There are no corners on a globe, Finland.
This text was originally posted on May 8, 2015 after the election in Finland. It has been modified by the author.
The election results in Finland last year offered a clear signal about a few phenomena I want to explore. I call them phenomena in this text because it makes it smoother to talk about them. Otherwise I might get caught up in all the complex mixes of everything that they in reality consist of and, like often in politics, never get to the point at all.
I was listening to a lecture online and I heard this quote: “People who can remain for extended periods of time in a state of flow have near perfect decision making capacity.”
The government base Finland elected in April 2015 did, in my opinion, not signal that we during the next 4 years could count on any capacity of “near perfect decision making”. Because there seemed to be a complete lack of understanding for two of the fundamental forces in life: change and flow. A firm resistance towards change and no comprehension of what flow is or how to use it for improvement and therefore no reliable plan on how to increase the states of flow in various areas in Finnish policies.
And let me be clear: the word flow does not refer to a one way stream of flow of money, nor to a whishy-washy state where you live with your head in the clouds. If you don´t know what flow means, find out.
One big problem is that Flow and Finland are not good friends. Or shall I say, Flow would love to be friends with Finland but Finland does not seem to trust Flow. Yet. Well what does it require to trust flow?
Like learning how to trust anything it requires that you have a desire to know something you don´t already know.
The election results signaled that Finland was not showing that willingness. Finland wanted to know more of what it already knows and make that which Finland already knows feel even more real, and therefore more important, than what it really is. In the big picture. Because this is a complex issue I am highlighting the following aspects that according to me offer a connection to why Finland voted like this and what it says about Finland as a nation.
Instead of talking about Finns or Finland, I will from now on use the name Fifi. As you read on you can decide for yourself if the name Fifi stands for a (certain) Finn, Finland in general, a habit, a cultural phenomenon, you, others, etc. Ok, let’s begin.
1. THE INABILITY TO MINGLE
Fifi is really bad at mingling. Mingling means that you go and talk to people you don´t know. Without an agenda. Fifi rarely mingles, because if Fifi does not have an agenda by talking to someone, Fifi is certain that they have an agenda with Fifi. So, until Fifi has an own agenda, Fifi does not talk to anyone and therefore Fifi does not learn anything beyond what Fifi already knows. Fifi does not understand to appreciate anything beyond that either, because Fifi does not know what Fifi is missing out on.
2. THE INABILITY TO UNDERSTAND INTERACTION
Fifi is suspicious of anyone who seems to show an interest in Fifi, without showing a reason for it. For Fifi there always needs to be a reason for interaction and definitely for sharing anything. Especially encouragement or appreciation. If Fifi has done something really difficult, Fifi might be open to hearing good things about it. But unlike Fifi´s reputation (to be very honest) Fifi pretends not to care about the attention. Yet Fifi can spend hours, days and years avoiding going to that one super market where Fifi once believed Fifi made a fool of Fifiself. But Fifi still claims not to care what others think and regards interaction as bad news.
3. THE LACK OF PRACTICE IN COMMUNICATION
As mingling is labeled unnecessary (and even suspicious) Fifi never gets a chance to develop the skills of communication needed to enjoy life. All possible variations of communication and vast alternatives for interacting with other people are never practiced and therefore never developed. This results in deeply emotional behavior that shows itself in either ON or OFF states. Either Fifi is shut down and does not speak to anyone, or, Fifi goes to the other extreme and talks to everyone about everything. Without any active filter regarding what´s relevant or appropriate. And then when Fifi is judged for the unbalanced communication, it feeds Fifi´s idea of that communicating was bad in the first place. As a result Fifi pulls back into the shell, keeps everything inside until (because of the inevitable flow between contraction and expansion) the shell explodes, all hell breaks loose and no one knows how to pick up the pieces or put them back together. Which then leads Fifi to use the knife either towards Fifiself or towards someone else.
