Late July this year, Olli Immonen, a prominent MP of the Finnish parliament and an arguably influential legislator of The Finns, which is part of the current coalition government, updated his facebook status with a deeply unnerving statement: He called multiculturalism a nightmare and hoped that his nation could, one day, fight this nightmare.

This was an appalling statement at many levels. First and foremost it came from a country which was supposed to be pursuing all the right steps towards what is enhancing the quality of human existence. Moreover, the statement came not from a layman but from a member of a ruling coalition. Even more mortifying was the fact that it came from a legislator who was, as are the individuals in the same position, responsible to make laws for the country. Had this statement come from an otherwise backward society, a country drowned in dogmatic obsessions, it wouldn’t have struck a chord. In Pakistan for example, we could have people say this about the Ahmedis, call them a nightmare and infuse the holy constitution with hatred spewed at their kind and no one feels the ground shaking. In the Nordic countries however, this is and should remain so, blasphemous.

And yet, there was Mr. Olli, not being asked to step down from his position or even rebuffed by his party members. Timo Soini, the leader of The Finns, termed it as Olli’s personal opinion. Whether the party shared the view was left for everyone to guess.

So, could this very well be the first step towards the downfall of the Finnish society? No.

Just 4 days after the statement, without any formal or much campaigned movement, 15,000 people gathered in Helsinki, the capital of the city, to protest against Olli’s ludicrous hopes. Most of these individuals were locals, Finns, who found multiculturalism a normal and indeed a necessary element of reformation of the society. A large proportion of them travelled from other cities as well. Making a statement was indeed very important to them.

15,000 is a big number. Let me again emphasize that there was no mass media campaign to pull people into this gathering and this detail is very important. It shows a few things: shows, for one, that Finland is not a lost cause. This gathering acted as a reminder to all those who were looking towards this northern state that even if there were bad apples in the society (or the polity), the masses at large were both educated and brave enough to counter such idiocy. It also showed how people had preferences, those that they were ready to uphold.

Nothing really happened to Olli though but, as has been proven by the likes of IK’s dharnas; populism is not enough to crumble an otherwise established infrastructure of doing of things. That said, the person is still detested by the masses. His mention irks many and leaves even more ashamed of his connection with the country.

In this case, an otherwise bad thing, the Facebook status, taught us a valuable lesson. It acted as a trigger to an exhibition which worked to push the society towards a more refined form. In other words, a pessimistic declaration resulted in an optimistic shouting of sorts. This causal relationship is important.

Ahmed Mohammad, a 14 year old Muslim boy, wanted to impress his teachers with his invention of a clock. His story has reached many ears since and I don’t need to repeat on what happened. However, it is interesting to see some justification for what happened to him. Bill Maher in his program insisted that his clock did not look like a clock and it was understandable for the teachers to (over)react because Ahmed’s ethnicity tends to blow things up. One of the guests who got a nod of approval from Bill insisted that Ahmed was showing off his invention to too many teachers even after being warned not to do so. Apparently his celebration of his achievement made him himself responsible of what happened to him.

Sarah Palin, a famous name in the world post 9/11, insisted on her Facebook page that Ahmed’s invention did not look like a pencil box. She shared pictures of other pencil boxes to prove her point. People do have a very funny way of proving their points.

Richard Dawkins, whom I will admit, I have admired since a long time, used his twitter handle to suggest that maybe Ahmed wanted to be arrested and the police simply fell into his ploy. It’s depressing when people otherwise of a very sound mind, give in to such obnoxious theories.

And then we have the very, very famous presidential candidate Donald Trump insist on dealing with ‘it’ when a supporter asked him what were his plans to deal with this problem, the Muslims in their country. Ah well.

All these are pessimistic reaction to an abhorrent incident. Discouraging students from exercising their scientific creativity is a sin only attributed to priests and mullahs losing their marbles. And yet, in this time and age, influential and educated people are seen to be harping onto the same mantra.

Should this lead us to giving up hope? I would argue against that. As with the case of Olli, we saw optimistic reactions to Ahmed’s case as well. POTUS reminded us of America’s values, Mark Zuckerberg wished to meet the clockmaker and Ahmed is the guest of honour at Google’s Science fair.

These are just some examples but very important ones. In all honesty, it’s these people who matter, the common people who are not blinded with political or religious motivations. These people form a major part of what we term as ‘society’. Their views are important. Their views make the world optimistic.