Why I am not proud to be Danish

While travelling in Peru a friend of mine asked: “Are you not proud of being Danish?” – It was pretty obvious that he was proud of his own nationality. Looking all over the internet I see people claiming how proud they are of their nationality, but when my friend asked me it wasn’t a hard question to answer: “No, I am not proud of being Danish” and here is why.

I can be proud about a lot of things, but mostly things I have accomplished or things my friends and family have accomplished. Those things make me really proud of myself or on their behaves, but I can’t be proud of being Danish. Being Danish is not something I have accomplished, I haven’t done anything that build up the Danish society or changed it in any way. It is simply a country and a society I was born into. It could have been any country, but I ended up in Denmark and I am not proud of that, I am simply grateful for it.

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The spoiled Danes
I come from a country where I don’t have to worry about getting food on the table, because if I ever lose a job I will get money from the government so I will be able to survive. At the moment I am taking my university degree for free. Yes, you heard me right, free. It is not that I have grades so high that I received a scholarship, an education is free for all in Denmark and we even get money from the government to live for while we study. We receive about £500 a month to live for. Sure, the living expensive are high here in Denmark, but at least there is enough to pay the rent, the bills and food. Sure, if education wasn’t free then I would probably have done more to save up money for an education or tried to get a scholarship, but I have met people from all over the world whose biggest dream was to get an education well known that it might never happen. Your chances of getting an education when you come from a small village in Indonesia that you might never have left are very slim. So I just appreciate that I have this opportunity to get an education within a subject I love and that I wouldn’t have any debt afterwards unless I choose to loan money.

No serious concerns 
I am happy to come from a country where I would never have to worry about the bill if I needed to go to the doctor or get seriously ill for a long time (I sure hope that will never happen). Health care in Denmark is free as well. I wouldn’t have to worry about the costs if I, a friend or a family member needed an operation or long term medication. It would be devastating if anyone I knew would get worse, just because their insurance did cover or they could afford the medical bill. We have free speech, free education, free health care, we don’t have to pay to drive the streets, we can get a lot of financial support from the government and so much more!

I am happy I live in a country where I as a woman am able to vote. It is actually 100 years ago that women in Denmark were able to vote for the first time and I hope that a 100 years from now (or preferably sooner) all women all over the world are able to vote.

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I am greatful
Sure, Denmark is a great country to live in. We are so spoiled that we don’t have to worry much about the basic needs like getting food on the table, money for medical care, having clothes and so on. Seriously, the thing Danes complain about the most these days are free animal card you get when buying groceries! 
I guess this luxury is the reason the people of Denmark are ranked one of the happiest nations in the world. So why am I not proud of being Danish? You might ask. Well, it is actually pretty simple. I am not proud of being Danish for one simple reason: I didn’t do anything to become a Dane. I didn’t work hard or anything to become a Dane that I was simply born into it. And it doesn’t help at all when people complain about immaterial things like free animal cards! It just makes me felt my toes curl with embarrassment. Seriously, there are people starving all over the world and people dying in Nepal from earthquakes and sometimes the Danes just need a perspective on their so called problems. Okay, that was not what this post was supposed to be about, back to the content I was supposed to write about. I consider myself lucky to be born a Dane. I mean, I could have been born in Burundi or Sudan or another similar country. Not that there is nothing wrong with Burundi or Sudan, but I am pretty sure my opportunities would be more scarce if I was from a country like those and that is why I am grateful for being Danish.

How about you? Are you proud or grateful for your nationality?  

Tine

View posts by Tine
Siden jeg var barn har jeg drømt om at tage ud og rejse. I år 2011 tog jeg for første gang afsted på en længere rejse. Det endte med at blive seks måneders solorejse og siden har jeg blot forsat med at rejse. Jeg elsker kultur, at se steder som jeg ikke har set før og mødet med de lokale. Jeg rejser sjældent med en guidebog eller kort, da jeg er ret god til at finde vej og elsker at gå på opdagelse. Til gengæld er også jeg utrolig god til at miste mine ting og burde snart indberegne erstatning for mistede ting i mine budgetter.... Tak fordi du læser med!

