Independence day

We are not a political band in the sense that we have some strict political ideology that we are trying to spread through our music. Our main purpose with our music, except for creating music for our own selfish pleasures, is to touch people and create around three minutes of beauty with each song. Our purpose is also to provoke people, to reflect about themselves and our world, and to think for themselves. So, we are perhaps not completely non-political, it is after all impossible to stay fully objective, and politics always effect us in one way or another.

With that said, there are some personal thoughts about nationalism and independence I want to put forward today. Finland has now been independent for 95 years, after previously been a part of Russia. To have a nationality, and some sort of identity, is great and worth celebrating, and I don´t think that celebrating your independence makes you a thoughtless patriot. But, nationalism has over the years brought great tragedies and horrors to our world, and still does. And I think the problem with nationalism begins when your national identity isn't built up out of respect of other identities, but by the thought that the own group identity is somehow better than other identities. This can be done by, for example, describing different identities as foreign, lower class or threatening. This quickly creates an us against them polarization, which we have seen causing many wars and conflicts.
Except for creating inter-group conflicts, I also believe that an identity, built without the respect of others, is self-destructive. Because the identity is on such fragile grounds, only determined by a common enemy identity, it can easily produce agitation against differences within the group or nation. Which we sadly sometimes can see examples of in Finland; between Swedish-speaking and Finnish-speaking; Finnish people and immigrants and Sami People; and on a more global scale between Europeans and Non-Europeans.

But today I am proud to be a Finnish citizen. Because, even though I see a great deal of racism and intolerance, I also see a Finland that is built out of respect and caring for others. Where for many people the gender or sexual orientation of the president does not matter. Where diplomacy is considered a fine art. Where social justice is high on the political agenda. Where the poor are not neglected, and social capital is more important than economic growth. Where everyone can feel welcome and at home.
That is the Finland I think our grandfathers and grandmothers fought for, and that is the Finland I hope to see more of in the future. So, happy Independence Day Finland!

/Markus

(The matter of national identity is of course much more complicated than I have described here, but I hope you get the main point. )