I took part in the International Peace Day event at Kerava library last week (21.09.2017). There was a speech by town councillor Shamsul Alam, as well as some musical numbers, a slide show and coffee and ethnic food. Mr Alam spoke eloquently about the need for peace. We might wonder how on earth we can play a role; decisions of peace or war are generally in the hands of politicians, not of ordinary people.
In fact, as Mr Alam pointed out, we have a very important role to play, in everyday life. At the event about one third of the participants were members of ethnic minorities, and two thirds were majority population Finns. Many of the former wore veils over their hair. We listened, learned and then drank coffee together; we chatted in Finnish, some with an accent, some without. This is exactly the kind of behaviour that promotes peace in our local community: people of different backgrounds simply spending time together, focusing on what they have in common and also learning about each others’ different cultures.
The more normal this behaviour becomes, the more unusual and more unacceptable racist behaviour becomes. The more children see adults of different skin colours chatting, spending time together, working together, the more they will learn to behave in the same way. In every country in which people of different ethnic backgrounds live (I think that covers every country in the world, with the possible exception of North Korea), there is a risk of ghettoisation: of ethnic minorities living apart from the majority population, of the latter moving to ”white” areas in order to avoid the former. The reasons for this are numerous and complex, the results are largely harmful. Let us do all we can to prevent this from happening in our local area. Let us promote peaceful coexistence. All we need to do is treat each other as equals. is that so difficult?