Pretty much every morning I run into some random piece of news in the paper that shakes up my system. This, of course, is a natural part of being a newbie in any given culture, and I think there are few things that tell more about a country than its media and the news it offers. Every day my newspaper reminds me that I live in a country that is at war (the daily Names of the Dead-list gets me teared up often), or that this country still engages in killing its own citizens (I refer to the death penalty). There are all sorts of for-and-against arguments for pretty much everything in life, and I don't really want to go there today. For me, what matters today, is the general lack of security in this society around me.
A lot of it comes down to my percetions and my roots. Despite Finland having its own serious sociological issues, there is something about the social-democratic heritage of my home country that keeps telling me that the system will take care of things, and that it will essentially take care of me. The promises of the system are often just a bunch of bureaucracy, but at the end of the day, you don't see movies like Rambo shows on tv at midday (like here), or you don't read in the paper about a pressure group that wants to openly carry guns in Starbucks. Here, a lot of people (not all) tend to think that the system is the enemy.
Remember Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine? To me, what comes to mind is the part of the documentary about the sense of fear that lingers in the American society. I am not a huge fan of Michael Moore, but I think he has a point. I see an awful lot of fear around me here. People lock their car doors when they drive. Houses have full-on alarm systems. People debate whether it is safe for me to ride my bike in a small town of 50,000 people.
In our small town, I have to shake myself up often to not be afraid. It is not that I feel insecure per se. This is a small, quiet town. But it is the popular culture, filled with tv-shows about serial killers and rapists, and news about people carrying guns that make me nervous. More than that, it is the people around me. They are afraid, and I guess have always been.