This struggle to banish our hatred of others is a long journey that will take generations to complete. In it hides as well the seed of racism. What are we waiting for?
By Enrique Tessieri
I have never understood why some Finns are capable of expressing so much hatred for religious groups like Muslims, Somalis, blacks, and especially the Romany minority and Russians. Even if the Continuation War (1941-44) ended 67 years ago, some of us still sound as if we were in those trenches waiting for the enemy to attack.
What good can come out of being in such trenches and glorifying a questionable war that took place a long time ago? Very little, I suspect, especially if those historical events hinder today our ability to make amends with our former enemies and poison our views of our ever-culturally diverse society.
My grandfather fought in the Civil War of 1918, Winter War (1839-40) and Continuation War. I have a lot of respect for him as well as all those who were put in harm’s way.
Are these wars and rivers of blood the best we can do as a nation? Do we have to continue to search in such ghastly places our identity and strength as a nation? Can’t we do better?
Certainly we can.
But in order to understand the issue we must ask why some of us still persist in glorifying past wars and hating those countries that fought against. Groups like the Defense Forces, Finnish Border Guard, the police, far-right politicians, political parties like the Perussuomalaiset and a long list of others benefit economically and politically by instilling such fear.
Those that endured past wars didn’t come out of them unscathed but traumatized and impoverished. My mother, who lived right across Marshall Carl Mannerheim’s headquarters in Mikkeli, told me that she saw an orange the first time in her life when she went to Stockholm in the early 1950s.
That trauma and hurt from those conflicts are still there but too little has been done to overcome them. We are still their captives and because of that some of us have problems in trusting foreigners.
But don’t we have to put to an end one day our suspicions of groups like the Russians? What about if we started today?
Yes, I do think that today would be a good day to forgive and cast aside my deepest fears of others not for my sake but for my children and grandchildren.
Now is a better time than ever to embark on such a journey because it will be a long one but well worth it.