Finland Bridge: Chrismtas and Winter in 2035

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

What kind of Christmases will we be celebrating in the mid-2030s? Like past generations, will we set aside our worries, demographic and environmental problems and allow the Christmas spirit to overtake us for a moment?   

Twenty years from now I will form part of the ever-growing army of pensioners in this country and the developed world.  Where will I retire? Will I move to southern Spain, which is starting to look like the Sahara Desert? Will I stay in Finland, where global warming is changing weather patterns for good?

One of the questions I’d like to know about the future is if we’ll become wiser. Or will our actions and reason for being twenty years on be guided by the same vices: greed, indifference, wars and the usual excuses for doing nothing.

During ”normal” demographic times, when pensioners made up a small part of the total population in the twentieth century,  most over-64-year-olds played a passive role in society. Turning into a revolutionary or social activist was a no-no.

Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology created quite a commotion when it was published in 1915. The 200 free-verse epitaphs of his book spoke openly about sensitive issues like sex, moral decay and hypocrisy.

One of the poems he called ”Unknown” reveals perfectly the paradox between youth and old age. Masters writes:

In youth my wings were strong and tireless 

But I did not know the mountains. 

In age I knew the mountains 

But my weary wings could not follow my vision

–Genius is wisdom and youth.

Does this remarkable poem tell us why humankind is still incapable of breaking the vicious cycle of greed, war, and apathy?

Is there hope that such a circle could be redrawn in the future? Could new medical breakthroughs in gerontology help resolve the problem?  Could new medicines help us at age 80 to ”fly over mountains” with enough strength and wisdom?

If we resolved such a paradox, how to balance our youth with our old age, humankind would be capable of many things. It could help us for instance not to commit the same mistakes of past generations that have kept us buried in our human squalor.

”Granny-phobes?”

Staying on the topic of pensioners, Helsingin Sanomat columnist Riva Liisa Snellman took a peek at 2035 as well. By then, one in three Finns will be over 65 years old, with nearly a million people who are over 75.

Will such a large number of pensioners cause an adverse reaction in our society? Semi Purhonen, a generation researcher, told Snellman that she doesn’t believe so since family ties play a crucial role in our society. No generation will ever declare war on its grandparents, according to her.

The Helsingin Sanomat columnist offers some light-hearted views of the future. She believes that we’ll all carry chip locators to alert relatives if we forget where we are supposed to go at a certain time. Loss of memory will not be an impairment since we’ll be assisted by ”memory assistants.” They will help us with all our memory problems.

We’ll all wear bracelets in the future and they will form a standard part of our attire. ”The bracelet can distinguish sleep from a sudden illness, and it also enables the wearer to ask for help,” writes Snellman.

We’ll have so-called loneliness centers for the elderly located in countries like Germany and the United States.

Christmas 2035

Christmas Eve falls on a Monday in 2035, which means we’ll be enjoying an extra long weekend then.

I hope on that day I’ll see many grandchildren spending Christmas with us around a large table peppered with friendly chit-chat, giggles andlaughs iced with the cake of anticipation.

Since children of the future will learn how to ask serious questions, my grandchildren will ask me about how life was like when I was young. I will tell them that in the last century we had snow, which will be a rare commodity due to global warming.

I will tell them as well about the financial hiccups that Europe suffered due to countries like Greece.

”Can you imagine that a long time ago, well not that long ago,” I’d tell them as they’d hold their breathes, ”we had groups that hated other people like us because we were different from them.”

”But we won the battle,” I’d continue. ”Thanks to our war against ignorance, all types of Multicultural Finns can live today in peace in this country and be at the same time proud of their ethnic backgrounds.”

A Multicultural Finn is any person who considers himself a Finn but comes from a multicultural background. ”You are all good examples,” I’d say. ”Your great grandparents and your relatives before them were from many countries and knew the ways of many cultures. I have lived in many places during my lifetime.”

They’d ask about wars and how they ended for good on Earth.

I’d return to Master’s poem about the mountains, but recite it to them differently:

When our countries were young they waged war, turned their backs on the suffering of the world

They did not know the mountains of humanity. 

After we nearly destroyed our environment and almost killed each other off we finally learned to know those mountains 

But our planet and humanity were in too bad shape to fly over those mountains

–Genius is living in a world without greed and wars.

How did wars end? How did we learn to live in peace with each other? another one asked.

People got so fed up with their governments and armies that one day a huge war was declared war but nobody showed up.

