TV on repeat

fact and myth street sign
It is an important skill to separate correct information from incorrect.
Photo: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

I went to college during the last half of the 1990’s and I spent three of those five years in the general teacher training programme. We spent a few weeks each semester teaching at primary and lower secondary schools. We usually went to different schools each semester, but I had both practicums at the same school one year. We were a group of five students and we shared an apartment during those weeks.

There was a soap opera the three girls in the group liked watching in the afternoons. The main character was a man with an evil twin brother. The evil one had taken over his brother’s life and kept the good guy locked up in an abandoned factory. I understand that this scenario isn’t that uncommon in this kind of drama show. That was in the autumn, probably around October, and when we came back in the spring, around six months later, the prisoner was still in this basement. It could have been the exact same scene, so what had they been doing for five days a week since last time? I wish I had that kind ability to keep people interested.

I looked at trending searches in Google a couple of months ago, and I did it again today. Both lists were dominated by sports and people stuck on the Trump bandwagon. It could have been the exact same headlines, but they were in fact new. This is the reason I more or less stopped following the news. Most people wouldn’t continue reading a book if they quickly got the feeling that they had read it too many times before, so why do we accept it from media? Everybody knows that the stories media present have been selected, and that the interesting ones are those they leave out.

Some of my social media contacts go on about how Russia is dangerous because they interfer in other countries. It is probably true, but we accept this without any evidence. Let’s face it, we support it as long as it’s us doing it. Take a look at the countries NATO, the USA, Britain, and France have “helped” the last century. That’s where you find the most chaos today. Sometimes we don’t interfer because we don’t have any interests to defend. That’s what this is really about. So one might ask who is really the biggest threat to stability. That would be a new question, a new story. That would make journalism interesting again. I think I’ll stick to my kind of fiction.

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A diagnose in dystopia

A nice view of my homwtown from a WW2 bunker. It also reminds me of a disaster everyone knew was coming, but my government didn't want to accept responsibility.
A nice view of my homwtown from a WW2 bunker. It also reminds me of a disaster everyone knew was coming, but my government didn’t want to accept responsibility.

I have always had a fascination for dystopia. Maybe it’s because I believe in negative thinking, which is a realistic alternative to the idea that positive thinking guarantees true happiness. Thinking negatively isn’t about being negative, but about being prepared.

Consider this situation. A mother drove her 14 year old daughter to the Oslo airport a few days ago. She sent the teenager alone on a flight to Croatia. The daughter was one of several passengers that had to leave the plane. I can’t remember the reason, but I assume it had been overbooked. The crew just looked at the ticket, which said that she was an adult. There was another headline about the same time, concerning a flight from Ireland to Croatia. There was a problem with the pressure and the plane had to land in Germany. Some passengers had to wait a day for a flight out of Frankfurt. Things can happen when you travel, and although SAS may have deserved the criticism they received in the paper, I wonder how wise it is to let children travel alone.

The idea that nothing could possibly happen to us is a very positive attitude, but probably not one that will help the day it does. First of all, war isn’t the only scenario, but now that I’ve mentioned it, the ultimate weapon may be EMP. It will knock out a lot of machines and big parts of, maybe the whole power grid. The enemy could then leave it up to the civilians to kill each other, and they would.

War may not be the most likely scenario, but in my opinion we have some neighbours with a past. We all know what Russia is capable of, but let’s not forget that “neutral” Sweden did business with Hitler during the whole WW II. They even transported German supplies to Narvik during a major battle with the allied forces. So we are surrounded by three countries that are outside NATO. In a situation with scarcity I can see them as a threat.

There are other more likely scenarios before that happens, though. There could be a collapse, economic or ecological. The former member of US Congress, Ron Paul, is admittedly a bit grim. He may still be right in his prediction that the US stock market is a huge bubble that will burst, because the authorities have manipulated the market. He believes It’ll be reduced to half its present value. There are many possibilities. The US trade war is hitting Africa hard, and they are even targeting poor countries like Rwanda. Making America great could leave a long trail of casualties. There’s a lot that could go wrong in nature as well. It looks pretty messed up already.

