Janteloven.

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – One of the best reasons why I love Denmark and why I have been to Copenhagen twice in less than a year is my dear friend, Marie. I met Marie in Manila almost a decade ago and since then we never failed to communicate despite our distance then. We immediately clicked on our first outing in Manila. We watched The Vagina Monologues and we never stopped laughing since then. With Marie there is simply no dull moments. You can talk to her about anything and everything under the sun. When I visited Marie and her husband, Henrik, in December, she lent me a book about some interesting facts about the Danes. One of these is Janteloven -the law of Jante.

I have read somewhere that Janteloven is not exclusively Danish. It is a pattern of group behavior among the Scandinavian communities Janteloven for Norwegians and Danes; Jantelagen for Swedes; Janten lakifor the Finns; and, Jantulóginfor the Faorese. It negatively portrays and criticizes success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate.

It has been observed as a form of behaviour for centuries, but an author identified it as a series of rules, the Jante Law, in his novel En flyktning krysser sitt spor, 1933, English translation published in the USA in 1936, A fugitive crosses his tracks. Aksel Sandemose’s novel portrays the small Danish town Jante where nobody is anonymous.

Others see it negatively but I believe if everyone will start adhering to Janteloven then life would be less complicated and harmonious at the same time.

The term may be used by those individuals who feel they are not allowed to take credit for their achievements, or to point out their belief that another person is being overly critical.

1. You must believe everybody is somebody.

2. You must believe everyone is as important as everyone else.

3. You may  be cleverer, but that does not make you a better person.

4. You must believe everyone is as good as you.

The word “Probably” in Carlsberg slogan is an example that I could think of. Carlsberg is a Danish brand.

5. You must believe everyone knows something worth knowing.

6. You must think of everyone as your equal.

7. You must believe everyone can be good at something.

8. You must not laugh at others.

Laughing at something is good. But laughing at someone is another matter.

9. You must think everyone is equally caring about.

They don’t demand too much but they also deserve our respect and attention.

10. You can learn something from everyone.

Raise your flag. Wave your flag. One of those things that I learned in my visit is the pride of one’s national flag and identity. But raising the flag could mean many things in Denmark. Just the same, the sense of pride is felt.

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