The column was published in Finland Bridge issue 6/2011

 

  1. Mary Mekko

    I picture a Christmas in Finland in 2035 as one here in the San Francisco Bay Area: completely consumeristic, full of good cheer and food and American Christmas songs, such as those by Irving Berlin. People will eat, drink, smile, laugh, dress up, visit each other, exchange presents and have a jolly good time, not to mention time off work, plus they’ll have big trees with ornaments and lights, remotely controlled to flash to music. The children will get up early and believe in Santa Claus and reindeer pulling sleds. Parents will be exhausted and wallets wiped out. People will gain weight and resolve to lose it the next year. Stores will be mobbed for a month before, and then mobbed again afterwards with deeper discounts and refunds and exchanges. Cards will be sent, some even still written by hand, showing snow scenes which local Californians might never have seen in real life, but none of these cards will mention Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

    Old Christmas carols of religious tone – those old divisive, intolerant, religious songs, all such hymns and prayers and holy pictures, will not be outlawed, simply slowly discarded and forgotten as relics of old, mean, racial days of yore, when Europeans wanted to celebrate their unfairly-dominant religion, Christianity. People will still visit churches as they visit museums today, perhaps once a year, to see how the “Old Days” looked, when people were silly enough to believe in invisible gods and create horrible feelings of nationalism and racial identity. Churches won’t be torn down, as in Communist Russia, simply let go to ruins, as the Spaniards did in California after secularization. Through neglect and lack of money, they’ll fall apart or be converted to Institutes of Art, as in San Francisco, our old St. Brigid’s Catholic Church is now the Academy of Art Institute’s latest acquisition. Schoolkids will be shepherded through, forced to write reports on them, as in aquariums they learn about fish.

    And So Finland 2035 will be a secular, nonnationalistic, all-inclusive, tolerant, gift-giving place. Santa Claus’ village will thrive. Rovaniemi will get rich from reindeer-related businesses. Due to global warming, Lapland will be warm all summer and fall, Ruska will come in December, and snow will be scarce if at all present. Mushrooms will be harder to find, and much of the forests will be gone due to the millions of new immigrants who needed Lebensraum, food, water, housing, roads, and paper products. Freeways will zip up and down Finland with fast German hovercars, while Finnish police hovercars will be dark blue.s

    Russians and Finns will unite in secular and Nordic unity, all will learn English and communicate happily with complete tolerance towards each others’ cultures. Their nasty historical differences will be forgotten, because people will not be taught it, and references to it wiped out systematically from all modern electronic media. They’ll have sausage battles to commemorate sadder times, then eat the sausages and drink vodka, collapsing blotto.

    Darker groups, who will dominate in Finland and Russia, will not be called “minorities”. They will be fully integrated, well-educated, bi- and tri-lingual, well-traveled and very open-minded. Their men will be kind, thoughtful, quiet, withdrawn, eyes on their own shoes, and share homes with other husbands in the new polyandry, a system engendered through the welfare state that rewards fathers for staying home with children. The woman who names her baby’s birth father will be able to never work again, nor that putative father, as the Finnish workers happily support the load of a new class of breeding polyandrist women.

    Indian-blooded Finns will dominate in the computer world and start many small businesses such as drycleaners and restaurants.

    Chinese-blooded Finns will open buffet restaurants and grocery stores. Finns will have a huge variety of imported delicious foods, with many cheap restaurants to choose from.

    Finns will have no religion and will marry freely, color-blind, creating “Obamababies”, as mixed race kids of the future will affectionately be called. These children will dominate in Finnish politics and entertainment.

    African-Finns will create a new type of music called “KanteKakaphoni”, which takes the world by storm, a blend of traditional Finnish kantele music and African drumming, with some polka and tango accordion sounds to give a unique new vibration across the world Musicnet. African-Finns will also take over the sports world and win gold medals, start world-class basketball and football teams.

    All of this wonderful new Finnworld will be celebrated every Christmas, the Day of Open Doors, as a reminder of what old Finland, pre-1980’s, had been, a place of closed doors.

    And don’t forget, solar energy will be so cheap and powerful, Finns will be warm, cheap!

  2. Seppo

    Sounds good, Mary Mekko, I hope you are right. With the exception of the Americanization of the Christmas, I think it has gone too far already, as has the general Americanization and Anglification of the Finnish (and other Nordic) culture and society.

    I’m sure there will be a way to celebrate Christmas that is non-religious and tolerant but still Finnish.

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