The F-word

“It’s obviously more important that Israel survive, you know, than probably some other random set of six million people elsewhere survive.”
– David Plotz, Slate’s “Political Gabfest”, April 20, 2012


Over here? No, not Israel, look a little further north. A little more. Here, in Europe. Just go straight north from Israel and when you hit the Arctic Ocean, look to the west. See? Just another random set of 5,363,624 people.

That’s right. Finland.

Reilu meininki!

It’s almost as if there’s one group that can be slapped with a four-letter F word without anybody blinking an eye, just like that, with no need to be worried about the consequences.


Just because people don’t like mämmi – that traditional Finnish Easter dessert made by mixing water, rye flour, and powdered malted rye, seasoned with dark molasses, salt, and dried powdered Seville orange zest and then allowing it to go through a slow natural sweetening process before being baked in an oven until set – or can’t even pronounce it, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a part of the global vocabulary just as much as bagel is. In fact, from now on, let’s call bagels rinkeli instead, and when you’re at a party, or simply being treated well – or if you just want to be sarcastic, not so well – just say that there seems to be a reilu meininki. OK?

That way, we’ll all have a little better feel on Finland, and everybody would feel truly connected to the little Finn inside them.

I know, I know, five million Finns in a world of seven billion is a drop in a bucket. Nothing, really. We’re just 0.07 percent of the world’s population, and maybe that’s why people can pretend like we don’t exist, or the very least, like they’ve never heard of us, but let me tell you. We exist. We’re here, there, and everywhere.

So, please. Enough already.

Besides, two can play this game.

Yes, we may be a random set of people, but I bet you’d miss us if we first did something great that would make you really notice us and then we’d just take it back. One day, we’ll just do do something really great, just to get back at the world, you know.

(I can let you in on a secret. We already started it with Nokia, once the world’s biggest mobile phone company, which we will now, just out of spite, shrink to be the smallest mobile phone company in the world.)

What would you say if we took back, I don’t know, say, the Angry Birds! There! Boom! Didn’t see that one coming, now did you? Why do you think those birds are so angry anyway? Because they’re Finnish, and they’re tired of being thrown around, too, that’s why.

But Finns love peace. We just want to be left alone so can’t we simply be friends? We all know that Finland has the best educational system in the world, and everybody over here can add and subtract and we know stuff. Important stuff like that the population of Israel is 7.3 million.

That’s gotta be good, right? Right?

At the very least, could we at least agree that Finland should be bumped up a little on that list of random sets of six million people that should be saved in a nuclear war. Please? We’d like to survive, too. Obviously.

That’d just be reilu meininki.

How does that make you feel?