I recall making a wager with a roommate (the legendary, roommate hall of fame CW) in college that there was no sort of civilization currently happening in Greenland. For some reason I imagined it to be an uninhabitable frozen wasteland, abandoned long ago and left to the polar bears and ice wolves or whatnot. How we arrived at this specific wager I cannot recall, other than to say you discuss a great many things when you’re in college (drinking Miller Hi-Life).
Of course I could not have been more wrong. There are indeed people living in Greenland. Not only are there people (more than 56,000 at last count), there are schools, hospitals, at least one soccer field and even a university!
That people can survive in such ridiculous conditions as Greenland is nothing less than a triumph of the human spirit that should be celebrated, and more importantly; co-opted, extracted and somehow used for our personal gain.
How do they do it? What are their secrets?
The people of Greenland display the sort of toughness, ingenuity and willingness to endure awful things that we Americans used to have in spades, but now have sadly lost. As our national identity continues to erode and grow more flabby, we need to start considering some out-of-the-box approaches to getting our society back on track. Here are a few Foreign Policy ideas we could float to try and get some of that hardy Greenlandic character we so desperately lack.
- Massive Exchange of Students – We should send as many students as possible to study and live in Greenland. There they will be forced to buck up and become grown-ups with real skills. We should also receive students from Greenland, who will reveal their ways to us and provide access to their desirable gene pool. “Ever seen a thermometer explode? Study abroad in Greenland!” Boom. There’s your ad campaign.
- Increased Bartering – As the world’s largest island, Greenland has crazy amounts of space which is probably filled with all kinds of stuff we can use. We need to send in some scientists to see what that stuff would be, then trade them for whatever it is. Nuuk to New York is only 1849.57 miles. That’s nothing you could paddleboat that.
- Skills Training – Clearly the people of Greenland have skills to survive – skills we sorely lack. We need to send a lot of our people there to learn these skills. We can also receive Greenlanders if they want to learn about things like Public Relations, Hedge Funds, think tanks or how to post videos online.
These are the kinds of big ideas we’re looking for in the upcoming 2012 elections. What candidate will present the sort of bold initiatives we need to get this country back on track?