Shouldn’t we be happy then? After all, we live in the happiest country in the world. A country where the air is one of the cleanest and where there is the highest level of personal freedom in the world. A country that is perceived, according to an EU survey, as one of the most racist.

For the seventh consecutive year, Finland has been chosen as the happiest country in the world. The selection is based on evaluations of life satisfaction provided by residents of 143 different countries. Additionally, happiness has been examined through the following concepts: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and corruption.

Finland also shines in another type of statistic. According to a study by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, Finland ranked once again as one of the most racist countries among the following 13 nations: Finland, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, France, Sweden, Germany, and Denmark.

So, we live in a country where we breathe the cleanest air in the world and we are so damn happy, but where diversity is perceived as a frightening threat. The fear of diversity manifests, for example, when immigrants try to find employment or housing. Fear is present in workplaces, schools, public transportation, shops, and streets. Fear dresses itself in hatred, prejudice, discrimination, and contempt.

How can one assimilate into a society where the fear of diversity is still commonplace? In a country where how we look determines the extent of our potential?

Racism affects both the individual and society

Recurring racism increases stress and hyperactivity as well as difficulty in concentration. Physical symptoms such as headaches and nausea. Irritability. Due to being constantly on guard, it may feel safer to choose either social exclusion and loneliness or pure hatred. Neither option is better than the other.

Haven’t we already spread enough hatred in this world? And what good has come from it? On an individual level, anger has been observed to affect health: anger raises blood pressure and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (no wonder it’s considered one of the national diseases of Finns), anger weakens immunity and causes changes in appetite and affects sleep quality, mental health. On a global scale, the most innocent bystanders suffer from anger, such as children. When was the last time something good came from anger?

March 18th to March 24th, 2024 is Anti-Racism Week

This year, during the Finnish Red Cross’s Anti-Racism Week, the aim is to encourage intervention against racism. Through the navigator on the Red Cross’s website, you can immerse yourself in various situations and learn about different ways of taking action. Although it often feels like we cannot change the world alone, we can. We can care and intervene. Everyone can contribute to creating a safer, happier society. A small act can be significant to someone else.

At Samha, we want to do our part in promoting equality. We aim to provide low-threshold support, especially for individuals with immigrant backgrounds, and to build bridges to facilitate the encounter of different cultures. We want to offer safety to those who are afraid, support to those who hate, and assistance to those who need it, even when they don’t realize it themselves.