It’s interesting that some countries have started warning their population that the stability we have experienced for a long time may not last. That has inspired some to suggest a conspiracy, that a war is being planned. I’m pretty sure that the next war on European soil won’t be a planned one. I recently came across a site administered by The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection. The site gives advice for how to deal with different types of emergencies. This is a list of things they think people need to have a few days supply of:

  • drinking water
  • dry food
  • radio with batteries (the authorities use radio to broadcast messages)
  • torch (and batteries of course)
  • candles, firewood and matches
  • first aid equipment and medicine you rely on
  • cash
  • burner with natural gass or methylated spirit

This could be a problem. There is a lot of activity on the housing market. The government gives loans for new apartments at a lower interest than the private banks offer. This is supposed to help people that don’t have enough income to get a loan in a bank, but these new apartments cost too much for low income families. It looks to me that the government is a part of the problem. You can find old houses and apartments in good condition for 1.5 million NOK, but most of the new apartment the government finances cost 2.5-5 million NOK.The other issue is that these apartments don’t have chimneys. They need electricity for heating and ventilation, and this puts a lot of pressure on the grid. So much that it could damage it during cold periods in winter. So a modern low energy house may come with a high price during an emergency.

These are things to think about. Having struggled with NLD and Asberger I know a bit about what I can’t expect from people. Most people don’t consider challenges other people have. In my case it includes chronic physical challenges. There are people a lot worse off than me, and some may even feel that life is pretty dystopic already. Then one can imagine how it’ll be when everybody else needs help too. They probably expect something from me they were never willing to give me when I needed it. I would offer it because I don’t believe in only helping people I like.

I’m not working on a dystopic novel, but I might do it in the future. I have some ideas about how I could do it within the society we already have.

Germans told to stockpile food and water for civil defense

Sweden distribute “be prepared for war” leaflet to all 4.8m homes

The psychoactive words

brain made of books
Books are definitely not the worst you can have on the brain.
Pixtawan via freedigitalphotos.net

My previous post, The book addicts, made me think of an article I read a few years ago. It referred to a study showing that reading made lasting changes to the brain.

The researchers already knew that books could influence us, such as making us feel empathy, as I mentioned in my post yesterday. The study from 2013 also showed something the neuroscientists called shadow activity, which is an increased connectivity in the left temporal cortex. The participants were asked to read 30 pages each evening (Pompeii by Robert Harris) for nine days. Their brains were scanned (fMRI) every morning, including the first five mornings after they had finished the book.

I don’t know what that proves, or whether other studies have confirmed the findings, but it is intriguing. This could be about reading, but also about reflecting on what you have read. In that case I suppose we could argue that once the story is in our head, it continues to change us. I suspect that reading, which includes listening to an audio book, adds something you don’t get from watching a film. I don’t think it’s irrelevant how the story enters the brain. The obvious advantage of reading is everything the director has to leave out, such as the different viewpoints.

Reading is probably better for your sleep too. Watching TV means that you are staring into a light, and if you already have problems sleeping, that is not going to convince your brain. I believe reading is more challenging for the brain too. It has to work with decoding and thinking about whatever happens in the story. It challenges the brain to do something new, especially if it’s the first time you read that book. I usually discover new things when I re-read, so old books still challenge me.

I read new books, but I still think about the books I grew up with, such as A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Little Women, The Bridge to Terabithia, Time Machine, On the Road, and anything by Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot or Roal Dahl. I’m glad my daughter has some good fictional heroes to grow up with too. She’s a big fan of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter, but the main character isn’t necessarily the most important one to her. I find that interesting. I think it suggests that she reflects on what she reads, that she thinks critically, and that is an important skill.

The book addicts

I have written about it before, but it is one of those topics that seem to constantly get in my face, like the bothersome pop-up windows I used to get on my computer. The latest example didn’t really bother me, but I was tempted to comment. I need a break from my deep dive into norse mythology, so I will use this as a diversion.

