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  1. VIP Member
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    #1

    Freedom, part four

    Would you please correct the mistakes in the fourth part of my text?

    The distance between the immigrant and the middle-class suburb is just a few kilometres, but the invisible gap between them is enormous. I stroll regularly along the quiet, residential streets. They remind me of the suburb where I spent 28 years of my life before moving to Sweden. As soon as I come into the street, I feel calm, as if I am on another planet. Nothing seems to disturb the peace of this place. An occasional car passes by, a cyclist or a dog owner and his dog, and then there is no movement at all. Not a single paper-wrapper stirs, because there is no rubbish in the street. Hedges are trimmed, wood fences are well-maintained, and leaves blown and vacuumed regularly. There is nothing extraordinary with the houses, built as prefabs or in timber, but their prices have rocketed in recent years. Their owners are rubbing their hands when they see how their once cheap-built homes are now more sought-after than ever.
    In this wealthy neighbourhood, a woman wearing a niqab or a man in a thobe will be out of place. Nobody will insult them verbally, but they will get so many hostile stares and they will sense they are not welcome here. And if the state decides to build some kind of refugee centre, the inhabitants will unite and protest in all possible ways to prevent its construction.

    I imagine knocking at the doors of the expensive homes and asking their inhabitants about the government’s generous immigration and refugee policy. I will probably get the same answer everywhere. People will tell me they whole-heartedly support the government. The country has the duty to help refugees in need, especially those who are fleeing war and poverty. They will enthuse about Sweden’s generosity and humanity and criticise other EU countries for their selfishness. But if I returned the next day with one of two refugees and asked the same people to take them in their beautiful homes, I am convinced that none of them would be willing to help them. They will mention hundreds of different reasons for their refusal: they have small children, their grandparents are ill and in need of care, they are going to refurbish their home, they are travelling abroad tomorrow, they are divorcing...They will find all kinds of excuses not to have a stranger in their homes.

    During these years, I have walked in this suburb hundreds of times, but I have never seen neighbours chatting over the fence. Neither have I seen them having barbecue together. This is not a place to make friends or have fun together. You come to your home to have rest and prepare yourself for another working day. When you return from work late in the afternoon, you are already mentally and physically exhausted to mix with other people. If you still have a bit of energy, you switch on the TV and, on the screen everything is already prepared and served for you, from information to entertainment.

    Whenever I see empty gardens and orchards, my mind drifts back to the street where I grew up and where I spent such wonderful time with my neighbours. The contrast between two countries could not be greater. I chatted with my neighbours almost every day. We talked about all sorts of things and problems: inflation, politics, sports, culture or prices of groceries and petrol. We shared good and bad things, especially during the war when the whole street lived like a large family. Unlike in Sweden, people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not afraid of talking about feelings. When they are angry, they show it openly, while the Swedes usually bury their anger deep in their minds. They can carry resentment within themselves for years and decades until they meet a psychotherapist who encourages them to open their souls, and first then they dig in the recesses of their memories and talk about the past. This behaviour is a result of the upbringing which instils in children the importance of hiding your own feelings. In the end, you get human beings who are afraid of telling or showing the others what they really feel. Therefore, many Swedes blush when you pay them compliments. They simply do not know how to handle emotions.

    There is no doubt that Swedish politicians and CEOs of large companies have the most benefit of this kind of mentality. People who are withdrawn and afraid of feelings are also afraid of rebelling against the authorities. Of course, you are unwilling to go on strike and fight for your rights when you have been told since childhood that showing anger and complaining are signs of weakness. Therefore, when the Swedes see foreigners flying into a rage, they start to panic. They see something imaginable, which leaves them stunned. When that happens, everyone wishes to be somewhere else -- the Swedes away from the people who cannot control themselves, and the foreigners away from human beings who are like statues, devoid of any emotions.

    To my regret, after decades spent here, I am turning into the very same people who surround me. At the beginning, I wondered how they could behave in such a way and be so cold, but their coldness seemed to have infected me and my feelings. Many years ago I would cry when I saw people suffering on TV or when I read a book describing the plight of innocent people, but then my tears suddenly dried out, and never returned. The years of my own suffering have turned me insensible, probably as a sort of inner self-defence. I started to avoid people, did not want to enter into discussions with them because it made me only disappointed. It is meaningless to talk about real freedom or manipulation to someone who sits in his own house, buys a new car every few years, eats in a restaurant at least once in a week, and travels on holiday twice a year. I do not need to talk to such people to know their reply, “Mate, if you don’t like it here move away to another country.”

