On Monday the Finnish Defence Forces sent out 900,000 letters to all of the country’s reservists, telling them what their role would be in a “crisis situation”. Strangely, no one seems to have received one yet. And even more strangely, most of the guys I know can’t wait to get theirs.
My Facebook feed is full of posts like this: “When is ‘THE LETTER’ going to get here?!?” and “Oh man, I can’t wait to find out where I’m going to get to fight!” I don’t know about you, but personally I try to avoid “crisis situations” at all costs.
So why are so many guys who spend their days in cushy jobs at ad agencies, law firms, startups, radio stations and other offices so excited about getting “the letter”?
I’ve got a few theories. Perhaps it’s one or a combination of these things.
1. Most Finnish guys really enjoy their time as conscripts. It’s the quintessential boys club. It’s where boys become men, learning to make their beds, fold their clothes and do sissipaska (SiPa), or “guerilla shit”. “The letter” might feel to them like an invitation to a huge class reunion.
2. To be honest, many Finnish guys are kind of angry. Most of them stifle that anger and it only really comes out when they’re drunk. Guys like this would love to be given a weapon and an order to fight.
3. Finland loves its war veterans. And with good reason. Like the Finnish national hockey team, these guys truly are heroes. And since making it to the Finnish national hockey team is really, really hard, war hero is the next best thing.
4. Finns are amazingly patriotic. In fact, willingness to defend the homeland is at like 80%, which is way higher than almost anyplace else in Europe and among the highest rates in the world.
5. We’re not part of NATO, so we’d basically be pretty screwed if “someone” decided to do something crazy like invade more than just our air space or waters. And while most military forces rely on heavy artillery and weaponry, Finland relies on almost a million of the fiercest fighting machines you’ll find: Finnish guys.
Or, it could just be that when you spend your days creating concepts at an ad agency, meeting with clients in your law office, honing your big exit strategy or DJing at a radio station, “the letter” seems like a joke. The idea of ever having to actually report to your assigned post and fight seems completely unimaginable. “Come on, that’s never going to happen here.” Yeah, that’s what the German Jews thought back in 1939 when they heard those crazy rumors about gas chambers. And that’s probably what people in Eastern Ukraine thought before last year, too.
There’s no mail tomorrow and Sunday, but maybe “the letter” will arrive on Monday….