Goodreads posted one of their interactive questions again yesterday:

I know some people like to use the word nerd as a positive label on themselves, and I assume that a nerd girl problem is in that category, which means it isn’t really a problem. Being nerdy or geeky is clearly a wide spectrum today, but in my mind it matters what kind of knowledge a nerd wants to gather. I could technically identify myself as a Percy Jackson or Harry Potter-nerd, as I really like those worlds, but I’m not comfortable with the word nerd. Maybe I’m too old because I remember when it was anything but a compliment.

I have a feeling it’s something similar with phrases like book hangover and reading withdrawal. They can be used to express something negative, but they can also be used in a positive or humoerous way. Then it’s a way to tell the world how clever you are because you read. It’s sort of like the 20 volume encyclopedia everyone had prominently displayed in their living room in the 1970’s an 80’s. It was called a conversation encyclopedia, but the point wasn’t to talk as most people never used it. The point was to show that you had access to all that information. I guess nothing has changed because today we can get even more information from our small electronic devices, but many don’t use internet for anything useful.

I sometimes find it hard to know when people are being serious and when they are joking, but I assume that this is an example of the latter. People that have book withdrawals naturally read, but is that a problem? Is there such a thing as a reading addiction?

It implies that the reader gets isolated and perhaps even hurt him/herself and his/her family. People talk a lot less than they used to, so whether you constantly read or constantly stream music/films is the same thing. I haven’t heard anyone say that people are addicted because they can’t go to the park or use public transportation without listening to music on their phone. I think there are enough sounds, so I enjoy reading instead of more noise (I include audio books as reading, not sounds).

I often bring a book. I spend quite a lot of time waiting, such as in the doctor’s office and when I take my daughter to one of her after school activities. A book comes in handy then. I listen more to audio books at night than I watch TV, not because it’s necessarily better, but I enjoy it more at the moment.

I’m not sure how to respond to the nerd girl problem. I love the worlds J. K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, and J. R. R. Tolkien created. They are places I want to visit over and over again, but it’s more than that as they are a part of me too, and I even like that very emotional moment when I have just finished the series for the first time. It’s almost like grief, which may not sound like a good experience, but I’m not sure it’s a bad thing.

Books are powerful. It’s stronger magic than any author can invent. They make me angry, happy, sad, anxious, and sometimes even miserable. That’s something we all have to deal with in life. Strange as it may sound, I believe this emotional roller coaster adds something useful. I learn a lot from books.

I do miss the feeling I had the first time I read the book, but I never finish the books I love. They follow me the rest of my life. The strongest magic may be empathy. I feel a lot of that in my interaction with the Harry Potter-characters, including Professor Snape. In a way it’s not me opening a book, it’s the book opening me, and I become a part of someone else’s world. I’m in that world and that world is in me. I don’t love being sad, but that is also sustenance to me, because simply thinking happy thoughts isn’t that useful.

A nice cup of tea

Cup of coffee. I'm more a coffee person. It doesn't remove challenges in life, but when combined with reflection and talking I suppose it helps.
I’m more a coffee person. It doesn’t remove challenges in life, but when combined with reflection and talking I suppose it helps.

I’m so focused on moving forward in my story that I block out everything else. I occasionally come up for air, and that allows me to get a wider perspective. One of the things I reflect on is what I want to include.

J. K. Rowling is my favourite example with her foundation Lumos. The goal is to keep families together, and according to their website 80 percent of the world’s 8 million children that are currently in orphanages, are not orphans. In other words, putting children in institution should be the last solution, but it’s frequently the first. My point is that Lumos makes sense after the Harry Potter books. Rowling made it clear in the story that she thought families belonged together, and what the result can be for orphans. That was one of the messages in the books.

