As may be apparent to those who know me, I’m a patriot. For all its weird kinks and hangups, I love my country with a passion that is more than a little embarrassing to those who have to listen to me wax poetic about its qualities.
I’m freakishly large and fair-skinned, bright-eyed and, I’m told, rather a scary sight. Were it not for my wardrobe and lack of body ink, I could easily be confused with a skinhead. And that’s when love of country picks up strange bedfellows, like ultranationalism, racism, violent activism and xenophobia. Being a patriot while looking like me is a high-risk endeavour.
But it is not my skin that makes me Norwegian. Neither is it my love of country. Nor my anti-racism.
What makes me Norwegian is that I like to fight.
When I learned martial arts, I realised that I really enjoyed fighting. It was exhilirating. I didn’t fight people in the streets or bully the weak for fun, but I enjoyed the exchange of grips, kicks and punches. Of course it hurt, and I frequently had my ass handed to me, but no more than I can explain love can I explain how I feel about fighting.
I don’t even have to fight physically. A good argument or a heated debate are good too. It gets the blood pumping and reminds you that this is the life you get. Make it count.
With our national day around the corner, I feel good about knowing I have friends from a range of political and religious factions, most of which I don’t agree with. But it’s OK, because they’re cool people who like to fight.
I like to think, in my romantic myopia, that this is an integral part of being Norwegian; the irrational urge to get into a fight and make the gods take notice of our efforts. Right or wrong, we do our best to make the world a little better than it was with our fighting.
And if you disagree, we can always fight over it.
Happy May 17.