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Finland of Mayberry syndrome

September 10, 2008

Mayberry used to be an imaginary town in North Carolina where the 1960s sitcom called The Andy Griffith Show took place. In this make-believe town and world, life was simple, traditional values were cherished, and people respected and cared for each other.  There were two sitcoms during that decade that portrayed the same world view of small-town America: Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

Mary Mekko from San Francisco, who has a very interesting name, posted the following comment: When I returned in 2006 for a 2-week visit, I was shocked at the number of foreigners, especially the Somalis, in Helsinki, along the Metro line towards Itä-Keskus.

And here is another one by Tiwaz: Just look at yourself! You are originating from one or multiple multicultural hellholes with excessive social inequality, division of society and various other problems. But still you try to champion the idea of changing Finland into same kind of multicultural hellhole.

I too remember Finland many decades ago as a huge Nordic Mayberry. Life appeared simple and certain values, such as the love and respect for the woods, had real meaning and importance. There was very little crime and the Finns appeared on the surface content with their lives even though suicide rates were one of the highest in the world.

Are some of our views on Finland anchored by images of life in Mayberry that never existed in the first place? One interesting matter about the sitcoms I mentioned is that there is not a single black person, Chinese restaurants, pizzerias, Mexican Americans, gays, feminists, Ku Klux Klan members, bigots living in the towns of Mayberry, Hooterville (Green Acres) or Pixley (Green Acres). They appear like bubbles immune to the ills of urban society.

Possibly living in these “idyllic”  towns — if they existed — would have taught us they they were not as content as they appeared and were nothing more than places where values lived in straitjackets and never changed. Nobody could ever question the system because it was — like Finland? — a so-called perfect society.

Sometimes when I remember what Finland was like many decades ago and read some of the comments in this blog, I jump and exclaim: That’s another one that has been struck by the Mayberry syndrome!

Here is a funny clip from the Mayberry Sheriff’s Office:

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 10, 2008 2:32 pm

    Well yes, you cannot pickle an era into a jar and then return back to it.

  2. killertux permalink
    September 13, 2008 3:59 pm

    “Finns appeared on the surface content with their lives even though suicide rates were one of the highest in the world.”

    Statistics are just made different way in different countries… in Finland statistics are juts more accurate then most countries also cause of death is verified quite often. So statistics can’t be compared… anyway in some hellhole country many people will die before they can even commit suicide… and statistics are inaccurate because of religion or lack of money etc. (yes, I am native Finn)

  3. Enrique permalink
    September 13, 2008 4:11 pm

    Hi Killertux, welcome to Migrant Tales. Thank you for your comment.

    –Statistics are just made different way in different countries… in Finland statistics are juts more accurate then most countries also cause of death is verified quite often.

    OK, fine. So what you are saying that other countries in the EU and elsewhere do not record suicide rates as accurately as the Finns. Is it because they have a different method of recording suicides? Could you please elaborate?

  4. killertux permalink
    September 13, 2008 4:44 pm

    well… some people see suicide as some kind thing you can’t even talk about… and when you can’t talk about it “it does not happen”.

    I remember one of my classmate who made suicide with shotgun(whole head was blown off) around 10 years ago… it’s natural that people make suicides from time to time but some people do not see it that way.

    Also I expect that cultures with high level of competition might make more suicides because of stress and high expectations… Japan suicide rate is quite high too I think.

  5. Enrique permalink
    September 13, 2008 5:11 pm

    Yes, you are right. Life is a wonderful gift we are given and to take it away by our own hands is tragic. But yes, our society creates a lot of dysfunctional people. I had a cousin who threw herself off a balcony. You really never recover from it.

  6. September 21, 2008 11:08 pm

    Enrique, you should check out “Murder in Amsterdam” by Ian Buruma. It is essentially all about Mayberry syndrome in a dutch context. Fantastic book.

  7. Enrique permalink
    September 22, 2008 3:21 pm

    HI “Me,” welcome to Migrant Tales and thank you for your comment. I looked up some information on Ian Buruma and a review in The New York Review of Books, an excellent publication I used to subscribe to. Could you please tell us what his main arguments are and how our “decadence” has made us incapable of defending our liberal society? It is a pretty interesting yet complex point.

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