    In many gardens, I see swings, trampolines and slides, but they are usually unused. For some reason Swedish children prefer to stay indoors. I do not know if it is because of modern gadgets which take most of their time, or aversion to physical activity, or laziness, but the fact is that playgrounds remain mostly empty. The consequences of this behaviour can be seen in the street whenever you meet a group of teenagers. Whereas twenty years ago obesity among the youth was almost insignificant, today it has become a prevalent health problem. When I was a child, I drank only water and ate fruit of all sorts, but the boys and girls I see around drink energy drinks like water and eat large amounts of sweets as if they have just run a marathon.

    Many years ago, a Swedish family invited me to their summer cottage close to the little lake. When we arrived there driving through the woods, far away from asphalt roads and habitation, I was struck by the beauty of the place. The cottage stood just about twenty meters from the sparkling water. I immediately run into the lake and swam a few times to the opposite bank and back, and couldn’t get enough of it. The water was warm, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, birds were singing in the trees, and I had survived the war and had a bright future in front of me. I wished I could stay in that cottage for ever and jump in the water as soon as I wake up, and then swim for hours until I become exhausted.
    The couple had two teenage sons, but instead of enjoying the beautiful lake, they sat indoors, playing video games with their neighbours. At that time, I did not know much about Sweden, and I believed there was something wrong with them, but later I understood that the majority of teenagers are like them. They prefer virtual reality to real life.
    TO BE CONTINUED

  2. teechar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Freedom, part four

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    The distance between the immigrant and the middle-class suburb is just a few kilometres, but the invisible gap between them is enormous. I stroll regularly along the quiet, residential streets of the latter. They remind me of the suburb in my home country where I spent 28 years of my life before moving to Sweden. As soon as I come into walk onto the street, I feel calm, as if I am on another planet. Nothing seems to disturb the peace of this place. An occasional car passes by, or I might see a cyclist or a person walking a dog, dog owner and his dog, and then there is no movement at all. Not a single paper-wrapper stirs, because there is no rubbish in those squeaky-clean streets. Hedges are trimmed, wood fences are well-maintained, and leaves blown and vacuumed regularly. There is nothing extraordinary with the houses, built as prefabs or in timber, but their prices have rocketed in recent years. Their owners are rubbing their hands when they see how their once cheaply built homes are now more sought-after than ever.

    In this wealthy neighbourhood, a woman wearing a niqab or a man in a thobe will be out of place. Nobody will insult them verbally, but they will get so many hostile stares and they will sense they are not welcome here. And if the state decides to build some kind of refugee centre, the inhabitants residents will unite and protest in all possible ways to prevent its construction.

    I imagine knocking at the doors of the expensive homes and asking their inhabitants about the government’s generous immigration and refugee policy. I will probably get the same answer everywhere. People will tell me they wholeheartedly support the government. The country has the a duty to help refugees in need, especially those who are fleeing war and poverty. They will enthuse about Sweden’s generosity and humanity and criticize other EU countries for their selfishness. But if I returned the next day with one of or two refugees and asked the same people to take them in their beautiful homes, I am convinced that none of them would be willing to help them. They will mention hundreds plenty of different reasons for their refusal: they have small children; their grandparents are ill and in need of care; they are going to refurbish their home; they are travelling abroad tomorrow; they are in the middle of a divorce, etc. ing...They will find all kinds of excuses not to have a stranger in their homes.

    During these years, I have walked in this suburb hundreds of times, but I have never seen neighbours chatting over the fence. Neither have I seen them having a barbecue together. This is not a place to make friends or have fun together. You come to your home to have a rest and prepare yourself for another working day. When you return from work late in the afternoon, you are already mentally and physically exhausted to mix with other people. If you still have a bit of energy, you switch on the TV and, on the screen everything is already prepared for you and served for to you, from information to entertainment.

    Whenever I see empty gardens and orchards, my mind drifts back to the street where I grew up and where I spent such a wonderful time with my neighbours. The contrast between the two countries could not be greater. Back home, I chatted with my neighbours almost every day. We talked about all sorts of things and problems: inflation, politics, sports, culture or the prices of groceries and petrol. We shared good and bad times, things, especially during the war when the whole street lived like a large family. Unlike in Sweden, people in Bosnia and Herzegovina are not afraid of talking about feelings. When they are angry, they show it openly, while the Swedes usually bury their anger deep inside. their minds. They can carry resentment within themselves for years and decades until they meet a psychotherapist who encourages them to open their souls, and first then they dig deep into the recesses of their memories and talk about the past. This behaviour is a result of the upbringing which instills in children the importance of hiding your their own feelings. In the end, you get It produces human beings who are afraid of telling or showing the others what they really feel. Therefore, many Swedes blush when you pay them compliments. They simply do not know how to handle emotions.

