Small countries living next door to giants, such as Finland and Canada, must be forever vigilant to maintain their independence.
This week Finland observes the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Winter War when the Soviet Union invaded Finland. During the course of WWII, Finland changed allies twice.
The Finnish newspaper Karjalainen reflects on how external factors can decide the fate of smaller nations:
“Independence is always a power balance,” the paper says in an editorial. “Becoming independent means becoming independent from someone. Finland first became independent from Sweden, then from Russia. In the 1930s Finland was a young state capable of waging war, with deep prejudices against the economic system of its large neighbour. Finland felt threatened, and looked for help in all directions.
“But it is extremely difficult for a small country to take independent decisions. Finland’s history bears testimony to this. In the spring of 1940 Finland was ally to Britain and France against the Soviet Union and Germany for a short while. A year later it was fighting on the side of Germany against the Soviet Union and the Western Allies. In summer 1944 it was then on the side of the Soviet Union in the war against Germany. When the possibilities of a small country are limited, its leaders must adapt to the tide of history.”
How fortunate Canadians have been in comparison. All they have had to be vigilant against have been the sometimes embarrassingly passionate embraces of their friends, first the British, then the Americans.
Vigilant means, according to a Google dictionary, “ever alert, sleeplessly watchful.”
No wonder the Finns sleep so badly.
Up to a half a million Finns suffer from chronic sleep disorders. The population of Finland is 5,312.800.
A few days ago, the daily Kaleva analyzed the effect of sleeplessness on Finnish society: “Insomnia has a huge effect on people’s emotional and intellectual functioning, and significantly heightens the risk of cardiac and circulatory diseases. Studies show that sleeping problems also lead to higher rates of traffic problems than alcohol. The negative consequences of sleeplessness are so widespread that much more vigilance is required in the fight against them.” (Italics added.)