How to kill initiative

We all live on the same planet, one world but one world with an infinite number of ways to look at things, and at each other. Some times it can be extremely frustrating when the people who could easily help me don’t. Not because they disapprove of what I’m doing in any way, quite the opposite is true. The people who could help me most definitely approve of what I’m doing. The reason they won’t help me is that they perceive that what I’m doing is impossible.

How can something that is in fact very easy be perceived as impossible? Simple, it just doesn’t fit into their perception of what is possible and therefore it must be impossible. I feel like screaming.

You must be wondering by now what this impossible thing I’m trying to do is. I want to teach people who don’t know how to ride a bike the skill of cycling. The people in Swedish society who can’t cycle are usually women who grew up outside of Europe and migrated here. My experience tells me that given the chance many of these women jump at the chance of free bike lessons. The last time I set up a class it took just two hours from finding just one woman who wanted to learn cycling until I held the first lesson for a full group. And it was even raining. All I need to do is to find just one woman who is interested and Bob’s your uncle we have a group of learner cyclists. I have the bikes, I have the teachers and the financing. All I need is one keen woman. But this is perceived as impossible.

The problem as I see it is a falsely based attitude to immigrants. People who have on their own initiative migrated long distances arriving at a destination after a journey that in many instances is about as close to impossible as you can get. People in other words with initiative and lots of it.

The problems start when the migrant comes into contact with other people who mainly by luck of birthplace have never been forced to drastically take full control over their lives and pull up all their roots. There is a conflict of perspectives. Conflicts rarely benefit anyone involved but usually one side loses more than the other.

We tend to judge other people by outward signs such as language. Anyone who can’t speak the local language fluently will many times be perceived as somehow lacking, no matter how many other languages that person might be fluent in. The help available in Sweden is of the highest quality and given by teachers with both empathy and skills, it’s not the teachers it’s the system. A migrant entering this system will receive a great education but at a cost and that cost is usually the loss of their wonderful initiative. The result is a dependence on a system designed by people who however willing have a hard time understanding the migrants perspective. Anything that isn’t part of the system doesn’t have a place in the system and is in other words impossible.

Maybe I’m writing this whilst frustrated after a brush with an unhelpful receptionist, probably one with too much work on their plate to have the time to be able to think in different perspectives but my frustration is real. Even if it’s based on my own “migrants perceptive”.

I’m going to find my group of learner cyclists with or without the help of the local establishment. And then I’m going to hold the first lessons right outside of the town hall. Let see what is or is not possible. Wish me luck!

Ian Fiddies, 12th August, but this time I won’t say where


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