Our gratitude and joy at being able to take this trip, buoyed by the love and support of friends and family is genuine—but I would be very remiss if I didn’t share the dark clouds which surround us as well: political instability, the death of the Baltic Sea, the reminders of World War II’s destruction and inhumanity.
We are now steering closer to St. Petersburg, Russia, soon to be in Helsinki, Finland and Talinn, Estonia. Our US government gave bipartisan support to the inclusion of Finland and Sweden in NATO, and the process of their inclusion in NATO is well underway. This fact has been mentioned here regularly by Swedish tour guides and lecturer: Sweden has prided itself on its neutrality since Napoleonic times. Neutrality is part of their ethos. With NATO membership, both Finland and Sweden have declared themselves on a “side” against that of their neighbor, Russia, and the world has lost the “buffer zone” they provided. Estonia, already a member of NATO has asked for 20,000 NATO troops in each of the Baltic states as hopeful deterrents against Russian invasion. The drumbeat of war is very loud in this region.
The Baltic Sea has been dying for decades, as algae blooms de-oxygenate the waters, leaving too little oxygen for animals. One of our cruise lecturers, an Oceanologist from San Diego shared a map of Baltic Dead Zones—which encompass most of the Baltic Sea. He discussed the failure of the countries surrounding the Baltic to achieve any progress in reducing the nitrogen/phosphorus runoff which causes these blooms. Later that day, I recognized a large yellow algae bloom on the ocean as we traversed it. Sensitized by the Danish Design Museum’s strident message of environmental toxicity, I realize that the extent of this loss is a world tragedy which humans could have prevented or remediated. Now it may be too late.
I remember with fondness Holger Neissen’s story of the Danish resistance in WWII, and the stories we read about in Oslo at the Norwegian Resistance Museum in Akershus Castle. Amazing stories of bravery during occupation. We heard about German submarines in the Orkney’s, friendly British occupation of the Faroes, saw cannon in Norway and now to Finland which was forced into war by Stalin. Their wounds are still fresh. Healing from WWII’s inhumanity of war is still underway here.
One thought on “Dark Clouds”
The clouds are dark here at home too . This country is going to hell in a hand basket since you left