Published December 16, 2010
In a compelling speech Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr made to city hall yesterday, he compared the nation to a family with an alcoholic father who is “still in treatment” today.
The occasion of the speech was the second discussion of the city’s annual budget. The mayor, addressing city council, delivered a speech that many Icelanders have been praising as frighteningly accurate.
“One may compare the nation to the family of an alcoholic father who’s been drunk for many years,” the mayor said in part. “He had big ideas, especially when he’d had a few. He had a mouth and wasn’t afraid to tell people where to go. He was a viking and a tough guy.”
This attitude, enabled by his family, was not without its problems. “‘I don’t listen to any bullshit!’ was his motto, and his family trusted him. In part because the family loved him, despite his drinking and his faults, but also in part because people were simply afraid to stand up to him. And so the family began to wonder whether he was some kind of genius, not a mentally ill alcoholic but rather brilliant, capable of seeing things that the average loser wasn’t smart enough to see.”
However, this proved a mistake, as the alcoholic father ran into money troubles, hiding his financial mistakes, taking out loan after loan.
“In the end, he could do nothing more than admit spiritual, physical and financial ruin. And so he went into treatment. And the family stayed behind, left bewildered, confused and angry.”
The mayor cautioned against this anger, saying that it “burns up energy and leads to exhaustion. Grief and hopelessness leads to inactivity. Anger is human and sometimes necessary, but if we allow it to accumulate it becomes a fatal poison that sickens the mind.”
The mayor concluded, “Miss Reykjavík has a future ahead of her. She may have had an alcoholic father and her mother was always tired. But she doesn’t let that stop her. She forgives all, tolerates all, and stretches towards the light. Reykjavík has all the potential to be the cleanest, most beautiful, most peaceful and most fun city in the world; world-renowned for sympathy, culture, nature and peace; a diamond for us to polish and shine.”
The speech in its entirety (in Icelandic) can be read here.
Read Jón Gnarr’s speech from the initial introduction of the city’s budget (in English!) right here.