If we look very generally at the previous century, Finns worked hard at building a sense of national unity: surnames were Finnicized and personal histories about our “foreign” background were erased for the common national good.
Our Finnish identity got a further boost in the Winter War (1939-40), when the Soviet Union invaded our country. Through war, unfortunately, we were able to strengthen our identity as a nation.
Our short history as an independent nation and how we forged our national identity still dictates how some of us see the outside world: as a threat or an opportunity?
But we live today in a new century and totally different reality when compared with before. Our world is globalized and Finland needs skilled immigrants to plug the ever-growing labor shortage.
I personally believe that the biggest and most exciting challenges facing Finland today is building a new sense of national identity for this century. That new identity will be vastly different from the previous one because it will be much more inclusive to people who want to form part of this great family we call Finland.
If in the previous century we were supposed to hide our foreign roots because we wanted to stress our Finnishness, in this century it will not only be acceptable but encouraged to show our diversity.
We are from different backgrounds but we are Finns.