There are many topics I can see as possibilities for my book. Rowling’s cause is very important to me too, for personal reasons, but I’d like to say something about positive thinking as well. A tabloid headline would be something like “we need more negativity!” Imagine a scene from a somewhat outdated British crime show. A woman has just experienced something horrendous, but instead of talking about it, she’s offered a cup of tea and told to cheer up. “We are British. We don’t cry!”

We have probably all heard it: You must stop being so negative! I think there’s a huge difference between being negative and thinking negatively. The latter is about evaluating different options and judging the risk. In other words, it’s a question of facing a task as prepared as possible. There is a tendency to label people as negative if they have any hesitation. Positive thinking has done a lot of damage. Mindfulness is being used as a tool to achieve happiness today. It’s all about what is positive for you, but mindfulness is actually a part of ethics in Buddhism. The end result is probably increased happiness, but the point is what we can do towards others. Wise ethical choices will in a Buddhist view be good karma, and thus make us who we are meant to be. That’s happiness without egotizing.

It needs reflection, which some see as negative. Incidentally, I’ve come across the same attitude concerning unnecessary sepation of children and parents in Norway. It’s almost like parents are offered tea after the Police have taken the child away. Yes, there are things in our society that makes it a lot less than perfect. We don’t talk about it, though. I hope I can subtly address some of it.

Creative writing with Harry Potter and God

 

St. Olav Church
Avaldsnes with its church from 1250 is a fascinating place. It’s the birthplace of Norway and the base for a lot of viking activity before that

If you are a delicate creature that turns into Stephen Fry or Richard Dawkins as soon as the evil G is mentioned, you may want to skip this one.

I keep coming back to Harry Potter, and it’s not just because I aim to write children’s fantasy myself. It’s a great story, and in some ways it’s the blueprint. The only flaw in my opinion is that there is no religion. I think that should be an ingredient, either it’s a religion from real life or something the author designed for this imaginary world. That’s because I very much question the validity of atheism and its ethics.

There are many good, complicated characters in Harry Potter, and Professor Snape is my favourite. I hope I can create a character like that. Harry Potter also reminds me that we need clichés. I have been trying to avoid them because everybody wants to be original, right?. You don’t want to give the readers the feeling that they have read the story before. Many believe we should avoid clichés at all cost, and I have heard some argue that the idea that there is truth in clichés is a cliché too. Nevertheless, I don’t think you should avoid all of them. We need some, but perhaps change them a little.

Stories haven’t changed that much since the Greek tragedies. There are rules to follow, and there should be a reason why we break them. Breaking a rule without asking ourselves why may not be a good idea. Everybody knew the outcome of the Greek tragedies, and we follow the same formula today. It wouldn’t be satisfactory to most people if evil won because Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or Frodo failed. Our mission as writers seems to be to present the old story in a new way. Literature is our new Bible. It’s basically the same story. We can make some changes, and surprise the reader along the way, but the conclusion is pretty much fixed.

When we remove a cliché we should ask ourselves whether the truth can be communicated without it. I admit that the idea of the chosen one has been done to death, but it is very much us. Most major religions have people they see as the chosen one. That’s probably because people tend to mess things up. There is a right path and a wrong path. We sometimes need to find our way back to the path we used to follow, and sometimes we need someone to build a new path. That’s what the chosen ones in real life do. They inspire us as long as they stick to the story documented in the Scriptures, so why not in our stories as well? It’s a way for us to learn something about ourselves. Something needs to stay the same to prevent solutions that are convenient at the time.

Some cliches are easy to break. Names in fantasy stories are supposed to sound like they come from a strange world. If you haven’t grown up in Scandinavia the names in The Lord of the Rings do the job. African names would be different enough to most of us too, so why not try it? J. K. Rowling made up her own funny names, but she used many familiar things in the Harry Potter books (scrying glass, prophecy, an orphan who is the chosen one, magic, all evil wizards and witches come from the same house, medieval world etc), and she’s clearly used the same sources as Tolkien, Roald Dahl and C. S. Lewis, but she still made the old story interesting.

