Photo by Jonathan Brinkhorst on Unsplash

Hey, dude still living in Sweden here.

My adopted homeland has (yet again) attracted a lot of heat over the past few weeks as the world has grappled with how to deal with the Covid19/Corona pandemic.

Sweden has taken a radically different approach in the eyes of many to that taken by most governments around the world. From this side of the border, however, the measures fall much more in line with what I expect from the cautiously liberal authorities in this strange part of Scandinavia.

From this perspective, it looks, yet again, like Sweden is drawing the attention of…


Or why we need to speak up every day

Flowers outside of the Courthouse in Oslo at the start of the trial against Breivik — Photo on my 2011 iPhone

I used to be pretty outspoken after attacks like the one in Hanau. I haven’t been this time. Having lived through a similar, yet very different far-right extremist attack in Norway in 2011 I’ve always felt the need to speak up against the ideology of hatred, the fear of diversity that fuels these attacks.

This time I’ve been silent.

My silence is in no way out of lack of sympathy with those individuals, families and communities that are going through the darkest days of their lives right now.

My silence on this attack is not one of acceptance of this…


Cognition and recent trends in political communication

We live in a time of unprecedented interconnectedness, access to information and space for expression. Still political discourse is ever more polarised. The trend towards a more polarised political behaviour became explicitly evident during the 2016 presidential election campaign of Donald Trump. This study attempts to explore the relationship between specific linguistic markers, cognitive processes and political behaviour in order to understand how the rhetorical style of President Trump has attracted support across a wide spectrum of the American population with a seemingly weak cohesive political vision.

In order to understand how we got to this particular point in political…


This might be healthy

My blood is rushing, endorphins building up. I’m working up a sweat as i swing the axe back to strike another piece of wood. With explosive force it smashes into the wood. It cracks, and splinters fly in every direction. The cold autumn sun is shining, but I am warm, and will stay warm as winter slowly arrives at my door. Am I deriving the same state of joy from this others get from jogging, or exercising for the sake of exercise?


Or why I seek out the messy now that algorithms mostly get it right

Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

I’m of a lucky generation. I largely grew up with the internet, yet I remember a time before it; turning the pages in my family’s lexicon, fascinated by the pages, the countless articles, on other topics than the one I was looking for. I could loose myself for hours, reading up on obscure topics I didn’t know that I wanted to know — and I miss it.

I grew up with radio-stations where DJ’s and guests picked songs, where the playlists weren’t generated based on my listening history, where I would be challenged, and surprised, where I would explore and…


Or why I still have faith in the United Nations

The Opening of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly

As the 74th session is about to open I’m on my way back to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Of particular significance to the summit this year is the global threats to the environment, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Over the past decades the UN has, in the eyes of many, lost it’s relevance. Perhaps this is symptoms of the bureacracy that so often gets the blame, underfunding, lack of global accountability for abusive behaviour, human rights abusers in positions of power, diverging national interests and confusing acronyms that most resemble alphabet soup.

Maybe it’s symptomatic of the…


The year that was, and the year to come

In 2018 I worked on four continents. I dined with royalty. I contributed with recommendations and advice and helped develop policy at the highest levels from local and national governments to the EU, ASEAN and the UN. I contributed to reports and publications — consulting for some of the leading think tanks and organisations in the field of peacebuilding, human rights, countering extremism and international relations. I contributed to the founding of networks and organisations working for freedom and rights. I met some of the greatest, most inspiring human rights defenders in the world, and I am honoured to call…


Or How to Stay Optimistic in Grim Times

King Théoden (ready to fight for his kingdom after Gandalf helped him out of a deep depression)

The Lord of the Rings has played a significant role in my life. The trilogy was among the first books not written for kids I ever read, making me fall in love with literature, worldbuilding, history and language. I grew up as the Peter Jackson movies were coming out, and my mum wanted me to read the books before she’d take me to the cinema to see the films.

Literature forms us whether it’s in the form of books, graphic novels, films, TV-series, blog posts or the news. It creates our frame of reference, the lens through which we view…


Is Theresa May compromised by compromise?

Manchester Brexit protest for the Conservative Party conference on October 1, 2017 - Ilovetheeu [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

This has been a strange week in politics. We certainly live in times of transformation. The French government is struggling in the face of dramatic protest. Michael Cohen, President Trumph’s former Lawyer, was just sentenced to three years for hush money and lying to Congress. There are whispers of a new financial crisis around the corner. And the ever stranger proceedings surrounding Brexit hit a new low-point; first with the postponement of the parliamentary vote, then it all spiralled further out of control with 48 letters of no confidence in the Prime Minister submitted to the 1922 committee of conservative…


The Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin. by Diliff [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Today’s been a strange day to be a European. And yes, for the Brits who are confused about this these days; despite not being a citizen of the EU I am European. The vote on Brexit has been postponed and President Macron has, after weeks of protests from the so-called Yellow Vest Movement, been attempting to speak to his people who see him, perhaps rightfully, as ever more distant from them.

Bjørn Ihler

Opinion Artist and Ninja Activist. Fighting polarization at scale.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store