So this is the New Year. Again. Except this time is slightly different, because we are also ringing in a new decade. Oh yes, say goodbye to ‘the noughties’—it’s time for us to mess up ‘THE TEENS’ (or is it ‘tweens’? ‘tens’? Whatever you want to call them).
By now, we have established a tradition of devoting our entire first issue of the year to introspection and navel- gazing. These are our attempts to examine what happened in the previous twelve months and how we feel about it all.
The idea is seek out and combine some of the multitude of perspectives that make up our society in order to map out the space we are currently occupying and, hopefully, gather insight into where we might be heading.
We do this by looking to our community and asking several of its respective members to contribute their thoughts, opinions and points of view on “what has been happening” and “what will happen”.
To that end, we approached a great number of people from all walks of life and asked them to help us with the task. Some chose to send longer pieces that somehow touched upon our subject, some answered the specific questions we posed (“what about 2010?” and “what’s in store?”) while others relayed their thoughts over the phone.
All of us humans have distinct ways of perceiving the world and processing our perceptions, and in doing so we construct it every day of our lives. Thus, you might consider this our attempt at a snapshot of a small community at the edge of a new decade—combining the pixels of thoughts into a bigger picture.
We urge you to read the thoughts contained within the following pages while at the same time reflecting on your own ideas on the subject (if you get any good ones, do send them along). Some of them are eye opening, some of them are optimistic, others are grim, while all of them are unique and fun. Enjoy!
Heiða Kristín Helgadóttir, Managing Director, The Best Party:
</2010> For me personally I think 2010 was the beginning of something new. I think it marked the end of an era of old politics and old ways of thinking and approaching problems. I myself have had just about enough of this anger and frustration; we need to start focusing on the positive things we’ve got going for us. I think we desperately need to start laughing more… by laughing it’s not that we’re not taking things seriously; we’re just making things a little bit lighter… brighter maybe?
<A new decade…> I think this will be the decade of less crap and more fun and creative thought.
Bergþór Pálsson, Opera singer:
</2010> 2010 was the year we were recovering from the shock of the economic collapse, and re-evaluation in all spheres of life took over. We realised that life goes on. We didn’t even get food stamps sent in the mail, though surely the numbers grew in the group of people who are in need of assistance from charitable organisations. The economic collapse was maybe the best thing that could have happened to Icelanders. A new way of thinking and creative energy has emerged among many. Many people started to think about what really matters in life. At the same time we suddenly remembered that there are people in the world that really have it bad, in countries where there is no running water and too many children are infected with HIV. We saw that we have it pretty good, despite everything.
<A new decade…> The next decade will prove good to Icelanders. We will soon be energised and full of optimism. I look forward to the day when every car in this country will be propelled by domestic and clean energy, and we can use all the billions that go toward fuel towards something much more useful. We are starting to understand that our primary resource is our hot and cold water. It has been too easy to let it gush from our faucets, so we took it to be of little or no value. It will bring results when luxury spas are established across the country, and people race to the country in search of refreshment and rest. First and foremost will we be happier and after all the self-scrutiny and creative energy this year, we will slow down the tempo and better enjoy living live in the present.
Áslaug Friðriksdóttir, Managing Director, Sjá:
</2010> 2010 was an interesting year. I often had the feeling that we were living in historical times, both because of the political upheaval and also because of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. The eruption presented a grave danger that our tourism industry would be badly hurt. We managed to prevent this from happening, and one of the explanations is certainly the Inspired in Iceland project, which might be considered the project of the year—a marketing campaign that harnessed social media to put forth a message, and it worked. The people of Reykjavík sent a loud message in this spring’s municipal elections, and new people from outside the conventional party system entered the city government. Their critique of conventional politics entailed that political promises and platforms were irrelevant, because they are never really followed or cast aside when parties enter coalition governments. This criticism isn’t necessarily merited in every way, but it will nonetheless be interesting to observe if things change for the better as a result.
<A new decade…> Let’s say that the coming decade will be one of the best in the history of this nation. It’ll be a post-banking collapse decade, where people enjoy their existence. Culture will blossom like never before, and will be our main strength.
Þorgerður Einarsdóttir, Gender Studies Professor, Háskóli Íslands:
</2010> The year 2010 was the second year of the crash, instead of being the second year of recovery. The political turmoil and emotional fluctuations were hardly bearable for ordinary people. The President’s rejection of the Icesave bill, urged by a group of homogenous middle aged men, split the people of Iceland into two conflicting camps. The Special Investigation Commission [SIC] Report gave a short hope of new times, unfortunately not realised as yet. In the local elections in the spring 2010, again a group of males made history in Iceland. The Best Party was certainly not in line with the ethos of the SIC report of responsibility and deference. The year 2010 is the moment of lost opportunities, not least in gender relations, a future that turned out to be a confirmation of a repetitive past.
<A new decade…> As an optimist I do believe in the future and that human beings can learn from experience, even the people of Iceland. At the same time I must admit that I don’t think we have reached the bottom. I’m afraid there will be several years of a continued deep split among people, anger and mistrust in political institutions. We might be facing an atmosphere of extremist ideologies, nationalism, increased xenophobia and sexism. I think that democracy will be put to a test in the next decade, urging a pressure on grass-root activism, environmentalists and feminists to fight back. As long as we have strong people with judgment enough to distinguish between short time gains and real sustainable values, finding it worthwhile to be concerned, we have a hope of a better society by the end of the next decade.
