This blue marble

– and yet it spins

The law of Jante

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saltholmenGliding over deserted Saltholmen island towards Copenhagen airport I think of how this flat country requires equal flatness of expectations. All peaks of success are evened out – and so are the lows. If you are good student you are expected to help those who are not equally successful. If you become rich you are expected to pay for it. Celebrating success is not encouraged, and neither is standing out as a total failure.

Once upon a time in a Norwegian book there was a Danish little village called Jante. The people of Jante abide by a number of laws which all boil down to one thing: you are not better or worse than anybody else. Do not expect it – nobody else does, either. Just fit in and you will be fine.

In the midst of this competitive world, in the heart of every Dane there lives a little villager from Jante. And not a month passes that I do not wonder whether the Norwegian author mistook the location of the village: the law of Jante ensnares the Finnish spirit, too.

As we float past the Öresund bridge rising from the bottom of the sea I wonder if it would be possible to keep the cake and eat it, too? What if we decided to keep the supportive lifting towards the mean for those who need help, and allow celebrating success and individuality? Why should the mean be the limit when it is possible to reach the stars?

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2015)

 

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