Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tall Puppy

OK, it's not really "Tall Puppy" it's "Tall Poppy". But it's much funnier to imagine a really tall puppy - in fact, it's hard to imagine a tall puppy. But....I digress.

I'm reading the novel "The Zahir" by Paulo Coelho (a fave author of Pink Lady's). He mentions something called "the Law of Jante". I became immediately very interested and googled it. The law is first mentioned in a novel by Aksel Sandemose called "A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks" (1933). It is, however, believed that this unwritten law is in effect thoughout Scandinavia and also in some other societies - especially those that claim to be egalitarian. Being Scandinavian myself (from Finland), yet having lived in many other countries as well (see previous post), I inately recognized this "law" and felt that it is still very much in effect in Finland.

Finnish movie director and producer Renny Harlin, who nowadays lives in Hollywood and makes movies there, has said that one of the reasons he left Finland is because our society does not want anyone to be too successful (or something along those lines).

Here is the Jante Law (from Wikipedia):

1. Don't think you are anything. (Du skal ikke tro du er noget.)
2. Don't think you are as good as us. (Du skal ikke tro du er lige så meget som os.)
3. Don't think you are smarter than us. (Du skal ikke tro du er klogere end os.)
4. Don't fancy yourself better than us. (Du skal ikke bilde dig ind du er bedre end os.)
5. Don't think you know more than us. (Du skal ikke tro du ved mere end os.)
6. Don't think you are greater than us. (Du skal ikke tro du er mere end os.)
7. Don't think you are good for anything. (Du skal ikke tro du dur til noget.)
8. Don't laugh at us. (Du skal ikke le ad os.)
9. Don't think that anyone cares about you. (Du skal ikke tro nogen bryder sig om dig.)
10. Don't think you can teach us anything. (Du skal ikke tro, at du kan lære os noget.)

A friend of mine has said that the best way for a Finnish woman to be popular and liked by other Finnish women is to put herself down, e.g. by saying that her thighs are fatter than those of her friend, that she is less pretty than her friend etc. If you doubt the truth of this, try the opposite and see how popular you will be... ;-) Many Finnish women are also constantly putting down their husbands. It's as if they are an extension of themselves.

One of the biggest sins in Finland seems to be pride - we say that one should not praise one's children or they will "become proud". Envy is also one of the common characteristic of Finnish society. There is an old joke about this:

"A Russian and an American find themselves in the exact same predicament: their neighbour has a nicer car than they do. The American decides to work extra hard in order to make more money so he can buy an even better car. The Russian waits until it is dark and then vandalizes his neighbour's car. That'll teach him!"

Especially laws 7 and 9 are horrendous - yet that is the idea that many people have of themselves. Finland has a very high suicide rate (it is similar to former Soviet Block countries). Perhaps one reason for this is that too many people really believe laws 7 and 9, i.e. "Don't think you are good for anything" and "Don't think that anyone cares about you". If you really believe this about yourself, what is there indeed left to live for?

I truly hope that you don't believe these laws. In fact, I think we need new laws. So here they are.

Pink Lady's Law:

1. Know that you are amazing and unique. There has never been and never will be anyone quite like you in the history of the universe.
2. Know that you are just as good as everyone else - if not better.
3. Know that everyone is good at something and that there are many different kinds of talent, skill and intelligence. Know also that emotional intelligence is a much more important indicator of success and happiness than IQ. And know that emotional intelligence is not something that you are born with but something that can be developed and improved.
4. Know that we are all equal. There is richness in our diversity. Know that it is OK for someone to be better at something than others. Everyone should develop the very thing that they are already good at instead of trying to improve the skills that they are not so good at. Find your area of strength and make it even stronger.
5. You are allowed to learn as much as you wish. But never forget that stupidity and ignorance are two different things: just because you don’t know something, does not mean that you are stupid. Know that you can learn whatever you need to in order to achieve your dreams.
6. Everyone is amazing and can be as great as he or she chooses to be. Everyone can make a difference. It only takes one person to change the course of history.
7. The universe would not be the same without you. Decide what kind of difference you wish your presence here on Earth to make – it is all up to you.
8. Let’s all laugh together.
9. First and foremost, love yourself unconditionally. If you care about yourself, others will also come to care about you. On the other hand, never be afraid of making a fool of yourself – others are too concerned about what others think of them to even notice. And keep in mind that anyone who ever does something truly new and innovative risks ridicule - but who cares? If someone laughs it is only because they believe the other laws, Jante's laws.
10. We can all learn something from one another. Everyone has something to give. Younger generations can teach the older ones and vice versa. We can learn the most from those who are different from us.

Pink Lady has spoken

Photo from Free Digital Photos.


Hanneles paradis said...

Jantelaki, monet sen mukaan elänneet, naiset.

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