Life and death on Mechelininkatu and beyond

Kirjoittaja on New Yorkissa varttunut ja Helsingissä naisistunut copywriter.

Dear Mom,

It’s been less than 24 hours since a 9-year-old girl was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street. She died at the scene, which is just a few blocks from my home. Right in front of the playground my kids have played at like a million times. I feel totally devastated. I’m devastated for this little girl who went to school this morning and died before she made it home. And I’m devastated for her family, whose pain I can’t even begin to imagine.

I’m sure everyone who’s heard this girl’s story feels the same. But when something like this happens just blocks from where you live, it literally hits close to home. It’s easier to relate.

If I had been on that street yesterday, like you, I would have done anything I could to try to save her. And I wish there was something I could do now to ease the pain of her family. But there’s not.

Around 20 minutes before that little girl died on Mechelininkatu, the Green MP Ozan Yanar blogged about the growing number of Finnish politicians who are openly expressing what can only be described as moronic and dehumanizing depictions of the current migration crisis in Europe.

Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo, party secretary of the Finns Party, said yesterday that “living-standard-surfers” should be sent back to where they came from. And the National Coalition Party MP Wille Rydman said that the majority of people using what he described as a “sea taxi service” are healthy young men, not people who are fleeing for their lives. Well, if you’ve got a brain, an internet connection and/or access to any reputable news outlet, you’ve got to know that’s bullshit. But because it’s mostly happening in someone else’s neighborhood, I guess it’s easier to think that way.

Ozan writes about the growing trend in Finnish political rhetoric of blaming the victims of things like poverty, unemployment, and the migration crisis. It’s like “everyone is expected to make it on their own and if life knocks you down, that’s your own fault,” he says.

And that’s the thing. When life knocks you down in Syria, it’s no more your fault than it is when it happens on Mechelininkatu.

Over 100,000 people who are literally running (or boating and swimming) for their lives made it to European shores in July alone. And there’s no indication that there will be any less this month. I’m not sure how many 9-year-old girls are among them, but my guess is plenty.

No one could save that little girl on Mechelininkatu yesterday. And no one can fix her broken family. But there’s still hope for the others.

Love, Lissu