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Sweden wonders if you have your crisis box ready, Source: MSB/ Thomas Henrikson

Sweden takes no chances with National Emergency Preparedness Week

Sweden takes no chances with National Emergency Preparedness Week

This year its theme is tied to the country celebrating 100 years of democracy

In 1921, Sweden granted universal and equal suffrage to all its citizens, opening up the way to women to enter the political life of the country. Indeed, at the first elections after the fact, 5 female MPs, from all across the political spectrum entered the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament).

This year, between 27 September and 3 October, Sweden is also having its National Emergency Preparedness Week - an annual information campaign that aims to increase people's resilience to societal crises and extreme wars.

The two events might seem like they inhabit different dimensions of knowledge and awareness, yet organizers have found a way to connect them by making the first one be this year’s theme for the second one.

Keeping an apocalyptic possibility at the back of one’s mind

Sweden is one of the most peaceful countries in the world. It has stayed neutral and non-aligned, refusing to join NATO, for example. Yet, its government is far from ignoring the possibility of things going awry quickly in the world.

That’s why, there is a special Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) in existence, tasked with organizing the annual event and carefully reminding Swedes of the ever-impending possibility of doom and gloom and how to best prepare for it.

For example, they advise that one way to increase one’s own preparedness and take responsibility is to prepare a crisis box where you collect things that you may need suddenly in the event of an unexpected disturbance in society. In order to cope with a crisis situation as well as possible, it is important to be able to meet the need for heat, water, food and communication. Then society's resources can focus on those who need help the most.

During the pandemic, we have been trained to deal with unexpected events and changes in society. The agency then asks the question: ‘Maybe you have come up with something more you need in your crisis box?’ Your preparedness is valuable the very day something happens.

What does survivalism have to do with democracy?

Even in extreme conditions such as crisis and war, it is important to maintain an open and democratic society. We can protect and defend democracy in many different ways, and not by just going to vote. Being source-critical and well-read is one way, taking responsibility for one's own crisis preparedness is another. 

If you get a crisis box and get to know your neighbour, so that you can be helped in a crisis, then you are also involved and contribute to Sweden's crisis preparedness. One of the greatest assets during a crisis is our willingness to help each other. During the pandemic, we have seen several good examples of how people stand up for each other, for example by shopping for an older neighbour,” explained security strategist Fredrik Rask.

And there you have it, democracy Swedish-style means not only exhibiting pluralism but also being prepared for all kinds of eventualities and ready to show solidarity when needed.

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