The Impact of the Laws of Jante

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So unknown, and still so omnipresent across borders and cultures, and seemingly so widely accepted, even though confronted with the law, probably nobody will admit to it. The Danish/Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose put it on paper in his novel A Fugitive Crosses the Tracks (Sandemose 1933).

It is a story about the crippling affect of social conditioning referred to in the novel as Jante Law. This work is very familiar to those who grew up in Scandinavia, as Sandemose hails from and lived in that area. The story focuses on the effect of a theory summed up in a series of proclamations, or rules, known as Jante Law, that are ingrained in the minds of residents of a small town. These rules seek to not just level the playing field for everyone but stifle any growth or prevent any break from the conventional wisdom and customs as they relate to this small community based on the author’s hometown. The Laws of Jante are as follows:

Do not believe you are something.
Do not believe you are as good as us.
Do not believe you are wiser than us.
Do not fancy yourself better than us.
Do not believe you know more than us.
Do not believe you are greater than us.
Do not believe you amount to anything.
Do not laugh at us.
Do not believe anyone cares about you.
Do not believe you can teach us anything.

This is an example of the type of mind-set that creeps into people’s subconscious and prevents them from charting their own course.

Why is it so? Why is it so important for family, society, and government to mold everybody into conformity?  We come into this world as unique human beings. As soon as we are born, the molding process starts. Never mind the shape you come in, you’re destined to fit into the same hole.  Parents, grandparents. Look at your brother, listen to your mom, this is how we do it around here, thank you very much. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Comply with social norms. Then society takes over through pre-school and the school system. Grow up; get yourself an education and a secure job. Government kicks in through laws, procedures, systems and taxes. Trying to keep everybody conform. Earl Nightingale says that the opposite of courage is not cowardness, it is conformity. So why is it so present when it is so dangerous. Even in the USA, the land of possibilities and individualisms it is creeping in.

Dictators of course love the idea, probably under the cover of being protective, which of course is just a hidden agenda, it is just a way of keeping everybody down.

So why all this squareness with little room for individuality? Is it an effort of over protectiveness; we don’t want anyone to loose, fall outside of society. Or are we afraid to see others win, looking in our own mirror only to see someone not daring to break out?

As it is, the Law of Jante syndrome has turned out to be a very present part of us, which is sad as it to a very large extent prohibits development. Think how much this world could have thrived if what is expressed through the Law of Jante was not allowed to have such an impact on society, on the life of the individual.

Jan Peter Aursnes is the author of the book "Unlock Your Future: The Key to a Fulfilling Life," a transition coach and owner of Quantum Leaps Consulting, LLC. With a degree in management sciences from the University of Manchester, England, Mr. Aursnes has 27 years experience in the corporate world, mainly from the food and beverage industries and with special experience in organizational turn-around and down sizing all done in a transitional way rather as abrupt changes. He has also worked for the International Red Cross as a delegate in the Republic of Georgia. Jan Peter Aursnes is a native Norwegian but currently lives in West Palm Beach, Florida with his wife and two children. He is a true connoisseur with a special interest for wine and cheese and the pairing of the two. He also knows his coffee very well. His focus is on helping individuals and companies with transitional processes. To contact Jan Peter Aursnes call 561-868-1815 or visit http://peteraursnes.com

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