I do miss religion in fantasy, though. I believe we are hardwired to worship a creator (atheism doesn’t exist). It’s fascinating to see the many similarities between different mythologies, and how it’s mostly when we rebel against what built this civilization that things go wrong. The many mistakes by the Church has to do with people choosing to ignore the core of the Bible in order to get power, or to hide their crimes. The Church has basically been run by Voldemort and cowards like Lucius Malfoy and Cornelius Fudge.

In other words, God’s followers today need a hero, a chosen one, as its two biggest rivals do. That will be hard, maybe impossible to accomplish in real life. There are too many not willing to lose power, and there’s been too many false prophets/chosen ones. I still don’t think it would be a bad idea to plant that literary seed. Atheists of course believe it’s possible to make moral decisions without religion. I might get back to that in a later post, but I personally don’t think it would be anything else than dystopia. I’m very much an unruly Christian. I’m not loyal to any church, but I still like the idea of religion. It makes sense to me.

That reminds me of what may be a real danger in the future. Everybody jumped on the “Trump is the reason the world is the way it is-bandwagon” as soon as he was elected. The truth is that at least the last three presidents before him left office with  a pretty bad legacy, but many people are talking like the world was right before Trump, and we need a hero, a chosen one to put things right again. They want another “a change we can believe in-president”. That makes me wonder what we are willing to believe in to make that happen. I have, admittedly, an interest in dystopia, but I believe the world is in a situation where some rather dark scenarios would be realistic.

I haven’t made room for religion in my own story yet, as I am still early in the process of building that world, but as this post indicates I’m pretty sure I couldn’t defend any ethics that didn’t include religion. Tolkien is definitely the blueprint there.

The magicians

I like to write down ideas in my notebook, which allows me to write anywhere, in any situation
I like to write down ideas in my notebook, which allows me to write anywhere, in any situation

Keidi Keating likes to ask questions on Twitter. I woke up to this tweet today:

To write is to … (fill in the missing words).

I was tempted to answer, but I wasn’t quite sure how honest I could be. It’s sort of like when people say “how are you?” They are not really expecting to hear a detailed account of your life.

There are many reasons why I write. First of all, it feels like I have to. It’s an obsession, and I feel unwell if I don’t write. I’m literally drawn to it. There are several big underlying issues involved, and one of them is a need to prove something. It’s very personal.

I try not to mention it because writing is the main focus on this blog. The garret is not a blog about challenges, but it is true that I have some. I have nonverbal learning disorder, which is so close to Asberger syndrome that many either don’t see it, or choose not to. A study from Yale a few year ago showed that 80 percent with Asberger also met the criteria for NLD. The point I wanted to make was that many have had clear ideas about what I could and couldn’t do. It was about what I couldn’t do most of the time.

I’ve had a lot of jobs in different fields where I wasn’t successful, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I have always had a feeling that writing was my strongest side. It was difficult to prove, though. I have never been diagnosed with learning disability, but I suspect I may have some. I’m slow. Nothing I do happens at a high speed, which makes it hard to prove anything as you don’t have that much time to prove yourself in any job. That’s also why it has taken me so long time to write the book I’m working on. I suspect that many people have written me off a long time ago. My wife has been very supportive, as have an uncle who keeps encouraging me.

I want to show everyone else that I can, that they were wrong about me. I don’t want them to keep thinking of me as the man that didn’t succeed in any job. I want to show them that there is something wrong with the definition of work as well. The present definition states that if you can’t support yourself financially, it’s not work. I believe there is value in what I do, either it’ll be profitable or not.

The playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote once that “To live is to war with trolls in heart and soul. To write is to sit in judgement on oneself.” He was a man full of conflicts, as I suppose we all are. Writing is hard, but when we succeed, we understand life better. We make sense of our surroundings. It’s been my experience that I think with my pen or keyboard. I develop ideas or organize ideas through writing. They were there all the time; I just couldn’t see them. Something magical happens when you read, but the author feels that magic much stronger when he/she writes the story. I do at least.

