showed me around her school. “Here is the band room, here we have chemistry, over here algebra.” She is a happy teenager, full of life and a desire for learning. While my eyes darted about, I followed her from classroom to classroom. “How exciting, honey!,” I managed to say before the next sentence flew out of my mouth: “Do you know where the exits are? Do you know how to get out as quickly as possible?’

Without a flinch, she answered in the affirmative. Because we are all victims in this country, and we live with that as best we can.


USA har ændret mine værdier: Skyderierne har gjort, at jeg går ind for dødsstraf

Ofrene for masseskyderier i USA er flere end dem, vi begraver. Jeg forholder mig ikke til gerningsmændene. Det må andre gøre. Der er ikke plads i mit hjerte til at forklare og forstå, hvorfor de også er ofre.

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The Danish press is looking into Søren Pape´s, the leader of the Danish Conservative People´s Party, statements and actions – all you have to do is to turn to America to see how bad things can go

Looking into Søren Pape´s behavior is relevant – he might be the next Danish Prime Minister

I am not comparing Søren Pape to Donald Trump one to one; their behavior cannot be compared and Pape´s potential misconduct does not match that of Donald Trump´s. But, the principle of the press investigating the worthiness and suitability of the person who has ambitions to lead the country is the same – and that process is important.

I live in the United States and every day the news bring stories revealing Trump’s abuse of power while he was president – and reveal stories about what he has been willing to do for his dictatorial ambitions. Furthermore, Trump put the country’s security and the citizens´ lives at risk after he was out of office.

And that is the part of the story about the leader of the Danish Conservative People´s Party Søren Pape that is interesting. The public needs to know if he has violated any laws or committed actions within the country´s borders and internationally inconsistent with how one behaves as a publicly elected person. If it turns out he has, it needs to be addressed and dealt with – immediately. If we don´t, all one has to do is look to America to see how bad things can go. The Danish population needs to know who they are potentially voting to be the next leader of Denmark before an election.

“when the press smells blood, you have to be able to provide more than a muffled answer to survive in the highest circles of political life – as the saying goes: when you are a public figure, the press will attend both the wedding and the divorce.

It’s a good thing the press is not intimidated but do the research which leads to providing the public with the information they find. Some findings are irrelevant in relation to Pape’s dreams of becoming the next Danish Prime Minister, others may reveal serious incidents. That’s the process. It’s not pretty, but it’s necessary.

It is crucial that the population has a right to know what kind of candidate they are potentially voting into the Prime Minister’s Office – especially if illegal activities have damaged Denmark’s reputation and put the country´s security at risk.

That Pape is so ill-prepared and handles the shitstorm he’s in so completely unmannerly is another matter. He clearly needs his spin doctor to help him prepare his public responses better. But when spin and emotionally distress intertwine, it is clearly difficult for him to utter anything meaningful to the public. A public person like Pape should know that once the press smells blood, you have to be able to give more than a muffled answer to survive in the highest circles of political life – as the saying goes: the press will attend both the wedding and the divorce.

As we have seen countless times with Trump here in the United States, it creates a ground for conspiracy theories and allows the press to gain the upper hand and run the stories in the direction they want when a politician does not want to answer strait to questions from the press.

Søren Pape’s inability to handle the situation is shameful, because his unwillingness to elaborate and answer questions creates uncertainty in relation to his competences as Denmark’s future leader. Hopefully, time will show that he didn´t compromise Denmark’s interests. Time will tell, the press turn every stone and unearth whatever lies below the surface – for the benefit of Denmark and democracy.

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Det er ikke kønt, men det er nødvendigt at gå Pape efter i sømmene – se bare på USA, hvor galt det kan gå

Det er relevant, hvad Søren Pape har foretaget sig – han kan stå på tærsklen til at få overdraget nøglerne til Statsministeriet.

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