Me: “I need to go to the gym now”
A friend in Denmark: “You are still allowed to go to the gym?”
Well yes. Here in Finland the borders are still open, so are the schools and gyms. On the way home after the gym tonight I passed by a bar, it was full. Not a single mask in sight, no gloves, no cancelations except for those events with more then 500 people.
Granted, there were less people at the gym, people are buying more food, and some movie theaters are allowing only 100 people at a time per show. So yes, there is some fear, and concern, but not panic.
In this city I live in, the 2nd largest in the country, as of yesterday there were 126 quarantined and 11 confirmed cases. So no, the numbers are not off the charts, but yes there are cases here too.
So! What’s so different with how things unfold here in comparison to rest of the world?
* No Fear-based Politics
* Self-responsibility
* We not Me
* Trust in their Government
* Access to Quality Health Care!
* “Practical”
* “Social Distancing”
* Some of the oldest Rock on Earth!
(If you have anything to add to this list please include it in the comments below!)
* No Fear-based Politics:
Since the beginning, the media and government here in Finland has been publicly outspoken about what it perceives to be the over-reaction and political maneuvering, including fear-based politics, others governments and agencies have demonstrated. Here, they are cautious as they move forward not to over-react, not to cause panic, while at the same time listening to medical experts in order to take their next steps. This is not an opportunity for partisan politics or power over games. It’s impressive!!! Given the amount of hysteria spreading across the globe, I’m in awe at their stance and how they are holding it.
* Self-responsibility:
Finns, in my opinion, are incredibly responsible. If they feel they have any symptoms they will take themselves in for testing and quarantine themselves without anyone else telling them they need to. And the government knows that as is counting on it. And they know that and trust each other to do so. And they care. I know family gatherings and events are being canceled because grandparents or elderly parents may be exposed to someone sick. But it’s done from a deep place of self-responsibility, not panic. It feels very different!
* We not Me:
Individuality, standing out, shining, that’s all tough here in Finland culturally. HOWEVER, the flip side of that is that they think in WE not ME. The social system of course is a reflection of that. They are happy tax-payers, they are used to living thinking of, and paying for, each other’s welfare, not just their own.
* Trust in their Government:
Finns generally believe that the government is on their side, it’s there to support them. They trust what they are told by their government and they know they have a safety net. So in general, their survival mode is nowhere near on alert, (i.e. out of fear that they can’t trust their own government or that they won’t have shelter, medical care, food, basic needs met). So it does take a lot more to shake the fear in their base and get them in survival mode, then in other places where people are skeptical about their government or can’t count on safety nets.
* Access to Quality Health Care!
Finns have a competent health care system and it’s financially accessible to all because it’s a socialist system. So Finns are not worried that if they are tested positive, or get sick for any reason, that they won’t have access to the health care they need. Of course they will.
* “Practical”
Finns are practical, reasonable, rational, pragmatic. Some would argue too much and at the expense of feeling. In this situation I can say it’s really paying off, no rash decisions, hysterical reactions, or panic. Just what is the practical thing that is needed to do.
* “Social Distancing”
As one humorist writer in Finland twitted today: “This is what Finns have been preparing for all their history!” Buahahahahaha. But yeah, asking people to take physical distance from each other is not exactly a stretch for the Finns in general. They can give the rest of the world lessons on this!
* Some of the oldest Rock on Earth!
Finland has no volcanos, is not near any fault lines (so no earth quakes) and has been covered (and squashed and sanded down) by Kms high ice during every major and mini ice age this planet has ever known. So what? So it has some of the oldest and densest rock on the planet. What this land vibrates is incredible! Depth, solidity, stability, “timelessness”, peace… and that isn’t easily shaken. I truly believe this supports Finns, even if they don’t know it, to not so easily succumb to fear! Perks of being close to/ part of the arctic circle! And even from Helsinki center you can just drive 15 mins out and be with that land. Finns commune with nature, consciously or unconsciously, regularly even if they live in cities. Many seek regular refuge in their waters, forests, and rocks, they respect and care about their nature and environment.
Over all, the government here has the approach that IF they have to error on one side, they rather slightly “underdo” then overdo. And this reflects the Fiinnish mentality in general (minimalist architecture anyone?). They are treating their people like mature adults, giving them as much information and facts as possible, keeping them informed (every citizen is to receive an information package we read). And they trust that IF they error and underdo, the citizens will compensate with self-responsiblity. They trust that everyone will do their part, without the need to wield FEAR! They know that if they error and overdo, and take freedoms away as a result of panic without sound reason or proof, they are cutting away at the very core of the culture and socialist system.
I have to say, living here right now is such a breath of fresh air, literally, in comparison to everything Im reading, hearing about, and being told about. It’s like I’m living on a different planet right now!
Having said all that, I also know that there probably have been behind the scenes meetings and pressure has probably come to Finland to “do more”. (And yes I’m aware that the Nationalist party is calling for more action, using the US as an example of how a “real president reacts to this kind of situation.” Luckily they are not in power.
I’m grateful to have been adopted by this country and it’s people. In times of great test, like this, Finland and it’s people are showing their true colors, what they stand for, and how to hold that even when so much of the planet is currently vibrating on fear. We could all learn from that! I know Finland historically has had a bit of a “little brother complex” towards some of it’s neighbors, of “not good enoughness” in general in the global scene, considered a place with bad weather of peasant background and not much else (except for their education system). I dare say…BE PROUD FINLAND, YOU ARE SHOWING THE LEADER THAT YOU ARE!!! You are showing the world what your core is made of!!!
I’m in awe, I’m beyond grateful. Being here gives me hope for humanity! That we may choose, after all, presence and love instead of fear. I sincerely hope we do!
As I write all this I’m aware of Denmark’s border’s closing and the draconian laws that have been passed there concerning CV19. I’m aware that Estonia has also shut down for 2 weeks. Poland is closing it’s borders on Monday. Greece closing down all public areas where people gather (yoga studios, restaurants, theaters, bars, etc). France has canceled school until further notice. India has just made null all visas. The US has declared a state of emergency. The stock markets throughout the world are experiencing such crashes unlike anything they have seen before or at least not in a long time. That’s why I bothered writing all this. Because I want to celebrate what rightfully should be celebrated amongst all this!!!
“Finland? Who would have thought?” My friend in Denmark replied after I shared all this.
YES! Finland!
Kittos Finland for being the silent leader that you are!!!
If you want to celebrate those who are handling this situation right, please share this and any other examples you have, and not only the mass hysteria stuff out there which social media is filled with.
(picture used is from Finnish graphic designer Karoliina Korhonen, depicting the standard Finnish “social distancing”)