I have been living in Finland for almost ten years and I learned something very important that changed the way I used to think. As soon as I arrived, I observed that people trust each other more than in other countries I have been living in. And is because trust and honesty are very important in Finnish culture.
An example is the number of lost wallets getting back to their owner. I have experienced it by myself when an unknown person called my boyfriend telling him he had his wallet. That happened during Vappu. He didn’t realize he lost it. The lady called him and meet him in the park to give back the wallet during the night.
Other lost things are also given back to their owners. To do so is the normal behavior in the Finnish culture. In other cultures, as in my background culture, people keep the stuff or they just don’t care if the owner gets it back.
The rules are followed by most of the citizens and are very trustful to each other with no cheating intentions when they could do so. In my background culture, those circumstances where you could take advantage and you don’t do it, you are seen as an idiot. Even worst, people think they are very smart because they were able to cheat.
An example of this is the situation in a supermarket in Spain. If the cashier forgets to pass through the scanner an article, most probably the shopper would not tell anything to the cashier and will leave the place happily with a “present from the shop”. Besides in Finland, people who realize they did not pay an article, will go back to the cashier and inform her/him.
This is a behavior that made me think about Finnish society. In my opinion, compare with other countries, everything works better because everybody (or the majority) is involved in trust and honesty and not only thinking about his/her short-term Benefit. In the long term, everybody wins when we care about the whole system.