22 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting read. I had never thought of it from this perspective and it makes a lot of sense. As an American, I find myself jealous of the Danish model, and wish we could find our way to the same. So many of my country people arrogantly claim to be proud of the U.S. and how great we are. And, yet when you look at statistics, the claim isn’t supported. But, I am drifting too.

    My heritage is Danish, as is my shield maiden’s, and we are overly proud of our Vikingness. 😉 My shield maiden traces herself back to Faaborg on Fynn. But, alas, I am adrift in the Valhalla ether knowing not where my ancestors originated other than to say somewhere near Ballum. Oh… There I go getting carried away againg

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    1. It is funny that you mention it, because it was actually an American friend who asked me, because he was so proud of being American 🙂 Thank you so much Arnie! I really appreciated it and I am glad you liked it, perhaps it will make others think about if they are really proud or “just” consider themselves lucky. I took me a really long time to write this post and I really tried to put my heart in it! Sure, Danes are really privileged 🙂 Cool! I am actually also 1/8 British, but that is another story 😉

  2. Hey Tine,
    Interesting…considering nationalism and patriotism, separates and segragates us as people. It is about creating an identity…a common identity. I feel very much like you do, I am in no way proud of being Australian, the way that our government treat the indigenous people of this land is appalling, along with our ill treatment of refugees, etc etc. I was born into this land and I love it… But unfortunately as life and basic services become more and more liberalized and privatized here, I am concerned that my children will not have access to education and health care – it is touted as being free here but it’s not really ‘free’.
    I recently wrote a paper on the violence of nationalism, and how states create and perpetuate order through national identities. It is an extremely interesting topic, one which probably needs more attention. As the structures of power can choose to assist and support the people, as happens in Denmark or the people may be repressed and forced to live in poverty…as happens in many places around the world.

    I could go on…but I won’t.
    Keep up the good thought provoking work Tine! 😊

    1. Thanks Dianna!
      Denmark is not perfect either. We haven’t always treated Greenland nice and we might not be the nicest people towards immigrants. I hope the Danes will be better in the future. I don’t think my (future) children will be as privileged as I am. I hope education will still be free, I am not sure they will get money while studying, but I hope they will be able to study and go to the hospital. Free education and health care is an important matter to most Danes, so I hope it will remain free

      That makes two of us!
      I will if you will continue reading and commenting 😉

    2. Some thought provoking comments. I was just watching a short video on Bastille Day, and the commentator was saying, among other things, that the French do not believe in flying a lot of their flags as it has become perceived as a right wing nationalist symbol. That is the way that I feel about things here in the US too. The Stars and Stripes flying everywhere so people can show their “patriotism”. It is nothing more than ill concealed nationalism.

      1. Sure, I have found patriotism very similar to nationalism. Not that there is anything wrong with nationalism as long as it doesn’t prevent others from entering the country or having other opinions about a country 🙂 I have had a rather unpleasant message about this post. That it was just a political correct piece and that I should just pull myself together and take pride in my country. I don’t see why it is wrong not to take pride in a country and simply be grateful instead

    1. Yeah, we are pretty privileged compared to a lot of nations! But Americans are also privileged compared to other nations and we should both be happy about our opportunities because we could be in worse places 🙂

  3. Depends in which country you are when the question pops. If I am in Europe, saying I am Romanian, I will be judged as a second class human being due to many biases established within continent. If I am asked in Asia, by a local, I am immediately getting a smile and the fact that I am coming from Europe gives people the belief that I belong to kind of upper class society. Its all about the believe system of the person evaluating my answer.

