Yesterday I attended a cultural awareness training. This particular lesson handled the (United States of) American culture, and the trainer was native American. I've attended cultural trainings also earlier, but this was the first one that didn't focus on comparing the American and Finnish cultures - which I found very positive. Why so positive? Well, firstly I think it was thoughtful, since not everybody in the audience were Finns. Secondly, we Finns are very eager to know what others think about us, so a comparison will eventually just strengthen our own self-image, and we forget to focus on the culture we came to learn about.
There was a quiz in the training, we had to do it in groups. One of the questions handled the US history: the trainer asked, what are the two biggest traumas in American history (according some official source, I didn't write down which one). The correct answer was the civil war and the great depression. Our group suggested 9/11 and Vietnam war. The trainer kindly advised us to hush about Vietnam.
I began to think what would be the two biggest traumas in the Finnish history. I guess part of the official answer would be the civil war in 1918, but honestly, how much does it affect on the life in 2012. Then there's of course the second world war, but in my opinion the second world war wasn't a national trauma, it created our national identity; individual level traumas are a whole different story then.
I think Finland's relationship to Russia over the times could be named as one of our national traumas. But what would be the other big national trauma? Self-evaluation is quite difficult. It's much easier to point out other cultures' traumas.