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Samfundssind . . . Love Thy Neighbour

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Thursday, August 06, 2020


Thank you MOLLIEMAC!! She sent me the link above about the Danish concept of ‘Samfundssind’ which is a compound noun of ‘samfund’ (society) and ‘sind’ (mind). Dating back to their Prime Minister's call for solidarity pre WWII . . .Not much used since then, but recently revived in Denmark to focus pandemic response.

Many of us are aware of "hygge": that marvellous Danish concept of "coziness", of being at home, of enjoying simple warmth with family and close friends.

But "Samfundssind" is all about seeking community in society by working together and caring for those we may not know at all-- even when we have to stay physically apart.

What expressions of samfundssind have helped?

Small acts of kindness -- support for community businesses. Hand washing, Not hoarding. A trendy Copenhagen chef who pivoted from cutting edge molecular cuisines to comfort foods for the homeless and socially vulnerable. Pivoting from the relatively inward-focused "hygge" to put the good of the greater society above the personal interests of myself and my own family. Understanding that governments can only do so much, and that we as responsible citizens may need to create social norms which quite frankly shame selfishness.

"Samfundssind" in all its nuance may ultimately be untranslateable. But: we can see it from here, can't we?

Particularly in the context of the unfortunately politicized mask controversy (and the uptick of COVID cases with the resumption of "wedding season" unmasked gatherings . . . ).

When I wear a mask, I'm protecting you from my exhalations. When you wear a mask, you're protecting me.

And we have that time-honoured Christian precept, from Leviticus 19:18 but also endorsed by rabbis of Jesus' time.

Yes. You know it.

"Love thy neighbour as thyself".
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