    There is no doubt that Swedish politicians and CEOs of large companies have the benefit the most benefit of from this kind of mentality. People who are withdrawn and afraid of feelings are also afraid of rebelling against the authorities. Of course, you are unwilling to go on strike and fight for your rights when you have been told since childhood that showing anger and complaining are signs of weakness. Therefore, when the Swedes see foreigners flying into a rage, they start to panic. They see something unimaginable, which leaves them stunned. When that happens, everyone wishes to be somewhere else -- the Swedes away from the people who cannot control themselves, and the foreigners away from human beings who are like statues, devoid of any emotions.

    To my regret, after decades spent here, I am turning into the very same type of people who surround me. At the beginning, I wondered how they could behave in such a way and be so cold, but their coldness seemed to have infected me and my feelings. Many years ago I would cry when I saw people suffering on TV or when I read a book describing the plight of innocent people, but then my tears suddenly dried out, and never returned. The years of my own suffering have turned made me insensitive, insensible, probably as a sort of inner self-defence. I started to avoid people and did not want to enter into discussions with them because it made me only disappointed. It is meaningless to talk about real freedom or manipulation to someone who sits in his own house, buys a new car every few years, eats in a restaurant at least once in a week, and travels on holiday twice a year. I do not need to talk to such people to know their reply, “Mate, if you don’t like it here, move away to another country.”

    In many gardens, I see swings, trampolines and slides, but they are usually empty. unused. For some reason, Swedish children prefer to stay indoors. I do not know if it is because of modern gadgets which take most of their time, or an aversion to physical activity, or laziness, but the fact is that playgrounds remain mostly empty. The consequences of this behaviour can be seen in the street whenever you meet a group of teenagers. Whereas twenty years ago obesity among the youth was almost rare, insignificant, today it has become a prevalent health problem. When I was a child, I drank only water and ate fruit of all sorts, but the boys and girls I see around drink energy drinks like water and eat large amounts of sweets as if they have just run a marathon.

    Many years ago, a Swedish family invited me to their summer cottage close to the little lake. When we arrived there after driving through the woods, far away from asphalt roads and human habitation, I was struck by the beauty of the place. The cottage stood just about twenty meters from the sparkling water. I immediately ran in to the lake and swam a few times to the opposite bank and back, and couldn’t get enough of it. The water was warm, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, birds were singing in the trees, and I had survived the war and had a bright future in front ahead of me. I wished I could stay in that cottage for ever and jump in the water as soon as I wake up, and then swim for hours until I become exhausted.
    The couple had two teenage sons, but instead of enjoying the beautiful lake, they sat indoors, playing video games with their neighbours. At that time, I did not know much about Sweden, and I believed there was something wrong with them, but later I understood that the majority of teenagers are like them. They prefer virtual reality to real life.
    TO BE CONTINUED
    .

  3. VIP Member
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    #3

    Re: Freedom, part four

    teechar,
    Thank you for your great job and your help.
    I have just one question regarding the word "empty." My sentence after your correction: "In many gardens, I see swings, trampolines and slides, but they are usually empty." Then comes another sentence where is again the word "empty" "...but the fact is that playgrounds remain mostly empty." I am wondering if I could use " deserted" or "abandoned" instead, just to have more variation. "...but the fact is that playgrounds remain mostly deserted."

  4. teechar's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Freedom, part four

    Yes, use "deserted" to describe the playgrounds.

  5. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Freedom, part four

    First paragraph. Perhaps:

    There is nothing extraordinary about the houses, built as prefabs or with timber.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Freedom, part four

    When I see the word "latter" I never remember what it refers to. (Am I the only person with this problem?)

  7. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Freedom, part four

    Second paragraph. Say:

    Nobody will insult them verbally, but they will get so many hostile stares that they will sense that they are not welcome here.

  8. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Freedom, part four

    There is a saying: "When in Rome do as the Romans do." In previous years immigrants were expected to assimilate, and while they did not become Americanized as quickly as their children did, they did not try to change their host country to be like the one they left. Many of today's immigrants do not want to assimilate and want to change their host country into something else -- the country they left.

  9. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Freedom, part four

    Third paragraph. Say:

    I imagine knocking at the doors of their expensive homes and asking their inhabitants about the government's generous immigration and refugee policy. I would probably get the same answer everywhere.

  10. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Freedom, part four

    Perhaps:

    They will state plenty of reasons for their refusal....

    Or you could leave "mention" in there.

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