Last year, prompted by something I saw on Facebook, I wrote about fear and hate. To better understand this “version 2.0” you should read that first.
Just before Easter, Finland had the general election, which was won by parties from the right side of politics. The Coalition (Kokoomus in Finnish), which was the winning party, had a slogan this time that was “the heart is on the right.” Which, anatomically speaking, is not the truth. But it seems to place the party in the right wing of politics.
The next biggest party, the Finns party (Perussuomalaiset), is an openly racist and far-right party who campaigned that Finland is only for Finns.
This worries me. Not just because I recently wrote about going into politics, but also because I still remember the issues we had when these two parties were in the government the last time. At that time, they cut the unemployment benefits, the student benefits, made workers pay half of the employer payments “as it is only fair,” and even the then PM and his family managed to get some governmental funding that was quickly hidden away in Panama and other places. And now, after four years, the voters put them back up there again.
What Has This To Do With Fear And Hate?
Finland is a big country with only 6 million people and an ageing population at that. When that happens, public funding isn’t enough to support the needs of the population unless the taxes are hitched up, and that can not be done indefinitely. We need people from other countries to move into Finland to work and pay their share of tax. And when we vote for a racist right-wing party into government, we don’t get the atmosphere of trust and acceptance towards immigrants, do we. Instead, we get confrontations and hate. Not even fear, but hate.
The latest example of this confrontative atmosphere is from this week, when the True Finns City Councillor in Helsinki tried her best to block a chapel being built on a cemetery premises, as it had two rooms where Muslims could be given their ritual wash before burial. According to her and her party fellows in the council, it is not the city’s duty to fund this for Muslims from the taxpayers’ money.
The fact that she conveniently left out is that the Muslims in Helsinki also pay taxes.
Personally, I am a firm believer of acceptance and tolerance, and anyone preaching against that goes against my beliefs. Possibly the same way me preaching tolerance and acceptance goes against their beliefs. And then we come to the question: which is the right way to go?
Which ever major religion we look at, the same rule applies: be good and kind to one another. That seems to coincide with my personal belief of acceptance and tolerance.
If we stay silent in the face of oppression and intolerance, give give them our acceptance. That is why we need to, as hard as it may be, speak against that and act against that.
As an example, for many non-Muslims, Ramadan is a mystery because people don’t know anything about it and the reasons behind it. But what if we invited people to participate in iftar, the meal to break the fast with? Instead of segregating ourselves, we would share the knowledge over good food, creating friendships and broadening our horizons. Isn’t that what the Golden Rule is all about?
What we need in this modern age and time is to take a step back before we say we hate something. We need to start to be open and accepting, as the world is no longer segregated because of geographical borders like it was in the last century. Today, the world is connected via the Internet, and we can be anywhere in the world and still call our families, for free, with applications such as WhatsApp. Information about cultural differences is just a Google search away, and if it doesn’t coincide with our view of the world, we can quickly judge other cultures as backwater and brutal. In a way, we have entered into a new age of crusading. Instead of rattling swords on the soil of the Holy Land, we have become keyboard warriors waging war on social media platforms, trying to justify that our vision of the world is the only right one.
Maybe we should instead concentrate on embracing the fact that other cultures exist and we can coexist with them?
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