War Brings Ethical Dilemmas into Sharp Relief.

Sculpture in the National-museum, Stockholm, 2019.

Your story described yet Another tragedy of separation and displacement that war inevitably precipitates. Humans tend to be perhaps overly concerned with placing blame, in this case, for decisions made by many stakeholders who didn’t enjoy much time to consider implications, or to prepare for reunification.

It is a little more easy to consider ethical dilemmas concerning children, if one always takes the position that the best interests and health of the child is primary. One will then be well served in whatever decision one makes. We could go down the list of participants in this sad story, and ask ourselves, “did this individual/system/administration have the best interests of these children at heart when they made their decisions?” If The Finnish parents and government had not sent the children to Sweden (and other places), what’s the likelihood that many of them wouldn’t have survived the war, or lost their parents, or faced grave hardships? Would any of them have reached the age where they might have been pressed into military service, and would have possibly killed or have been killed?

Yes, these children were sadly separated from their families and their country, but they were moved to a safer environment that avoided war due to neutrality, and were placed with families that had resources to take care of them, and wanted to take care of them. Having lived there for years, perhaps barely remembering their original language, or even their original families, is it ethical to force them to return to their birth country? What if the child is 12 years of age, and states clearly that they consider the Swedish adults their parents, and that they want to stay and not return to Finland? If the child has reached “the age of reason,” what rights does s/he have to make those decisions for themselves? Shouldn’t their birthparents have understood that there would be a risk that they would never see their children again if they sent them away? Were they forced to send their children away, like the native people of Canada had to do, because of a racist government policy of forced child separation and encampment of Indian children in residential schools, or did the Finns choose to send them, even if for only caring motivations? Is it ethical to demand that children return, often to a much less healthy and nurturing environment, when a child clearly states that they do not want to return, and would be retraumatized should they have to return?

These are decisions that will affect people for the rest of their lives. Could a compromise be reached among all parties that perhaps would be the least violent to all? The best we can do is deliberate, ask a lot of questions, get a lot of opinions, and continue to deliberate, knowing that there is no perfect answer, and somebody’s going to feel terribly wounded.

The complicated dilemmas of life usually exist in the grays, not in the blacks or in the whites.

Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Spring Day, 2019.

A psychologist morphing into a writer, photographer, singer, poet, historian, traveler &4ever student. Let’s Do Twitter: Pt4Oh. Obrigado!