Flink – something only Danes can be. But are they?

So much to write about, such lack of inspiration.

I could write about Denmark’s new status as instigator of a world-wide war against Islam. If it wasn’t so incredibly depressing that I can’t bring myself to do it. Read about it here if you have the necessary stamina.

I could be techno-nerdy and write about Google Instant, but I haven’t made my mind up yet if I really need more speed… I tend to agree with Charlie Brooker.

What I will tell you about is a most unpleasant episode the other morning at Rungsted station, an otherwise very civilised place. Son and I were lurking in front of the doors into the kiosk, wondering whether we had time to go in there or not. We weren’t in the most intelligent of spots… A woman came out and slammed the door into son. I said two things out loud. First, to son, that it wasn’t the most intelligent position he’d chosen, secondly, to woman, that even if he was a bit in the way of the door, she could still apologise for banging the door into his face. She bent down, so her face was right in front of son’s and screamed into his face: YOUR MOTHER SAYS I SHOULD APOLOGISE. I’M VEEERY SORRY. IS THAT OKAY? then standing up and staring at me angrily. Honestly, I felt so sorry for her, what a sad sad life she must have to scream like that at an innocent child. So I sent her a big smile and wished for her that she might have a better rest-of-the-day, as she clearly needed it. Then of course she started screaming at me. Everybody on the platform stared at her.

My son was rather shocked, he’d never witnessed behaviour like that before – good for him! Made me think of new Danish initiative called F…… Flink (link in Danish). It’s not translatable – even though the f-word is known by most people. I’ll try to explain rather than translate: The f-word is used very freely here – with the distance there always is to words in a foreign language. No matter how familiar this language is. Same with the word love, which most Danes can say without blushing. The similar Danish word – not as easily. Flink is a very Danish word, somewhat related to hygge, which I’ve discussed with many English-speakers. It means nice, but is much narrower. You can be a flink person, but you can’t have a flink meal or a flink journey. So when you’re flink, you’re being a nice, friendly, decent person.

What the F…… Flink initiative tries – I fear in vain – is to get the Danes to be a lot more flinke to each other. We are usually really flinke to tourists and other visitors who are not too brown-skinned, but we’re certainly not always very flinke to each other. Episodes like the above are not unusual.

I try to be flink to other people every day. In fact I’ve made a promise to myself to “do a good deed a day”. I do it only for me. I’m not altruistic or anything. But it creates such a nice (no, not flink) feeling inside when you see the surprised and pleased smile on somebody else’s face when you’ve let them out in traffic, offered them shelter under your umbrella or your valid train ticket or whatever. And I’m very, very puzzled why everybody else don’t do the same (I do, luckily, know a lot of really flinke people who do the same, but out and about I meet lots of people who definitely don’t). It’s such an easy shortcut to the smug feel-good warmth we all love.

I wish I had the personality to be a real do-gooder, one of those who make a tangible difference to people in real need. You know, sell my house and donate the proceeds to the poor and live in a tent. Or working for some charity in Africa. Or, or, or. But I don’t. I just donate a tiny bit of my huge surplus occasionally so that I can continue living my comfortable life and even feel good about it.

Although I don’t really believe it’s going to happen, I really wish the F…… Flink initiative all the best. And hereby encourage *all* my readers to go out there and be flink. Not just today, but for the rest of your life.

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