The jigsaw puzzle

The viking longhouse plays a part in my story,so I was doing research at the local Viking festival this summer.
The viking longhouse plays a part in my story,so I was doing research at the local Viking festival this summer.

I found myself in a very comfortable situation a couple of weeks ago. Some people like to call it the flow zone, or just the zone if they are trying to be cool. Personally, I don’t try. I do.

After struggling to make progress on my story I decided to go back to old technology. I’ve been bringing my notebook everywhere recently, and whenever I had an idea I wrote it down. I had a lot of good ones for a couple of weeks, but got sick with some virus, which was very inconvient. To make things worse I got sucked into World Cup. I haven’t followed football for years, because it’s a waste of time. One of the big players is Leoni Messi from Argentina. He apparantly showed a rare glimpse of inspiration 15 minutes into the third match (sort of like the episode of Monthy Python when Greek and German philosophers met), which says it all. It means that people who wanted to see something special from Messi had to wait over 200 minutes for his first goal. That’s common because the highlights are few and far apart in football. There’s a whole lot of nothing.

I didn’t watch the match as I had lost my interest in the championship by then. I have decided to focus on writing, which is hard now that my daughter has started her holiday. On the other hand, these notes will bring me a lot further, and when I have finished working them into the script, I hope to have reached 50 000 words. I don’t have a particular goal as this is the first novel I have ever attempted to write. I don’t know what to compare myself to, but Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is about 77 000 words. I think that’s a little short, but it’s alright for the first book in a series.

There were many stalls at the festival, like some viking inspired jewelry.
There were many stalls at the festival, like some viking inspired jewelry.

Many writers talk about procrastination in the podcasts I listen to. That could be a problem for me as well, or not. You might call it semantics, but I don’t see it as procrastination in my case. I need to be in a bubble with absolutely no disturbances or distractions. Someone talking to me is enough to ruin that day. I try to go back to work, but find it hard to focus.

I probably have learning difficulties. That would certainly explain the problems I always had in school. I was never diagnosed, and I’ve never used it as an excuse, but it would make sense. In terms of writing it may mean that I shouldn’t listen to writers talking about how they write 2000-3000 words a day as if it is no effort at all. That’s never going to be me. Writing is a jigsaw puzzle to me. I sometimes think long and hard before I discover a piece and where it fits. I sometimes work faster, but this book will be done my way. A professional writer could probably have completed my jigsaw in six months, but I it has taken me more years than I want to admit. I think I am getting closer, though. The way things are looking now I hope to finish the story by Christmas, and then I want to spend a few months editing.

I love series, and sad goodbyes

Some of the series that have motivated my daughter to continue reading
Some of the series that have motivated my daughter to continue reading

I don’t like goodbyes. That goes for literature as well. I love series and I’m glad my daughter does too. I started reading very late because it was difficult. I still struggle in the sense that reading requires a lot of work, but when I found the motivation from around the age of 15, I read anyway.

I think Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple were my first literary acquaintances. I also discovered science fiction around that time, and these books still fascinate me. I like the idea that I will have more experiences together with these acquaintances after I have finished a book, and it’s a really sad feeling when I get closer and closer to end end of the last book. I still think it’s a good idea to end the story. There’s a sort of lesson in it, because dealing with goodbyes and losses is definitely a part of life.

I’m not a big fan of stories that never ends. I guess there is no limit to how long it can be if the writer continues to come up with good scenarios, but we should also accept that things come to an end. I’m glad there are series like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter because if kids are interested, they’ll want to read the whole series. You’d still have to be a really loyal fan to be reading book 50 from the same class at Hogwarts.

I have read several comments on Twitter that goes something like this: “I don’t understand people that don’t read.” Some even seem to think that not reading makes you lesser. I agree with the quote in a way because reading has so many benefits. It’s a lot of fun for starters, and I never feel that I’ve wasted my time. It’s the World Cup in Russia now. I stopped following football a long time ago. It didn’t give me the joy I remember from childhood. In fact, it mostly produces negative feelings today, and I feel long after the match that I could have done something better with my time. I feel like that about a lot of TV these days. I still watch some of my favourite series/genres in between, but few things give me as much as reading, writing, and listening to music.

