• Valentina Poletti

The Shadow of Switzerland

I have lived in Ticino, the Southern part of Switzerland, for about 6 years. As I have ascertained over the last 30+ years of my life living in different countries and cultures, every culture has their preferred light sides and shadow sides. One only needs to live in a particular country for a while to start to see those collective unconscious belief systems, habits and addictions that define that particular society. In the U.S. for instance, junk food addiction is quite an obvious shadow. The shadowy need for control of Germany and Japan has become very apparent during WWII, and the misogyny of Italy is taking now down the country.

Anyways, in spite of living in many cultures, never has it been so difficult for me to see the shadows of a culture as for Switzerland. I could feel them, but not see them. And the problem is that in order to see the shadows of a culture, or of another person, one must be conscious of those shadows within themselves. And I wasn't, which is why it took me so long.

The primary shadow of Switzerland is fear, the secondary one is shame. I'll go through each one of them in order.

Fear is the opposite vibration of love: while love is the vibration of unity and one-ness, fear is the vibration of separation. Love is what connects us to source, fear separates us. Love is taking as part of yourself, fear is seeing as separate from yourself. As a result, the natural consequence of fear is isolation, and cultures that are driven by fear are often very individualistic oriented.

To suppress their fear, people often build barriers around them. They build thick walls of 'protection' from what they see as 'other', or different or outside of themselves. Their ego tends to act in fight or flight response mode, and so they tend to be particularly defensive or aggressive. The natural modality of people who are in fear is anger.

In order to suppress fear people tend to attach themselves to things that give them a false sense of safety, they tend to attach to what is familiar, and known - what they associate as themselves. As a result, cultures that are fear based tend to have unnaturally strong attachments to their traditions and custums, and are often very nationalistic. Individuals that are fear-based, tend to stay attached to their family of origin and the place they grew up in.

Now on the practical look. Switzerland invests a huge amount of energy and time in its army, which is mandatory for every male citizen in the country. It is probably one of the few countries in the world where each building has its own safety bunker, as protection from war attacks. A lot of Swiss political campaigns are racist and attack foreigners - particularly neighboring countries - with arguments that often go into the ridicule level. Switzerland is the only country in central Europe that decided to stay separate from the E.U. Individual Swiss people tend to act aggressively and with prejudices towards foreigners. They have a hard time creating bonds outside of their family of origin and place of growth. And they are extremely attached to very old - often senseless and outdated - traditions. One such example is the carnival festival, in which people tend to spend a large time getting drunk and violent. The primary food industry in Switzerland is meat and dairy based, i.e. violence based. The Swiss are very materialistic and individualistic. They tend to surround themselves with material possessions, but keep very separate from other people. Ticino has a very high suicide rate, which is a natural consequence of deep isolation.

To understand the origin of the fear based mentality of the Swiss, one can take a look at its history. Before its economic expansion, Switzerland was primarily conposed of villages inhabiting the beautiful, yet very hostile and perilous Alps. Nationally, the Switzerland is a small country surrounded by international powers going through various wars. It is therefore not suprsing that fear has become an innate part of Swiss culture.

Shame is the internalized belief that there is something inherently wrong and unacceptable in us. People with shame often overcompensate this belief system by over-achieving, and investing a great deal i their appearance in order to seem acceptable and good to the outside. Perfectionism is a natural consequence of shame based people.

The Swiss invest a large amoutn of time and energy in cleaning and maintaining a perfect appearance of their cities and towns. Swiss workers tend to be perfectionissts, and deliver products that are world-class standards. Swiss advertizes itself as a beautiful, charming country with top quality food, scenery and stores. Meanwhile it is nearly impossible to understand and peak at what goes beyond the courtains of this perfectionism, in the every day personal life of the Swiss, unless we get to know them very closely. For instance, very little is talked about the high suicide rate in Ticino.

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