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  • Thomas A. Wilson

How Faroe Will You Go?

The mission was, “to boldly go where no man has gone before,” according to Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Captain Jean Luc Picard uttered similar sentiments in The Next Generation. These two fictional icons of the Star Trek franchise captured something innate to the human condition. We explore. Humankind delights in finding ways to live and thrive on the frozen top of the world, and on the steep cliffs of the Mesa Verde, and in the blistering beauty of Dallol in the Danakil Depression—and all spots in between. We even have our sights set on the Moon and Mars. And despite the seemingly impossible distances, don’t our hearts skip a beat when researchers find an extrasolar planet in the Goldilocks zone? If wolves spray and wombats leave cube-shaped droppings (which is mildly impressive) to mark their territory, homo sapiens are quick to plant a flag on theirs. It’s what we do.


Generations of enterprising Scandinavians have carved out an incredible modern life on a cluster of volcanic islands in the North Atlantic. At a latitude that guarantees 19 hours of daylight in the summer, the Faroe Islands are a hiker’s and birder’s wonderland. Temperatures average above freezing year-round due to the gulf stream; winters are mild, and summers are cool. The small autonomous territory is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, along with Denmark proper and Greenland. With 18 main islands and 779 islets and skerries, the territory covers about 540 square miles, which is about half the size of Rhode Island.


The people of the Faroe Islands possess a culture and language all their own. Relative isolation has helped them retain traditional Nordic values. Their economy relies heavily on fishing and fish farming. The Faroese are a people tied to the sea. Puffins (pelagic seabirds) join seafood and mutton as part of the local cuisine. Thoroughly modern, island residents enjoy almost 100% highspeed internet access. Several of the island’s roadways are connected by sub-sea tunnels. The population is only about 50,000 souls—but the place and people are thoroughly captivating. If the Faroe Islands don’t comprise the actual Kingdom of Arendelle (from Disney’s Frozen), they certainly maintain diplomatic relations with them!


The Faroese have captured the power of unity and cultural cohesion. Whether at one of their 5 major music festivals per year, or while watching two of their ten regional soccer teams, or while observing festivities on St. Olaf’s Day, the Faroese understand that they’re all in it together. Intuitively, they understand that fragmentation leads to dilapidation. As a homeowner, I can testify to that principle—better caulk those seams!


Conversely, if America is currently the land of confusion, (apologies to Phil Collins and Genesis), what if we all took note and tried to sympathize and synthesize with one another? Wait, wait, wait! I’m not suggesting that you compromise your faith, or identity, or your propensity to not eat meat, or your inclination to own guns. I am asking for a little triangular thinking. That is, what’s the third story? Not just your story, and not just my story… but what could our story be?


The end of the USA’s current story might be bleak if we don’t learn to honor the “otherly-ness” of others. Think of it this way. What if one group finally wins the war? First, they win the culture war within their borders. Then, they win the shooting war with the nation next door. After that, they win the ensuing civil war that bubbles up in their new empire. Finally, with the power of pogrom and purge, they arrive at their version of purity.


And all they’re left with is themselves? Wouldn’t that be odious? Wouldn’t it suck if all you had left, at the end of it all… was just you?


Maybe there’s another option. My grandkids learned three rules in Sunday School at Coeur d’Alene’s Heart of the City Church:


1. Honor God, others, and yourself

2. Don’t be a bummer

3. Have fun


Whether you believe in God or not, those are pretty good guidelines. I hope my grandchildren have the boldness to follow them and go where few boomers, and xyz’ers, have gone before. And in turn, that they live long and prosper.


MANerism:

Reframing, in our context, means rethinking—and re-speaking—around a larger idea. It’s a kind of three-dimensional thinking based on oppositions: high-low, light-dark, up-down, etc. Three-dimensional think­ing creates a triangle of inference. For example, if the oppositions are black-white, what’s a third concept that encompasses both, but with deeper meaning? In this example, color is the larger concept. How about fiscal conservative-fiscal liberal? Stewardship covers, and goes beyond, both. My story-your story? The third story takes both perspectives into account while revealing a new narrative.


Affirmation of the Week: Every day, I purposefully take the time to pause in pursuit of the third story.

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