Incompatible Cultures?

Commentary, Finnish Culture

Today I want to blog about this concept of “incompatible cultures”.

I’d been thinking about this topic for a long time, and especially after the influx of 1 million refugees into Europe this year. For starters, some Europeans are insisting vehemently that they are “not racists”, even as some of them attempt to for example, burn down asylum houses, or make random attacks on darker skin foreigners. This is often followed up by statements such as– “I don’t mean to sound racist, but [insert racist statement]”.

How about, chicken?

…Which means having NO guts to stand by what you say?

Anyway, today I am going to articulate another argument, which is to say that some Europeans are not necessarily racists, but can be motivated additionally by fear. I can only speak from what I’d observed in Finland and not other countries, because I’d been living here a while already.

And YOU can be assured that I’m not influenced by any sort of institutions/money which forces me to constantly sing praises about Finland. This blog after all, is personal and non-profit. This is unlike of course, some websites run by privileged groups of (white) foreigners who have, by the way, made a niche out of only saying good things about Finland.

Being deluded obviously is a choice, so if you want to stay deluded, maybe you shouldn’t be reading this blog. Trust me, I really don’t care, because my livelihood doesn’t depend on your opinion. I can however, understand your need to stay deluded, and I really feel sorry for you, so maybe you can consider finding other things in life to look forward to?

Okay, so lets get started! 🙂

What is “culture incompatibility”?

In the current refugees migration into Europe context, I’d define culture incompatibility as the clash of ideologies.

Let me start with a really simple example. Some patriarchal societies believe that women are subordinate to men. Some men of these societies might then believe that if a lady were to be uncovered (for example, having their shoulders bare), then they can/should be raped. Now, seen from a purely theoretical perspective, the rapist basically doesn’t see himself as doing something wrong. In his culture, that is something that just happens–woman doesn’t cover herself = signal to be raped.

So the point is, some refugees might belong to such a culture, and when they migrate into European cultures which champion equality of gender, ideological conflicts are bound to arise. Imagine being brought up in an environment whereby as a man, you are used to viewing women as sex objects. What makes anyone think that this habit is going to stop suddenly, just because the man is now in a different physical location?

The worst thing about this is that a culture incompatibility does imply behavioral modification of women in the host countries. If the integration process of refugees sucks, or is non-existent, this means that women in the host country cannot wear whatever they wish, doesn’t it? If they choose to still wear say, mini-skirts, the fact is that they are inviting rape to people who once subscribed to a culture where rape is permissible, and short skirts are the invitation.

My point here is: cultural change is infinitely difficult, so perhaps it is better to avoid such conflict in the first place?

Because, any country which accepts refugees has to care about culture compatibility too. Tolerance is an issue, and so is knowledge of both the host and migrant cultures. Of course, I doubt any European cultures would be accepting of a “rape culture”, and this implies that educating refugees of the “European way of life” is very important. Failing which societal chaos would ensue.

Doesn’t this mean that leaders should consider re-conceptualizing how they define “integration” of refugees, and by extension, migrants? Integration doesn’t mean simply giving refugees houses and food. Integration means really treating them as equals– equality to opportunities, access to education, enhancement of cultural understanding, etc.

Of course, in Finland’s context, for years they have been used to the idea of migrants= refugees, or poor foreigners. And this sort of ideals still stick. In addition, any integration of migrants depends largely on how big-hearted your human beings are, and how ready they are to show their generiosity. And I quote this Sami spokesperson Pekka Aikio:

“Being charitable has never come easily to Finns. They seem to fear all foreign cultures and influences.”

Then again, it might be hard to be big-hearted and generous when the Finnish economy is obviously declining in a tumultuous EU region, and having defined “international” as EU.

This is where narrow-mindedness comes in, no?

But honestly, I was thinking if the concept of “culture incompatibility” can be applied to Asian migrants as well. Asia afterall, has become a rapidly growing economic region, but some in Finland probably still see Asians as an inferior race. For example, Aalto University assuming by default that all Asians/Africans can’t speak/write English and makes them all take the English test for admission to university, but oh, all by virtue of physical region, all EU folks are exempted from this test. 🙂 And no, the language rule still hasn’t changed since 2011.

The fact still is that most East-Asian/Southeast Asian cultures are probably incompatible with Finnish culture in many areas. Therefore, a high degree of integration and big-heartedness on both sides is needed.

For example, many have spoke freely (talk is cheap, remember?) about expansion into Asia, but when asked about marketing budget, they say they have no money. Ha-ha, so expansion into Asia is cheap? LOL.

To be honest, I think Europeans who have no money should not even consider expansion into Asia. That is seriously insulting and nonsensical.

And obviously, there are many who think that Asian students are in Finland to leech on the free education system. To me that’s a ridiculous notion which stems from the idea that “Finnish tertiary education is the best in the world”– because smart Asians could get scholarships anywhere in the world. If your system is attracting not-so-smart Asians who even need the free education instead of being able to get a scholarship, then that is a system-error.

-roll eyes-

I guess complacency is something any nation should consider guarding against, because that sort of attitude really stinks. And the way I see it, I will not and never want to contribute towards an inward looking culture in this age of rapid globalization. And this is why I don’t trust any “expert” who say that they are professionals in “intercultural communication”, when they have no vast experience working across different cultures!

Indeed, integration is a choice of the migrant too. But for migrants who can choose, I’d say, you don’t have to stand for nonsense. Think through your opportunity costs properly, and make a wise decision on where you want to best live out your life and chosen destiny. =)

And nope, I’m not saying here in any way that Singapore is perfect, or that I’m glorifying Singaporean culture. In fact, our Singaporean society is highly competitive, and obviously not for anyone who accepts mediocrity, or prefers a slower pace of life. If you’re in Singapore–it’s best to make sure that you work very hard, or be very rich. There’s no middle ground.

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