Archive for the ‘Soapbox’ Category

End of childhood

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

The title is very dramatic. It’s supposed to be. In the light of recent events, the suicide bombing in Brussels and the Paris attacks and what have you, I’ve been thinking about war a lot.

When I was a kid, the Iran-Iraq war was on the news constantly. It was basically what I thought war as a word meant. It was no doubt a gruelling and hard to understand war, like most wars are. But it was on the news every night throughout my entire childhood. It ended when I was ten, and similarly I thought that wars in general were over.

I was so wrong.

In the beginning of the nineties, when I was starting to enter my teens, the awkward time in everyone’s lives where world is starting to make sense in a whole new way. When world seems to grow from the sand box in your yard to first your home town and later to the whole world. You start to understand that world is more than the glitz and glamour of The Bold and The Beautiful, more than the happy-go-lucky detective series, where the hero always saves the day. You start to understand that world is also the dark nights of Miami Vice where drug lords go unpunished, and you start to see the overflowing hatred between people that leads to wars, time and time again.

And because you are a kid born in the late seventies, you are a teen in a time of a war at the backyards of Europe, the whole debacle of Balkans in the early nineties. The war that initially came up with a term so vile and disgusting, ethnic cleansing.

I was in my teens and consumed MTV like any other kid my age (oh the good old times when mtv was a channel showing actual music videos) and you see the voice of the European youth united against the war. You have news stories and U2 with their ZooTV live covereages from the war torn Sarajevo. The war was pushed through our screens in all its horror, for years. It was horrible to watch, day in day out, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like to people who were there, suffering through it all. It was horrible, vile, disgusting. It was a clusterfuck in a monumental scale in so many aspects, this I’ve learned later.

To me that war was the end of childhood in many ways, the one thing that made me understand how the world needs a lot of work done before it can be called ‘humanity’. We can’t live in peace, maybe not ever, but I should hope that every one of us can act more civilized towards a fellow person.

Maybe that would make things a little better.

Of the lack of humanity

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Some recent events here in my native Finland have sort of re-sparked my interest in war history. I have been an avid fan of war movies and war documentaries as well as war literature since I was in my teens. I’m deeply moved by the events and destinies of people. I’m not so much interested in what battaglion did what and who was commanding which company, I’m more interested in the larger scale of things, like what events lead to the beginning of a hostility that sparked a grand-scale war but also the minuscule things, the people who actually were there, what they thought and how they survived.

But I’m getting technical here. Let’s get back to the recent events.

Now, it seems the whole of Europe is facing a crisis in the form of refugees. The amount of people on the move is huge, it’s by no means unheard of, but it’s a LOT. Here in Finland we’re used to having a around 3000-ish asylum seekers annually. Last year? 30 000+. Thirty. Thousand. That’s ten times the usual. I’m not surprised people find this problematic, even more so, because the economy is fucked, Finland is facing an economic crisis like never before on it’s own, even without an extra 30 000 people, who are in need of shelter. I’ve said this before and I will say this until I’m blue in the face if needs be: in a country of roughly 5 million people, who are largely a uniform crowd of your basic white nordics, 30 000 people from a completely different sort of culture and religious background is not a walk in the park, there are bound to be problems. You’d have to be a monumental idiot not to realise that.

Why am I suddenly writing a -let’s face it- angry rant about this, again?

In the last few weeks, or months, really, here in Finland, some knobheads have taken upon themselves to form street patrols to ‘help keep the streets safe for Finnish women and children’. This is happening in ten, maybe fifteen cities, the street patrols consisting mainly of around ten-fifteen men. Now, they claim they help to prevent crimes and if they see a crime happening, they will inform the police about it and let them handle it. It all sounds nice and good and with the police force having insufficient funding and thus being unable to patrol in the streets like before, this sounds like a good way of keeping the community a little safer.

Except.

