Sunday, December 31, 2006

We, the Finns

Tarja & Lordi
Originally uploaded by antimega.
Last post of the year so time to go patriotic and nostalgic with a glimpse to the future.

Yesterday I was walking to a bar with a friend of mine when he asked:"So what are the good things in Finland compared to Holland? I mean what is special for you here?"

Good question. Yesterday afternoon built a case for a good answer. I went to the cinema with a friend of mine to see Volver. It became evident at the foyer of the cinema that we were not very original with our plan. The cinema (showing arty films) was packed with mostly middle-aged couples and groups of women. While standing in line to the ticket counter, I heard at least three times someone saying:"This was such a nice idea. I cannot remember the last time I was in the cinema."

There was a odd fuss in the line. People kept whispering to their company. The reason became clear when I glanced to the direction of the candy counter. President Tarja Halonen (picture, on the left) was at the cinema with her husband. She had also decided to see Volver. Was funny and superb seeing the president standing in line and munching liquorice. Like the rest of us.

I was highly critical towards Halonen during her campaign for the second term. I felt that she had abandoned her "primus inter pares" attitude and was going for a statesman strategy, i.e. de-politicising the election. I felt that her campaign team was trying to turn the elections into a measurement of her popularity rather than a selection of a political leader for Finland.

It has been a tremendous relief to see that she is back to her old strategy. She is one of the Finns. And that's where this story comes together. Finland is still tremendously flat. This is still strongly a country of sincere people. President goes to the same cinema with her electorate, she still has bad hair days, ministers do their Christmas shopping without security guards and the mayor of Helsinki does his groceries in the same supermarket as my parents.

And then the glance to the future. My New Year's resolution is to fight against cynicism, continue being a trooper for love and do things that matter. Abstract, a bit vague but very difficult. Happy New Year!

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