The Law of Jante

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1. You’re not to think you are anything special.

2. You’re not to think you are as good as we are.

3. You’re not to think you are smarter than we are.

4. You’re not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.

5. You’re not to think you know more than we do.

6. You’re not to think you are more important than we are.

7. You’re not to think you are good at anything.

8. You’re not to laugh at us.

9. You’re not to think anyone cares about you.

10. You’re not to think you can teach us anything.

Axel Sandemose in A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks, 1933

Sadness is not an enemy – it’s a strength

When people around us are sad, we try to cheer them up. At best, everybody should be smiling and happy, we think, and they should always do such things that people do when they are happy – sing, dance, drink, play golf, go to the theater, whatever.

Human beings are equipped with many skills. Some of them are physical, others of a more psychological nature. If you by accident put your hand on a hot boiler plate, your combined physical and psychological skills will make you quickly drag your hand away, thereby limiting the damage. The conseived physical pain will then last for some time, forcing you to rest your hand and allow for it to heal and make you consider how to deal with hot boiler plates in the future. The physical pain will help you in several ways.

Mental pain serves the same purpose. If you have experienced a loss, you will feel sad. That should force you into a situation where you get a better overview of your feelings, your knowledge, and your preferred way forwards. An example is when someone close to you dies. You might have had many things in common, many shared activities in life, and the period of sorrow and sadness that follows your loss will help you understand that now this is over – and let you gradually find a new way forward, where the old way remains as a memory.

My mother, who died recently, was very clear about it: “It is good to be sad sometimes. It is necessary in order to be a complete person. Hiding the sadness or trying to remove it with medicine or the like will just mean that certain things never get thought through, never will be dealt with. The problems will remain, now only hidden”. She was very wise.

Recently the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo experienced a terrible episode of terrorist madness and the death of many employees in a deed that must have been a truly shocking experience for everyone. But on TV a spokesman from the paper told with a big smile that they were not sad, that the newspaper would continue as usual, etc., as if this was simply just one of those small problems that appear every day.

This is how we (men) show strength – by pretending that we are completely unaffected by whatever has hit us. By not admitting our loss, not showing our sadness. Maybe that man on TV made this statement to show the terrorists and their sponsors that they had not won. In the honor of the lost colleagues, who by that would become kind of soldiers who died for a good cause, rather than victims of the bad guys’ superior strength.

What probably would have shown more strength was – sadness. Open and admitted. The display of the strength to deal with the problem rather than ignoring it. I am not blaming the man for saying the wrong thing. On the contrary, I feel with him and I can imagine how terrible it must be for him and his remaining colleagues to have been part of such a drama.

But it might be that people in similar situations would do better with having feelings, and showing that they have them, and acting upon them in a proper way, thereby showing true superiority over the aggressors who only had simple violence on their repertoire. And it would probably help the victims better find their way forward again.

There’s always another horizon

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There’s always another horizon behind the one in sight

There’s always a reason for hoping that things will come out right…

There’s always another tomorrow for those with faith to see

The promise beyond the horizon of happy days to be.

Patience Strong

What is Normal? Tradition?

Recent years have seen a shift in acceptance in many Western countries with regards to accepting people with different sexual orientation and allowing them similar rights as others – like gay marriages, for instance. Also some non-western countries have at times been moving in that direction, like when Nepal recently announced that they would put a third choice of gender in passports, as mentioned by Reuters/Yahoo News a couple of days ago, making it possible for a Nepalese to be either male, female, or indeterminate.

But some countries are moving in the opposite direction and most strikingly Russia seems to have moved towards an official policy about what is normal, saying that only a so-called “traditional” lifestyle can be accepted. And apart from simply showing disrespect, as has often been the case towards those who are not considered normal, Russia has made laws regulating their behavior.

A quite absurd level of this harassment by law has now been reached, as it has become forbidden for transsexual and transgender people to obtain a driver’s license. Apparently because homosexuality in Russia is considered a mental disturbance, a personal disorder, that could lead to dangerous behavior. BBC News Europe wrote about this recently.

The absurdity becomes obvious when visiting Russia and seeing how people drive. I guess that ruling out one minority from being on the roads will allow for a little extra space for the others, but honestly, if the purpose was to make driving safer, many other precautions should be considered first: the technical condition of vehicles is by large miserable, traffic police is corrupt, speeds are too high on crowded roads and there seems to be an “order of social level” applied to rights in the traffic, meaning that some people are holding back while others are making their way.

What is the most interesting here is how the world has been split – that one part is moving in one direction and another part in the other direction. But maybe there are good reasons for this – in the West, we are fed up with traditions to a degree where we now want changes, in Russia all traditions were either lost or seriously challenges with the fall of the Soviet Union, and in times of crisis people might seek back to something they can share as a common identity.

We have seen this phenomena many times through history, around the world – each time leading to trouble. The Cambodian genocide was an extreme case, as was for instance various waves of witch-hunt, and the Hitler-German idea of cleaning up the Aryan race. But the hunt for a common identity is almost always leading to discrimination of minorities.

Howling with the flock and perhaps killing odd individuals seems to be a normal behavior for the human species, while respect for the individual and acceptance of differences seems to be less normal. Or maybe each of these extremes are just end points of a pendulum, meaning that we can be certain that whatever is the rule now, will change into the opposite later?

Wooden Toys is the Future – Again

Today it was announced that the Swedish toy maker Brio had been sold to the German toy maker Ravensburger. Brio is known for wooden toys, something that was on its way out ten years ago but which is now again in fashion. Computer games didn’t take over children’s world of playing entirely, as was predicted by many just a few years ago, all non-computer game production being then moved to Asia.

Now, however, the pendulum is swinging back, says Radio Sweden – classic toys are again popular and are again being produced in Europe and the USA.

Source: Toymaker Brio bought by German firm

Cars in China Today: What does this little picture say to you?

There is definitely a pendulum moving towards more consumption – when will it reach its maximum and start moving back? And what will be the trigger?

World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities

This little picture gives us a few ideas about cars in China today.  Important if we bear in mind that today is the first day of the future.

China traffic third Beling ring road - all new and clean

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Seasons in the Sun

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This song came out when I was 10, it was me and my best friend Sam Statler’s favorite song. We listened to it over and over. Sam Died at 16 years old in a car wreck; I always think of him every time I hear it. I am 50 now, and if I have learned anything, its that life really does go in seasons, the seasons in the sun are for sure the best ones. Very Special Song
Rob H (comment on YouTube)