These patrollers rave on how they want to save the Finnish women and children from getting raped in the streets. They weren’t one bit concerned before the refugee crisis ‘exploded’ on our hands. Not one bit. It seems it was ok for these people to have Finnish men raping and trolling about the streets, because, once again, they only started towards the end of last year. To top it off, the head honcho is a self-proclaimed national socialist and has posed in numerous pictures with nazi memorabilia. A good number of these patrollers have convictions of violent crimes, also towards children and women, who they claim to protect. What? Like you beat up a woman and then suddenly realise you want to protect them?

And it’s not so much even the painfully apparent double standard or the badly hidden racism, it’s the complete and utter lack of understanding of history. Of understanding even the least bit about where we, as Europeans come from. It’s been less than a hundred years since a well-documented party of seemingly good people took over Germany and it all went tits up in the most gruesome, horrible ways.

Some of the people supporting these street patrols are -of course- normal people, who are only concerned about the safety of themselves and their children and it’s fine. It’s completely ok to be worried, people can be -as we’ve noticed- shitty and horrible towards eachother. But it’s not ok to categorically just ignore all the worrying signs of this action. You have national socialists running street patrols, who are looking for people who are comitting a crime (or anything resembling one) towards a Finn, then essentially ‘preventing’ it. I can only imagine the ways this preventing will be done, since the internet forums supporting these patrols are full of people writing all kinds of disgusting violent fantasies. Do you not see the resemblance to 1930’s Germany? Is it really that hard to see the parallels?

My god, there are people wishing for concentration camps for the refugees. There are people wishing genocides on them. Like, have you people even been in a history class? This is revolting, it churns my stomach and it makes me extremely worried for my son. What kind of world will he be living in? How many times do humans need to repeat all of it’s mistakes before changing the way we think? Was all of the suffering of all the wars in the 1900’s for nothing?

Have we as a species learnt absolutely nothing? Nothing?

Stigma

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, I’ve been pretty open about it. I for instance have never felt the need to whisper in the chemists when picking up my medication, nor have I failed to report to for instance a dentist that I’m taking meds for this particular mental illness. I’ve told pretty much all my friends about it and have mostly been getting good feedback about it.

Why?

Because I think it’s high time people stopped thinking mental illnesses as some kind of taboo. I hate the stigma that mentally ill people still get in the society. People give you looks and expect you to be a raving lunatic just because you go to a therapist. No. We are pretty average people, who just have chemical imbalance on our brain. Sometimes it makes us act a little different from you, but it might as well be that you don’t even notice it.

It’s also the stereotypes that need to be done away with. Depression isn’t feeling unhappy all the time. Depression is the fear that happiness never returns. Depressed people can laugh and go out, but they can also be locked up inside, not being able to muster the courage to get out of bed. It’s not like they wouldn’t want to go out, it’s just when the mere thought of putting shoes on is so exhausting that you’d rather stay in bed.

Mania isn’t just feeling high and happy and accomplishing things superfast. It’s feeling irritated because people in your life move too slow, things happen too slowly and everything is too damn slow and you’re so full of life that you feel like you’ll burst. It can be very painful mixed episode, where your thoughts run amok but they’re bad thoughts.

But most of the time we bipolar crazies look like normal, everyday people, we deal with the same shit you do and we go on living much like you do.

So please, stop the stigma. We’re people, not our disorder.

Hate

Monday, September 14th, 2015

For the latter part of summer, here in Finland, the news have been mostly covering the refugee situation in Europe. As the civil war in Syria gets worse day by day, more people are fleeing to neighbouring countries and to Europe, mainly to Germany and Italy. Some of them have also found their way to Finland, through Sweden. The amount of people looking for asylum has surprised every governmental instance and refugee organisations have been forced to whip up accommodation for more people than ever, in a shorter time than ever. This has caused a lot of clashing with the local population.

But why?

It seems quite unreasonable, for a Finn at least, that young men in their twenties are fleeing their homes and not fighting for their homeland. Nobody ever says women or children aren’t welcome, it’s always “why the young men?”. I don’t claim to really understand the situation in Syria, far be it, but I can surely grasp the concept of a country, that has on one side a dictator who terrorizes his own people, on another a disgusting terrorist gang whose apparent focus is on making up ever more disgusting ways of killing people, and then you have two or three other gangs all equally hard to morally support. And they all fight eachother. How do you “fight for your country” in that? Everyone shoots everyone and if you’re not interested in joining any of the questionable parties, you will face an execution along with your family. Wouldn’t you basically haul ass? Don’t lie, you would, in a heartbeat.

