James Michael Wine weaves a personal journey of learning, at turns humorous, political, poetic and insightful, as he claims that Sweden is probably the best country on Earth. Love brought him to the North, but it was the use of “Sweden” as a code word for something notorious or evil during the 2008 US presidential election - which no doubt will be used again in 2012 - that triggered this book. Digging through his life in the two cultures for reasons behind this code, Wine comes across a Swedish fact so mind-boggling to his American mind that it compels him to explore this moment on the planet and how each country grapples with the momentous challenges never before faced by civilization.
“As always things seem to come down to twos. The one that didn’t need to do it but did and the one who should have done it and won’t. Sweden’s total CO2 emissions are a pittance compared to the staggering amounts that American activity has pushed up into into the wild blue yonder. In the grand scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter what Sweden does, numbers-wise. Yet they felt compelled to do right by themselves and the world. As an American, I have to ask myself, why did the Swedes do that? Then, how did they do that? Finally, why the hell didn’t we do that?
Instead of the promised bold American leadership, we are left to witness a pathetic farce in the US Senate and a midterm election that brought 48 climate deniers into Congress. Instead we have to withstand the whiny voices that would restore honor to a country that has shirked its responsibilities. Instead we put up with political forces that spread fear by invoking the code word Sweden. I can only take comfort in Winston Churchill’s observation and hope like hell it’s still true: ‘You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they’ve tried everything else.’
Would that one could change the United States into Sweden, if only to restore the honor that one deserves by doing the right thing right for the right reason. Something grand indeed. In my book, this responsible stand and those effective actions make Sweden, right now, probably the best country on Earth.”