Statements on the ‘Health’ of Finland, by six Senior Commentators from National Institutions.
Developing new understandings about the National Dynamics of Finland.
Six members of the Finnish Think Tank: Dynamics of Groups and Societies (RYD) met with Dr Mannie Sher of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in May 2019 to reflect on the state of health of Finland. The six workshop participants, Aki-Mauri Huhtinen, Sinikka Torkkola, Pertti Ahonen, Ilkka Väätti, Anja Salmi and Jaana Hallamaa have written short statements to illuminate the possible unconscious reasons why Finnish society works against itself.
Social media, journal articles and official statistics identify Finland as one of the happiest, safest and least corrupt countries in the world. Still, people complain about how insecure they feel. According to the corruption index of Transparency International, Finland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world – however, this does not mean that Finland is free of corruption. Finland is a small country where ‘everybody knows everybody else’. Favours given today must be returned tomorrow. There is no need for bribes. Finnish corruption is structural, which is more difficult to detect than street-level corruption.
Public institutions, like the media, the church or universities, have the role of exposing corruption, dishonesty and secrets, and challenging society to think about the important issues confronting it, but seem more concerned about promoting and protecting themselves. The authors of the statement feel that Finland does not have appropriate national spaces to discuss important national issues and as a consequence, they believe that Finland has created an artificial surface superficiality beneath which lie deeper truths of which little is spoken. They suggest that Finland’s identity is a ‘cut and paste’ one, copying the norms and behaviours of other societies, ignoring Finland’s history and culture in determining ‘what we are’, and concentrating more on comparisons with other societies that inform us of ‘what we are not’. They suggest that Finnish identity is influenced by the repeated change to its borders and the loss of territory.
The workshop participants asked of themselves: ‘Are we doing what we have set out to do?’ The potential for corruption at a national level and in the workshop itself needed to keep asking: ‘Why are we doing what we are doing?’ The task of the workshop was to turn blame into learning, bring corruption to the surface and make it visible so that it can be studied.
Is Finland unique avoiding uncomfortable social dynamics, or is Finland’s denial mirrored in other countries, including our own?
Read the full statement here.