I do plan to watch a film today, though. The family is going to see Jurassic World at the cinema. I’m sure the special effects will be good, but when this trilogy has been completed, there’ll be six Jurassic films. Let’s just say I don’t expect a perfect story, but I hope my daughter will be as amazed as I was with Spielberg’s films many years ago. I get that from books too, but I do miss the feeling of antcipation as the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings-film was about to be released. That was an experience I didn’t think I’d get again.

I also disagree with the statement above because if you get the same joy out of TV and football, there’s no need to stop doing what makes life special. Reading is about more than joy, though. I was a child that didn’t read much. I struggled so much with it that I didn’t get any enjoyment out of it at all. I have a lot of sympathy for people in that situation, but it seems harsh to suggest that they have less than us.

The fire

This is very much indirectly related to literature. Norwegian journalists like to use the word fire when something is debated on Twitter. Donald Trump seems to be cause of the latest Twitter fire.

Most of the high-profile authors I’m following have an opinion on it. I’m glad they do, and I appreciate the focus on child-caregiver separation, but this is starting to look like #metoo, or the way media covered the so-called Syrian refugee crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I think we have a responsibility to help, but media seemed in both cases more interested in appealing to our feelings than reporting the truth. I recall some articles where the journalists could have asked themselves some critical questions.

We are emotional beings and sometimes this makes us outraged, but I frequently ask myself why now? I agree that Donald Trump’s immigration policy is appalling, and that we should protest, but is this really new? Was this our first opportunity to speak out against separating children and parents? I read some responses on Twitter that mentioned the Rumanian orphanages we all saw on TV after the Rumanian dictator Ceausescu had been executed. I believe the problem is much bigger. I have seen Norwegians as angry as the rest of the world, and one member of Parliament suggested that the government made it clear to the US administration that this is unacceptable, because that’s what friends do. There are major buts in my opinion.

You can google the Child Protective Services (CPS) in almost any country and find cases that look like state kidnapping. The Norwegian CPS is known for separation children and parents when it isn’t needed. They work with the Police, and “arrests” are frequently being made at maternity wards and at home. As most of these children don’t want to leave, these “arrests” turn into very aggressive actions. The last case I know about was a Canadian citizen that was picked up by six police officers and two CPS-employees. They were chasing this child down the street and forced him to the ground. In that case the parents wanted to home-school the boy because the school didn’t deal with bullying and death threats. When babies are taken from birth it’s not because of something that has happened, but because of something that may happen in the future, and the CPS don’t need to prove their case. Many professionals have criticized the CPS for human rights violations and blatant disregard for the law, but as long as the politicians don’t reform the system, nothing will change.

Low income is one risk, which could be why there is a majority of minorities in the CPS-system. That doesn’t make any sense because the authorities spend $ 2.5 billion a year on the CPS, and a big part of the money goes to international institutions. Why not simply help the parents directly? I like what J. K. Rowling is doing with Lumos. She’s been very active on Twitter recently:

As I mentioned earlier I’m glad there is a focus on the topic. Many of us that want to reform the CPS system have wanted that for a long time. It makes me angry, sad, and frustrated seeing people joining in on the anti-Trump campaign when they know that what goes on here isn’t any better. There are parents in my country that win in court, but the CPS refuse to return the child because too much time has passed. There is a lot of statistics showing that foster children are doing much worse than the general population, which supports J.K. Rowling’s claims.

Incidentally, I’m not surprised that this is important to Rowling. Family is important in the Harry Potter books, and in the Norwegian society the Weasley family would be at risk. Low income and many children are automatically suspicious (and a lifestyle outside the mainstream), but as the books showed children are better off at home. That’s why we need to focus on this, and not do like most people, assume that our own governments always make good decisions.