Finnish identity in the new century
Since humankind does not still have one flag to rally all the peoples of the world, until that time I hope that it will be the Finnish flag that will wave over this land.
Ever since Finnish independence in 1917, Finns have been forging a sense of national identity. The same tools we used in the previous century to build our national identity have come into conflict with people who do not fit the Elovena-woman prototype on the box of a popular Finnish porridge brand.
In the process of forging a national identity, we created a narrower view of who was entitled to be called a Finn. The dual-citizenship act of 2003 was one of the most important laws that changed matters and opened up the Finnish-identity playing field. Another important right worth mentioning that came into force in the 1980s, was when women were given the right to pass on Finnish citizenship to their foreign-born children.
In my opinion, a Finn is a person who feels he/she is from this land in his/her diverse way. This may include an endless combination of religions, ethnicities, and cultures. To single out people and exclude them from their identity is one of the worse forms of discrimination. It is the same thing that white Americans did to blacks and other minorities before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. They were “Americans” but they were first and foremost blacks.
When a Finn states that a member of this society must accept Finnish values and customs in order to be accepted, what is he/she actually saying? The message is clear – we do not accept your diversity.
Due to the hundreds of thousands of Finns that migrated from this country in the past century, and the fact that more people are immigrating to Finland, it is clear that we have forged alongside the “official” view of Finnish identity another unofficial one.
Laws like dual citizenship and the equality act are important watersheds that allow our diverse Finnish identities to flourish and be defended by law in this country. A multiethnical Finland should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity for this country.
One matter is for certain. It will be the new bold face of Finland during this century.