As I recently wrote: for a long time, I harbored a dream about New York for decades. After visits, I would feel restless longing: I had returned from scenes of the vibrant colours of NYC to the muted blues, greens and grays of HEL.
At the same time, I was not sure what I felt about the US of A. I had spent some time in the Midwest as a teen and then again in college. I liked it. My most inspiring and wonderful memories of scholarly activities and freedom are from UW-Madison where I got inspired enough about cultural and media studies to pursue a PhD. (Those were the days, times are a-changing.)
So, on this 7/4, I want to set the record straight:
I love Finnish nature and culture and people and design and all my heritage. I am also so thankful for Finland for the safe childhood and free high-quality education (from K-12 to PhD). Now, assessing this from a distance, it amazes me how many opportunities and resources I had as a scholar. (Those were the days, times are a-changing.) I hope to have given back at least in taxes if not in any other way (and so has my dad, for 50+ years, and for whom we have to now get plenty of health care services from the private sector, due to cuts in elderly care.).
Most of all, I have benefitted enormously from growing up in a socio-cultural climate of gender equality and relatively small level of income inequality. (Those were the days, times are a-changing.)
The above mentioned factors, I believe, contribute to this predicament:
The bottom line: I greatly appreciate the United States of America. GREATLY. Compared to many homogenous small nation-states of the rest of the West, the US is dealing with a hundred-fold of issues. Before moving to the US, I could not appreciate the complexity and diversity of this country — cultural, geographical, political (yes!), ethnic, and so on. As a lay person, I would call it a political nightmare. And, even in the midst of all the challenges and wrongdoings, and (mis)use of power, there ARE dissident voices and activism and debates and idealism. Happy 4th to the complexity of this country, and especially to those who continuously and bravely challenge the status quo, as the history of the country obliges.