I understand that it’s hard to understand. War would be much easier if there would be two sovereign countries fighting with each other. But it’s not. It’s a clusterfuck. And from this clusterfuck, people are fleeing. Across the Mediterranean with a dinghy. It’s not exactly a cruise, is it.

I understand that it’s hard to accept different kind of people, hell, most Finns don’t even accept their neighbour because that motherfucker mows his lawn at ten in the morning instead of noon, when normal people have just had their morning brew.

What I don’t understand is the language that people have grown accustomed to use, both on the internet and face to face. People calling refugees pests, like they’re rats or cockroaches or something vile. Something that you have to disinfect your clothes for. In what dimension it’s ok to talk about people like they’re not persons, not human? I’m not stupid, this is not my first time around the block, I know there are problems when two decidedly different cultures meet (or clash, if you want), of course there are, when there are problems even with people from the same culture clashing (i haven’t forgiven the lawn mowing bastard). But in order to solve problems, there must be discussion.

But it’s not discussion if you start with forgetting that this is people, human beings you’re talking about.

Here, have a rant

Monday, September 29th, 2014

I’ve been watching the news lately (to be fair, who hasn’t, there’s so much shit going on in the world right now that it’s not even remotely funny anymore) and reading the local paper. I’ve come to a conclusion, that has been forming in my mind for quite some time. But now I’m sure about it.

Fundamentalism ruins everything. Everything.

Look at religions: Christianity, which is closest to me personally, since I live in a predominantly christian country. You’ve got your basic run-of-the-mill christians, who pray maybe before dinner at schools and attend the church shenanigans once or twice a year, depending if there is a nice singer headlining for the Christmas carols. And then you’ve got the Westboro Baptists and some a bit less raving mad, but nevertheless narrowminded, hatred-fueled fundamentalist assholes, who ruin all good things that lie within the core of the religion. The same is true for muslims. Vast majority are just ordinary people getting on with their lives, eating and working and raising children and trying to get along with the shit that is the economy. And then there are the assholes that make up about 1% of the people but are noisy enough to make people think that they are much more in numbers than they actually are.

Then look at environmentalist and their lot: recycling is an excellent idea, I do my recycling pretty decently. I have separate bins for glass and metal and paper and so on. And then there has to be some idiot, who has to ask if I remembered to take the tiny staple from the tea bag and sort out that one in the metals and not leave it in with the biodegradables. Which not only makes me want to throw glass and metals around but also commit a crime of manslaughter.

How about your car and driving? Yes, I’ve changed from a big-ass four-wheel-drive petrol-guzzling hunk of metal to a bit less thirsty car, be it a muscle car, but still. It takes up about a gallon less petrol on a 100 km than the previous one. But no, that’s not good enough. “Why don’t you buy a Prius or a small, nifty tin that consumes even less and is even more environmentally concious?” Because I want to sit in my car and not fucking wear it, fer chrissakes!

How about food then? It’s not long ago that a national trashy paper was making headlines telling that some expert had been “outraged and shocked” because the children’s menu in a service station chain was full of “bad foods, like chips and wieners”. They’re so salty! There are nitrates! They’re bad for health! It’s a SERVICE STATION for crying out loud. People go there to grab something to eat when they’re on the road. It’s not like they eat there every single day. Sweets are bad for your teeth and bacon will eventually clog up your arteries, but if you eat even relatively healthily, I’m quite convinced a bit of bacon and a bag of sweets once in a while isn’t going to put anyone to an early grave. (i had the best time ever reading the comments on that article, because people were so pretentious, oh my god! like “my children will NEVER eat that shit, we ONLY eat quality foods at home”. girlfriend please, your brats eat at the local chippy just as you do half the week because your ass is too lazy to cook after work.)

In conclusion: Fundamentalism makes EVERYTHING shitty.