4. THE FEAR OF DIVERSITY
This lack of understanding why mingling with other people is relevant and this lack of practice in communication leads Fifi to fear diversity. Because Fifi can not navigate in diversity. Nothing feels safe there because Fifi has, to start with, identified Fifiself from a place of disconnectedness. As if that is who Fifi is. And yet we know that human beings and all things human are about connecting. So Fifi has step by step dehumanized Fifiself, without even realizing it. And because it is impossible to look at oneself with one lens and not have that affect how one looks at others, Fifi starts dehumanizing other human beings too. This is leading Fifi to close its borders, lock its doors and to protect Fifiself from those "others" who are knocking on the door. Not just wanting to come in, but many times needing to.
5. THINKING THAT SAFETY EQUALS SAMENESS
So, Fifi is now locked in Fifi´s house and there are people, "other" people knocking on the door. The door to the house they found even though it stands alone in a forest with no other person in sight. This by definition is suspicious, because Fifi can´t understand one basic thing: why are they communicating?! Since Fifi regards communication an alien concept, Fifi assumes these "other" people must be alien too. Fifi has been indoors for so long that Fifi has failed to see that there were wars and oppression and starvation and development and innovation and curiosity that lead people, who still remember their humanity, to continue connecting with others. So instead of trying to understand why people are knocking on Fifi´s door, Fifi thinks that they are after what Fifi has. This makes Fifi very protective since Fifi remembers how first the Swesidors tried to take "it" and then the Rusidors and then the Euidors and now the non-Euidors are coming as well. So instead of seeing the human being in the other, Fifi only sees that they are not Fifi and thinks that therefore they should not be taken into account.
6. FAILING TO CONNECT THE DOTS
The worst problem Fifi has is the inability to connect the dots. This results in ideas about life that simply are not accurate. Like the idea of a corner on a globe. And even more ridiculous is the actual attempt to hide in it and then defend it as a valid positions to take. For a country.
However, falling for the illusion of a corner may not be such a surprise after all. I mean, where do you most likely position yourself if you:
a) exist in the corner in relation to for example other Euidors
b) are taught that the corner is the only safe spot
c) have no clue whatsoever of how to behave in between corners
d) have lost touch with reality, like remembering that Tellus is round and there are no corners to hide in whatsoever.
Moving out of the corner requires a reality check, a spine and action. Fifi must realize that Fifi can not take the old reputation as "The Stable and Trustworthy Fifi" for granted. Fifi has to earn that trust, again and again. Right now it´s lost. Gone. Fifi has to stop assuming that anyone else who happens to knock on Fifis "corner", or who has been thrown into the "corner," is automatically not trustworthy. It´s Fifi who must do Fifi´s part and where should Fifi start?
With the basics. Not in terms of holding on to old rigid building blocks and re-arranging them, no, but instead by facing the reality of interconnectedness: it changes you. And also by showing a commitment to nourish that change and participate in the flow of events, people, challenges and solutions. There are many solutions to be found as long as one communicates. And there are ways to do it with kindness, humanity and respect.
There is no way to resist change long term, it will always sweep you with it. The one who blindly clings only to the known and blocks everything else out will hold themselves and everyone else back and cause many to get really really hurt.
However, if Fifi can agree to get out of the corner (by realizing there was no corner to begin with) and learn to deal with the humiliation of trying something so ridiculous (without knives flying) and actively decide to move forward (together with "others"); then there is a chance for many of the wonderful things that are in place in and around Fifi, to blossom and make a difference in small and larger scales.
So Fifi, what are you going to do?
Are you going to resist the fact that change is the only constant? Are you going to pretend you work with flow by letting the bad stuff loose? Are you going to pretend you communicate by actively blocking others out?
And ultimately; are you going to act like a decent adult and take responsibility for the damage already caused by your fear and ignorance?
You have the option to do the work you need to do on yourself to be a conscious and reliable force for good. Will you do it?
Then get out of the corner. We see you.
written by Camilla Hellberg, an actress and Finnish citizen based in Stockholm, Sweden.
(c) Camilla Hellberg