Independence day

This time of year I usually spend a lot of time at home, reading, writing, listening, thinking and enjoying the relaxed and at the same time merciful darkness. We have very little daylight, just a few hours, and the darkness surrounds us day and night. That’s how I feel anyway, as I go to work in the morning (dark) and come back in the afternoon (dark).

What has bothered me lately is the talk of independence. Finland gained its independence in 1917, quite some time ago. Today I was walking the dog in a nearby park, right next to a large cemetery. Independence day brings a wonderful sea of light to cemeteries all over Finland, as people bring candles to the graves of their loved ones or even those they don’t know. The quiet hustle of people walking in and out somehow touched me, as did those four older people standing by the graves of people who lost their lives fighting a war.

How does one appreciate independence? For me it’s about valuing the efforts of individuals as they worked towards something greater than anyone could have gained alone. Many lost their lives, many lost family members and friends. But the democratic society that grew out of those sacrifices has made life better for so many of us. New generations still enjoy the benefits today.

It’s hard to image how life would have been like for me, say, in 1915 or 1917. How would I have lived? What would have been my thoughts? Values, appreciations, likes? Would I have said no to everyone who also wanted a better life? I hope not. At that time there were no common resources to share, nowadays we have plenty. I’m sure there were people with narrow minds and interests back in the day, too, but I guess not quite as much as today. As more people have grown wealthy (as in not starving, more educated, have work and some income) it’s much easier to say no to those who are in need – as you no longer are.

However, many people seem to think they are in need today, of what, I’m not quite sure. But there’s always a need, something is missing and someone else to blame for the lack of it – say, immigrants or those with a different sexual orientation. No matter what it is that you’re missing in your life, there’s always someone else to blame.

This Independence day we have witnessed some of our parliamentarians declaring that they cannot take part in the Independence day reception hosted by the President. Why? Because there will be homosexuals among the guests. The people might even dance together.

Can you believe it? I almost can’t.

Views coming from the same direction seem to say that the veterans of our wars disapprove homosexuals in the presidential reception as well. As somehow the presence of different sexual orientations undermines the sacrifices of those who fought the wars. Really? I mean, are you serious?

Lots of BS of course flies around when people talk. I understand that and surely make mistakes myself, too. But seriously. Many of the veterans live only in the memories of their loved ones, maybe just the kind of people I saw today at the cemetery. What I don’t understand is how the bigots can honestly claim the heritage of those who gave more than people nowadays ever will (in Finland, anyway), and use it to promote their own, incredibly narrow-minded views, just like that.

So, I’m hereby occupying independence back to all of us who think progress is made together, with an open mind and respect for human rights.

♦ In the meantime: I finally finished my home-made Christmas calendar. It’s almost my height, with pockets big enough for properly sized chocolates. Just a few days late, but let’s not dwell on the details. More chocolates for me today!

♣ Song of the day: Jean Sibelius, Finlandia

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