    1. It shouldn’t have an influence. Sure, there are some countries that have more opportunities and Denmark is probably one of the best countries to be born in when it comes to having opportunities, but if you are happy about being Romanian it shouldn’t change no matter where you are. Sure, I am lucky and very privileged to be Danish, but as a Romanian you still have more opportunities than a poor African woman or a poor Asian. There will always be places that have more or better opportunities, but that doesn’t make your nationality bad. I am not grateful because people look at me like I come from an upper class society. I don’t care about what people think of my country and neither should you. We should all be grateful for the opportunities that we have (if we have some) and stop measuring ourselves in other nationalities.

      Yes, you might not be as privileged as a Dane, but you still have the opportunity to travel and to many that is a lot. Who cares what a “upper class” think of your country? Be happy about the opportunities you have and perhaps you should just try to tell them about Romania and they might change their minds 🙂 I have worked with a lot of nationalities including Romanian and I couldn’t really tell why they should be any less worth than me…if people question your worth just show them that they are wrong or just walk away 🙂 But thanks for sharing your thoughts, it is always good to hear opinions from others 🙂

  4. That’s such a nice post to read!
    I am half French, half Martinican and growing up with a country to be proud of is something I have never felt.
    In France, I could only hear where are From? Well, I was born in Paris. And in Martinique, you’re from France, so you don’t not really get our point.

    Being proud of a country as always been strange to me. But I can be proud of a lot of other things, and I would like to see people proud of being humans.

    I live in Poland where the social system is mostly non-existent and it’s a good thing people are trying to change that. However, I hope it won’t lead to a situation a France, where some are taking advantage of and the government somehow does not put an end when and where it should.
    I say that, but I do certainly feel lucky to come from a country where I didn’t have to worry that much, and I could take my own decisions, follow my own path.

    Anyway, it’s an awesome post you have. And it’s worth reflect about.

    Have a good day.

    1. Thank you Marie!
      It is good to hear that I am not the only one with the same thoughts.
      We should be grateful for the opportunities we have. Sure, that might be harder for someone from Poland, if they don’t have a social system to help them. I hope that will change soon 🙂 Some also takes advantage of it here, but I don’t think there will ever be a perfect system where no one can take advantage of it. Thanks! 🙂 You too

  5. This is an insightful read. Sometimes you have to reflect on a bigger point of view to realize stuff. Anyway, third-world peeps like me dream of a society that works the same way as Denmark. A safe and sufficient place that makes people happy. More power on you blogging 🙂

    1. Sure, I am lucky to be Danish, but I am sure that there are great parts of being Filipino 🙂 We just have to be happy about the things we have and try to work harder for the things we want to change 🙂 Some of the happiest people I have met were actually from Asia 🙂

  6. This is very well written. Johnny often tells me the same thing that he’s not proud to be Australian, just grateful because it’s not something he achieved. He says it’s just luck isn’t it? It’s really cool to see another person with the same perspective and I really admire you for it because very often people seem to assume being of a certain nationality or race makes them better than others when in fact they had no say in it.

    1. I am glad I am not the only one! You are absolutely right and you caught my point spot on! Tell Johnny that I think he is right too 😉

  7. I know how you feel! I’m not proud to be an Australian and we have a very similar system to you guys! I find that the luckier you are as a country, the more people take it for granted. At least the Danes are quiet, respectful travellers. Which is more than I can say for the Australians 😉

    1. They do! I have also had people reacting a whole other way to this post – They thought I was being ridiculous and that I should just be proud, but I think they misunderstood the message. I would much rather be grateful than proud 🙂 Thank, I am glad you think that. There are also Danes who are disrespectful and loud when they travel. I have actually met a lot of quiet and respectful Australians travellers, so you are not alone! 😉

    1. Thank you Vinh 😊 I am glad you like Danes 😊 Where are you from? Vietnam? The Vietnamese I have met were really nice too 😊

  8. It’s strange, I grew up not at all patriotic … Until I moved to England, where being Welsh made me SLIGHTLY exotic, so I full-on-embraced it! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this. I was in Denmark over the summer… you have a wonderful country!

    1. Haha, nice! You should fully embrace it 😊 thanks for commenting! Thanks, air am glad you enjoyed it 😊

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