SOCIAL DEMOCRAT leader Jutta Urpilainen triggered a storm of controversy recently when she suggested that foreigners moving to Finland should keep in mind the phrase “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.’’
As a foreigner, I really don’t understand much of the anguish at all. To me, the idea that a migrant, much like an air mass, takes on the characteristics of the land over which he or she passes is a basic survival mechanism. We move, we learn languages, we encounter strange belief systems and habits, and we emerge better people for it. We also pay taxes, start businesses, spend money, and on occasions even marry local women. We observe local laws and customs, and do so without compromising our own identity.