When you do everything possible to undermine diversity you end up letting out the genie out of the bottle.
If we look at the political climate in Finland today with the rise of an anti-EU, anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) in 2011, it’s clear that the genie that came out of the bottle is out for blood.
Despite the hostility of some Finns and Europeans to our ever-growing culturally and ethnically diverse societies, the million-euro question is how to we challenge those very values that are stoking and fanning hatred?
Is the answer in educating present and future generations on how culturally and ethnically diverse we Europeans have always been?
Finland is a culturally and ethnically diverse society. For one, over 1.2 million Finns emigrated from this land between 1860 and 1999. Moreover, we all came from somewhere else. Some of us have been longer and others a shorter time in Finland.
We are all, however, Finns of different backgrounds and orientations. Most importantly we live in a society that permits us to determine our identity and lifestyles.
The interesting question to ask is why some Finns, or why our official history, still speaks of Finns in terms of one group if there are many?
We all came from somewhere else. Why did it take me so many decades to uncover the Jewish side of my family? Why did many of my relatives rarely bring this up? Why was it swept under the carpet for so many decades?
All Finns, like all Europeans, have a fascinating history to tell but which has been intimidated by intolerance, nationalism, war and a deep suspicion for cultural and ethnic diversity that still exists today.
As we race deeper into the new century, we should take bolder steps to teach present and future generations about the our cultural and ethnic diversity and, most importantly, that we should respect such an order of things.