Freyja Haraldsdóttir, disability rights activist:
</2010> Looking over what has been achieved in disabled people’s fight for personal assistance and independent living in Iceland, the biggest step is most definitely the founding of NPA miðstöðin (a centre for independent living and personal assistance). The centre is a cooperative run and controlled by disabled people based on the principles of the United Nations convention on rights of people with disabilities and the Independent Living philosophy. The main goal of the centre is to provide personal assistance and support disabled people to become the leaders in their own lives.
<A new decade…> In the next decade we want to see the United Nations convention on rights of people with disabilities become ratified as well as the basis for all development in the services for disabled people. We also want to see our cooperative work hard in advocating for independent living and supporting disabled people in being the leaders in their own lives. We also hope to see the next decade bring more consciousness about the human rights violation of disabled people in Iceland and that the government will place disabled people in the frontline where they will guide the way to inclusion, independence, full citizenship and human rights for disabled people, and of course everyone else.
Hilmar Magnússon, International Communications Student:
</2010> Iceland saw three elections in 2010. Voters failed all of them. In March, we voted about a law that no one was fighting for, and was in fact never going to take effect. The President claimed he was defending democracy, and said that Britain lacked it. Iceland, however, had a deep-rooted tradition for democracy. Still, this was the first national referendum in the republic’s 66-year history. Voters swallowed the bait, but their message was unclear. Aren’t we paying? Do we want a better deal? A better government? May brought municipal elections. A satire party won Reykjavík. The party’s hitherto “jokes” have been better executed than many “real” politicians could muster. But what about the voters? They criticized the corruption, lack of direction and betrayed promises of the old parties. Instead of acting responsibly and offering up a real alternative they decided to gorge on the fast food and vote for the only party that promised to deliver corruption, lack of direction and betrayed promises. In November, voters had a historical opportunity to choose members to a committee that will pen a new constitution. The majority decided to pass on that opportunity.
<A new decade…> Iceland was like a microcosm of the globe in 2010. Both were characterised by a great unrest, negativity and imbalance. The reasons? Selfishness, inequality, injustice and an unsustainable way of life. Western countries complain about their debt burden. Poorer nations struggle with calamities caused by fighting over resources. Their residents flee the poverty and end up as third-rate citizens in richer countries, or they are refused entry by people who are largely responsible for their original situation. People are oppressed and killed in the name of freedom and justice, in wars that have the sole purpose of securing a standard of life for the upper classes. Frustration rises. Hatred amplifies. Those who point out the system’s inherent hypocrisy, for instance by leaking classified government documents to the public, are thrown in jail. And all the while, mother Earth suffers. These are the problems that we face, and need to solve over the next decade. I have complete faith that we can do it, if only we can face ourselves and take responsibility.
Margrét Tryggvadóttir, MP, Hreyfingin:
</2010> I often think the re-shaping and rebuilding of Iceland is going slow and that little has changed, but looking back one can see that a lot of things have moved in the right direction, and that a lot growth is happening. For me, our attempts at improving our democracy have stood out. This year we’ve staged three elections—a national referendum on IceSave that is likely unprecedented in world history, municipal elections and then the Constitutional Assembly elections, where we got to try personbased elections for the first time. For me the year was both good and hard. My family has prospered, but work has been hard and often taxing.
<A new decade…> We are still mid-collapse and the system is still trying to defend itself with all means at their disposal. But it can’t for much longer; it is like a fluttering fish on dry land. Our banking system was the first to collapse, but more and more foundations are proving rickety. The National Church is having a hard time, and our administrative structures are shattered, as is revealed almost every day. The political party system as we know it is also in the death throes, not only in Iceland but the world over. Change can be painful, but it is necessary. It is our duty to guard the interests of the people in the world—it has been made very clear that neither the financial sector nor the political class has any interest in that.
Vilhjálmur Þór Davíðsson, Mr. Gay Iceland 2010:
</2010> Well, the year 2010 brought me the most happiest times of my life so far… all the new people that entered my life, my good friends and all the good times we had together… and winning the title Mr. Gay Iceland also brought a HUGE change to my life… a good change 🙂
<A new decade…> I have a good feeling about the next decade… my life has gotten so much better the last few years, and I am focused on making it even better in the next years. With a strong mind and determination, we can make anything happen! Believe in yourself, focus on the goal and succeed! 🙂
Linda Lek Theiojanthuk, Proprietor, Mai Tai:
</2010> Business has been good this year. Of course, it has not been as good as it was a few years ago [before the crash], but it has still been good and I can’t complain. I don’t have any major problems, just the usual hassle of importing foreign food products, but it’s like this everywhere. [Regarding the last year], everything has been okay and business has been just fine…very fine.
<A new decade…> I hope that everything will be alright in the next years. I hope. As long as things go well and I can work, I don’t think about much except for continuing to work. I am happy [with the present situation] and I am positive about the future.
THE THEME FURTHER EXPLORED:
A Call For Intelligent Innocence and Transparency
By Sigríður Þorgeirsdóttir, a professor of philosophy at the University of Iceland.
THE NEXT TEN YEARS: “Morality and something… oh yes, trust”
By Elísabet Jökulsdóttir, an author.
WORLD BANK, IMF, NATO, EU
By Einar Már Guðmundsson, an author.
Iceland The Cracker Factory
By Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir, an artist and one of the Reykjavík 9, who are charged for attacking Alþingi.
A Fortunate Nation
By Sif Friðleifsdótter, an MP for the Progressive Party