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Opinion

A shy, modest nation opens up

Kari Väisänen writes how Finns have a tendency to turn positive studies and news concerning their own country into negatives.

Life can’t be that dismal! These are the words of a young Finnish expat. She was spending a few days in Finland on the threshold of spring, partly for work, partly for leisure. She said that she turned off every single Finnish electronic media on her first evening here. There’s a limit to torturing yourself with gloom.

The world has its troubles and Finland has its own. Our national character just happens to be one with a tendency towards gloom and melancholy. Sometimes we just can’t believe that something good really is good; instead we turn positive studies and news into negatives.

There is no way that we can be one of the world’s happiest nations; we are so quiet and this place is so silent and dark in winter. But in actual fact, quiet is one of the things that an increasing number of tourists are coming to Finland in pursuit of.

Even when it comes to safety, we wait until almost the entire world is up in flames before we open our mouths. On the other hand, we are known around the world as problem-solvers, not trouble-makers. When a Finn arrives in the middle of a crisis, they will simply ask if they can be of service, no speeches necessary.

There are many Finns out in the world who have achieved success in respected fields, such as in music and design. We are proud of them but we also wonder whether they might be needed here at home.

We are still world leaders in education, technological expertise, health technology and in cleantech’s tightening competition. Sometimes, however, it might be good for us to remember to proclaim these strengths to the world.

Whatever the case, Finland is opening up and becoming international– albeit rather slowly. That may even be a good thing in a world where fewer and fewer things are weighed carefully before being carried out.

Kari Väisänen
CEO, Finnfacts – Economic Information Office TAT
14.04.2016