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Mixing politics with Eurovision: stop booing Russia

On May 10th this year when the Eurovision Song Contest final was held in Copenhagen, I happened to be in the city and was watching the show on a big screen at Rådhuspladsen with some friends. The rain did not stop us, nor did it stop many others as the square was packed. Before the start of the show, me and my friends, who are from different parts of the world, were entertaining ourselves by painting flags of the our home countries in the shape of hearts on our cheeks (Swedish and Finnish flags for me).

Later, two young cheerful girls came up to us, complimented our flags and asked where they also could get their cheeks painted. Here! we said and were happy to spread a little joy by painting heart-shaped flags on their faces. They turned out to be from Russia, but it did not matter. We happily chatted with them before they moved along.

Once the show started, any mentioning of Russia resulted in nearly ear-splitting booing, coming both from the TV and from the crowd at Rådhuspladsen. I thought of these two young girls, somewhere in the crowd, who had only come there to enjoy a fun and entertaining music competition. What’s the problem with the booing? Russia’s actions may be disgraceful, but there is a danger in mixing politics and Eurovision, and pretty much anything else.

I believe that a conflict or a war can only last if there is animosity between the common people on the ground. (I could write long article about this, but let’s keep it short for now.) Animosity is not simply born out of nowhere. I believe it something created top-down by political leaders with the help of media. However, it cannot last if it is not strengthened through actions by regular people like you and me, that confirm the picture propagated by the media and political leaders.

I can only imagine that Russian media is circulating claims that Europeans have some sort of hatred towards Russians and the booing at the Eurovision will only prove them right. Want to do something good? Stop booing Russia at the Eurovision and show that one can differentiated between people and politics.

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My Finnish reservedness makes an appearance

Stockholm recently got their first Starbucks that does not require a fight ticket in order to visit it. Even though I find it overpriced, the coffee is excellent. So one sunny afternoon I made my way down to Stockholm Central station and ordered a tall Cappuccino approximately 40 Swedish crowns. As it was to go, they asked for my name and I proceeded to wait for my coffee. They called my name and I grabbed my coffee, ready to leave but then I saw how they had written my name. No, they had not spelled it wrong. It was what I saw next to my name that shocked me. It was a heart!

Starbucks Coffee Cup

I left with a tense feeling. A heart was too familiar (the baristas at Starbucks do not even know me!) and I did not like it. Could I ever go back to Starbucks? I even wondered. When I had made my way back to the office I felt a little calmer and started to find it amusing. After all, there are worst things in life than a stranger writing a heart next to your name. I guess it was simply my Finnish reservedness that had made an appearance. I wonder, do the take-away coffee cups at Starbucks have hearts in Finland?

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I wanna fit in, I wanna fit in, but…

First of all, I feel a little bit too old to be having these thoughts. Somehow I feel that by my age I should have things figured out already. I should have a job that I like, I should have finished my studies, but this is not the case. I am in the scary space between studies and the “real world”. If you are lucky you will get a good job, something related to your studies, something you dreamed of while studying. If you are unlucky you will be stuck at a job you could have gotten without spending 4+ years at university.

Every choice you make limits your possibilities in the future. Of course you can always choose to get off your current path and start another, but the longer you stay on a specific path the harder it gets. I chose to study the social sciences track in high school. This meant that when I applied for university I could only choose subjects in social sciences or humanities, which I did. My choice of study affects what kind of job I am supposed to have in the future. Of course there are still many options, but many things are off-limits.

This is one point of concern for me right now.What if I want to do something else in the future? I don’t want stay at university and start all over again.

My second concern is fitting in. In every age there are certain qualities that are advantageous when you start your working life. Come as you are is a lie. In my age the quality seems to be “social media aptitude”. If you want to be a true “professional” you have to have a Twitter account and make sure to follow the important people. You should also brush up your Facebook-profile to perfection and be appropriately active and compose appropriate status updates. Excellent photography skills and photogenicy are a plus.

I feel like I have none of these skills and I do not plan to acquire them. For me it would entail compromising one’s personality. I am ambitions and want to be successful, but when you do not fit the norm what do you do? Change? Give up the possibility of a successful career?

I have been active online since internet was first installed in my home. I love the possibilities that internet grants every one of us. I have an identity online, but this identity has always been separate from my real-life self and I want it to stay that way. With Facebook this line between an internet identity and real life identity has become blurred. You are supposed to represent yourself on Facebook, there is no hiding behind an alias. I am however highly skeptical about exposing yourself on the internet. On the internet the world is your audience. This makes me nervous.

If you want to know me, do not look at my Facebook profile, do not look at my Twitter feed. The internet is delusive. Come meet me in person instead.

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A little life

I am too caught up in my real-life that I had almost forgotten about my domain and my so called blog. I am here to blow a little life to it!

These past few days I have been thinking about a Youtube video I saw some months ago, you can view it below. It talks about how children are thought to think in a certain way and thus they lose their ability to think differently when they get older. Being so caught up in my studies, feeling stress about my exams, thinking only about what I need to learn in order to pass this exam and not further makes me kind of afraid that I might lose the ability to think more vividly. I might have already lost some of it, as this video suggest. This is anyway one of the reasons I am looking forward to next January, when I can finally stop, breathe and look around at the world that I am living in.

I will end this post with some music. Mykonos by Fleet Foxes, enjoy!

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Thoughts on Democracy

Reading about USA’s exit from Iraq and the chaos they are leaving behind made me think about the universality of democracy; is it for everbody? This thought has struck me before when I have been reading about the Civil Wars in Africa and now again reading about Iraq.

Many of these conflicts has its roots in the decolonization of former European Empires, where little attention was paid to the varsity of people and cultures living in these areas. In Iraq three major ethnical groups have come to conflict with each other; the Sunnis, the Shi’as and the Kurds (the latter two which suffered under the rule of Sadam Hussein). This leads me to a second question; what makes a state or nation?

It’s easy to draw borders on a map, a little easier to create institutions that formally make a state but harder to create citizens in a nation. Even though democracy should be seen as universal right, it has no meaning when it can only be conducted the formal way, meaning political freedom. What does democracy in this sense mean to a person living everyday in the midst of violence and death, without access to food or clean water? Without any prospects of the future?

Western Democracies seem to think that formally establishing democracy will automcatically bring forth a stable, free and democratic state. History has shown us that this is not the case. Too much emphasis is put on institutions, and too little on culture, customs and norms. A good functioning democracy requires some cultural prerequisites, and without them the project of spreading democracy is bound to fail. But why should democracy be the highest good in a society? Should the first priority not be the right to a decent life (to education, food, water, roof over your head) even though this life is being lived in an “undemocratic” country? I think so.


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