It was a shock to be back in Finland after five years. The country had gone bad.
I was born in Finland, and lived here all my life, until January, 2010. I then moved abroad for five years, with my then-girlfriend, now wife. We lived in New Zealand, Scotland, and England. In October 2014 we came back, because my next job happened to be in Finland.
When we came back, I found that the country had changed, or I had lost my rose-coloured glasses. The Finland I left was a place where equality and solidarity were assumed, though not universal. The country I came back to turned out to be racist, scared, and quickly abandoning everything that used to be examples of why the country is a good place to live. Some of the change has, possibly, only happened during 2015 and the refugee crisis in Europe, but the change started earlier.
- Racist behaviour and violence is commonplace. Those who do not look like the natives are insulted, threatened with physical violence, and sometimes experience it.
- Political violence is becoming commonplace. Refugee centers are burnt down, sometimes with people inside. Government ministers are attacked, albeit by throwing a drink on them.
- Politicians get away with saying and doing clearly racist things, up to and including celebrating neo-nazism.
- The government spends a lot of effort trying to break any power the labour unions have, so that the employers get to do what they want. The whole stabilising system of negotating between government, employer, and labour organisations is being torn down, and labour is being stripped of any power.
- Prominent cabinet ministers talk condescendingly about science, universities, and cut down educational funding. Universities should concentrate on being R&D factories for business, forget about advancing civilisation, or the humanities, or the arts. Unless it's the type of arts that becomes best-selling games.
Now, it is clear that Finland was never the kind of idyllic utopia that I thought it was, back when I was young. The older I get, the clearer it is that I was naive.
The change over five years is still quite remarkable. I can't ever go back home. Now, I am sometimes ashamed of being Finnish.