Small revolutions

From one thing to the other.

One of my friends (still, I hope) once told me “Well, the army wouldn’t have any use for guys like you anyway”. I suppose he was right. I am an idealist, but I still see myself as a pretty pragmatic guy. That is why I get so infuriated by the fact that nobody really seems to be interested in doing something about our mandatory military service, which leads to my anti-militarism.

It should be clear to most people that our current system is outdated in one form or the other and could serve its purpose better than it does now, but for some reason nothing is done about it. On the other hand, I hear that there is currently a debate and plans made within the army, although it is all very hushed. So we shall wait and see, maybe some of my hopes will be answered.

I will now drop the subject of anti-militarism before I get too diplomatic, but please keep on discussing on this blog and on Facebook. I still haven’t been told what facts I have got wrong and still would love to be enlightened. Please keep writing.

Blue mooooooon, you saw me standing alooooone...

Here in Lapinjärvi we awoke to a dazzlingly beautiful full moon over the lake this morning and everyone dashed for their cameras and mobile phones. Today’s topics were first aid, politics and developing countries. Small revolutions happen most every day. A family in Kenya deciding to put their daughter in school. A man in Uganda starting to use condoms. A woman voting in democratic elections for the first time.

In Kenya a woman started what is known as “The Green Belt Movement” in the seventies, after the Kenyan state (allegedly with some help from a Finnish lumber company) had chopped down most of the country’s trees. Her idea was to get women to plant new trees from seeds. Gradually it progressed and people planting trees now became garderners, then foresters and gradually a whole democratic network of women emerged. There were board meetings, elections, business decisions and later a Nobel Peace Prize for the founder Wangari Maathai. The website states:

By protecting the environment, these women are also becoming powerful champions for sustainable management of scarce resources such as water, equitable economic development, good political governance, and ultimately….. peace.

The movement has spread throughout Africa and beyond and is now one of the leading organizations for female empowerment in the developing countries. And it all started with the planting of trees.

Another small revolution that was started in the seventies was the starting shot for microcredits aimed at poor entreprenours in underprivliged countries. The most notable actor in this field is probably Mohammed Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank i Bangladesh.

By lending small sums of money to people (mostly women again) who need help with business, these banks provide the means for small businesses to get started or keep active, although their finances are temporarily drained. These small businesses (such as basket weawing, shoe making, shopkeeping etc) often help to improve the standard of life for women, families and whole villages. And once again, it is also a powerful aid the empowerment of women in traditionally patriarchal societies. Mr Yunus also recieved the Nobel Peace Prize.

Small revolutions can change the world.



Filed under In the News, Non-military service

2 responses to “Small revolutions

  1. Ade

    Well, some points from the inside perspective.

    I agree that you made three main points and arguments, and want to explain why I feel that my own approach is a bit different in these matters.

    1) “The point is that I object to a state-financed institution, which main goal is to learn all men of this country to kill other human beings.”

    2) “The Finnish military education serves to make a smooth and unquestioning killing machine.” continuing “Never think for yourself.”

    3) “In the army they still speak of The Russians with hushed voices, warning that the The Russians are hiding behind our borders with loaded guns.”

    And last but not least I must object to the quit loaded chapter that starts with “And all this also serves to feed opinions that I find freightening,..” and ends with “All this leaves me with a distaste for the military.” I suppose that part is rhetorical, but must point out that it – from my point of view – is somewhat distasteful. I wouldn’t like to part of that kind of system either, and don’t think that I in any way is.

    Starting with the first argument,

    1) The main goal of the defense force is – like the name suggests – to in a time of crisis defend the population and Finland as a sovereign state. The military shows what kind of situations a soldier could face in that situation and gives that person an education that betters his or her chance of staying alive. That naturally involves shooting as a part of survival. My point is that a) nobody can learn how to kill somebody – at least not mentally. Everyone knows how to kill, but hardly anybody (thank God) knows if they actually will have the willpower to pull the trigger, or what that would feel like. A gun is unfortunately so simply made that even a 4-year old can operate it – there isn’t much to teach. What you can do is to prepare somebody mentally so that a person faced with a situation that is simulated beforehand knows how to respond and won’t go into a state of shock. In no way does the defense force put the conscripts in a situation that is so similar to civilian situations that you would have a greater capability to act or react if threatened then.
    The argument could be more appropriately used against martial arts training or even the movie and gaming industry.
    2) If you’re given the order – “march!”, nobody expects that much thinking should be involved. Those of you that have seen Uuno Turhapuro knows what could happen if you question norms that in the society or in the army are taken for granted. You don’t question the teaching in mathematics, because they are as natural for somebody that’s gone trough high school as “attention!” is for somebody that’s gone trough military service. The defense force on the other hand does require you to analyze ant think trough the more complex commands. If you are given an objective, you are supposed to reach it in your own way. A good commander uses the subordinates knowledge and asks for their opinion when figuring out how to get the job done in the best possible way. A soldier that can’t think is useless.
    3) The objectives for the Finnish Defence Forces is set by the government. Strategically there is three different ways of approach – Liberal, Realistic and Constructivistic. The realistic way of sight has almost disappeared from Europe, where the liberalistic idea is dominant. Interesting is that Russia and USA apply the realistic view which isn’t just as optimistic.
    We must prepare for the likeliest scenarios – of which one naturally is Russia as the enemy. That does not mean that that is the only scenario, but living beside a super power usually means that you can apply some common sense and learn from history. History has an irritating way of repeating itself. Even though it would be rational to have a smaller defence force for the time being, the rebuilding of a credible defence (that has to be done relativly quickly) takes too long if we start to reduce our armament. A strong defence is also a very easy way of deterring possible threats.
    I must point out that these are my own thoughts and is in any way not the official view of the Finnish Defence Forces.

  2. Thanks for the points of view!

    I’ll continue the debate for a spell, using the same numbering as before.

    1. I see your point and agree that you are right. From a practical point of view the purpose of the army is of course defense warfare (in Finland), and how best to carry it out without freaking out. From a more philosophical point of view, I still maintain that without guns no-one would be killed by a bullet and without an army we would not need to kill enemies in wars. It is in a war situation that the army is rolled out and at that point the diplomatic means are already spent, which will lead to shooting and killing in one form or the other. That is why we have an army and not a band of civilian service hippies bringing food and pot to the masses. If you’ll allow the joke. 😉 Ergo: The purpose of the army is to shoot to kill.

    2. Yes, I understand the psychological reasoning behind the no-thinking stuff. After that I do admit that I might be a bit out of my reach. And I understand that a certain measure of analyze and decicion-making is taught. How much, I do not know. But the idea of the military training in Finland still seems to revolve more around getting the conscripts to perform whatever task they are given without question than to think for themsevles. On one hand it is probably necessary to work that way, on the other hand I couldn’t make myself work that way.

    3. Well my point is just that – I don’t see the point of preparing for a scenario that no-one actually believes will take place. There is not a single good reason for Russia to attack Finland. And that is why I think that the point of gravity should be shifted towards dealing more with realistic threats, such as global warming, drug traffic, human traffic, enviromental disasters, etc. These are very real and very grave threats to our nation, not Russia.

    And I do not speak of a temporarily smaller army. Officials within the army say that not even in a war situation could it use a third of the current reserve. The army has been begging the civilian service office to take more civilan servants, since the army already has set up a goal to diminish the reserve from 350 000 guys to 250 000.

    Thanks for posting!
    All the best,

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