Plato’s Cave and Complacency

One argument I regularly have to field is

“Sure Denmark isn’t perfect. Nowhere is.”

This comes in variants, depending on how shitty the other person is feeling about what I just said.

“Your country isn’t perfect, either. HA!”



Don’t you think I know nowhere is perfect? Oh, honestly! But for as long as we are living in Plato’s cave, I can see the perfect country projected on the wall.  I can see how it would look, what would happen there and how it would make me feel.

My country used to upset me a lot because it fell short of its potential in several areas. Denmark upsets me for the same reason in different areas.

Everyone everyone! It’s okay to talk about how a country isn’t perfect! I appreciate the good bits but I reserve the right to talk about the rubbish bits, too.

Please, if you are an immigrant to any country, do not feel like you are a “guest” and may not talk freely. (Exception: if you live in a country which enforces your silence with threats or actual violence). Last weekend, an immigrant of 14 years told me that “weather” transformed my country into a 3rd world nation. If he felt like a “guest”, I never would have had that refreshing perspective. I never would have laughed and said “You’ve got that right!” Who knows, sharing that perspective with the right person, would lead to the UK getting better at weather. Stranger things have happened.

Stop enforcing complacency, everyone! The only way anything every gets done or improves, is if people can look at things from all angles.

No, nowhere is perfect. Let’s embrace that and make the place we are living in as good as it can be.

13 thoughts on “Plato’s Cave and Complacency

  1. Enjoyed reading this page. It’s humourous and very well written even according to Danish standards :) (Hope you don’t hate smileys!) One thing puzzled me though. When you’re so into politeness why use such crude expressions when campaigning for the sweet thingy?


  2. After I read your last piece, referred to from the Guardian, I think (congrats!), and made the short comment, I stayed to read some more, picking writings mostly from December and May, hoping you’d be in a good mood because of the season. It was worth it, very funny stuff! Still, I do think you have missed a point or two in meeting the Danes.
    Danes like to meet in sports clubs and in societies for special interests. Any sport, any special interest, really. They are all over the place and you’ll be most welcome. Also, it’s an easy way to avoid slacking airheads, who seem to be the ones you most often encounter in the kingdom. That’s a great pity. Lots of us are better than that, I’m sure.
    Hope you don’t mind me turning the tables on you as you seem to be okay with a wee challenge. Being in the educating business, I meet quite a few English teachers from Britain and the US and I always aim at giving them the benefit of the doubt, I think you’d call it, but I’m usually disappointed. Among the few languages and cultures I know well, neither of theirs are my top priority or my main interest.
    Still, upon meeting them and working with some of them, I find that not only do I speak and write better English than they do; I also know more about their national literature and arts, even their national history sometimes, than they do themselves. They completely lack ‘Bildung’. That’s why they’re not invited to my get-togethers. My guests would be bored stiff. Being exposed to an American teacher taking pride in his nationality in a rather condescending way and in his ability to speak Danish like a fourteen-year-old nearly kill my aunt once. But she’s finicky, I’ll admit.
    Now, to answer your question, may I observe that although you work as a teacher in Denmark, the frame of references of your blog is exceedingly plain? Are you trying to be all inclusive? There are so many nice metaphors, not to speak of the myriads of illuminating allusions to Anglo literature and art, at your disposal in your good language, so why go for the short version of ‘fornication’ all the time. I mean, we do know how to fuck, around here, you know, it’s not Latin grammar. Tell us something we don’t know, please. Are you game?


    1. Aww bless you! I’ve got loads of Danish friends. I’m having a birthday party in a few weeks and the majority of guests are Danish *and* they’re not even my bf’s Danes! Que pasa? It’s probably all the volunteering and socialising I do.
      The reason I don’t talk about those Danes is because I don’t really talk about my friends and it would identify them and that’s not fair. The horrible, mindless ones are fair game because they’re not my mates, they’re some random and as such are unidentifiable. Does that make sense?
      If I lack “dannelse”, it’s because I’m a product of my education! I was treated as an empty vessel for 16 years. If I recall correctly. You’re right about native English speakers often being worse than those who have had to learn English as a foreign language. It’s a strange phenomenon, indeed.

      The reason I drop the f bomb at will is simply because if I don’t, it will come out somewhere. I work with children, it could be messy. This is where it comes out.

      Guardian whatnow? What reference? I missed that one!


  3. ‘They’, Heidi? You really live up to you name, don’t you? (If you get my drift, which I’m sure you don’t, or am I wrong?)


  4. Does it make sense? Well, I’m sure you can write about good people in a nice way, even productively, I’d say. On the other hand, nobody blogs about me and my friends in any way without being excommunicated on the spot, no questions asked.
    Also, I’m sure, you don’t get much attention in this game being all nice. About the reference: I can’t be sure. I began reading and ended up at your place. I read about ten articles in various major Anglo dailies, weeklies and monthlies and one of them referred to your blog quite prominently. Could have been the Atlantic, Daily Beast, Boston Globe, Harper’s or something. It’d give your blog some traffic, I’d guess, so you should be able to see it in your blog stats’ references.


    1. I had a look at my stats, no dice. Just you :)

      I bet I could talk about my friends, if I only said nice things, but yeah, no one cares. I’d stick to politics/current events but it’s hard when I stay away from the news in the winter on purpose.


  5. Kelly Draper is a British teacher who came to Denmark four years ago for work. She has been acting informally as a critical friend to Denmark. This has not gone down particularly well with Danes, who often tell her she should like it or leave it. Her blog is at


  6. Went back through my internet session. This was the reference, but no source I’m afraid. Could pick up soon, though, so you’d better get your puha together! .)


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