I'm going to talk about this law from a Norwegian perspective.

The ten rules state:

  1. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you are anything.
  2. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you are as good as anyone.
  3. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you are smarter than anyone.
  4. You shall never ever under any circumstance imagine yourself better than anyone.
  5. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you know something that everyone else don't already know.
  6. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you are more important than anyone.
  7. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you are good at anything.
  8. You shall never ever under any circumstance laugh at anything that is established.
  9. You shall never ever under any circumstance think anyone cares about you.
  10. You shall never ever under any circumstance think you can teach us anything.

 

During Childhood

Knowing these rules are important to understand how people treat you in the lands of the north. These rules was made up to explain the flaws of the Norwegian and Danish psyche. The author did not expect that Nordic people would romanticize them and apply these laws as universal principles. These rules have become the ten commandments of the north and is much more important than anything else. 

I experienced these rules at first hand when I was in school. When I was 6 years old I wanted to start an organization for me my classmates and everyone who would join. It was like a "boy"scouts thing where we would go on trips and stuff. My passion to organize things for others and contribute to society was large. When I presented this idea to my then friend he laughed at me. Not only that, he told people at school and they bullied me with it for years. The stupid was so annoying. I got comments like this 7 years later: "HA haha . Remember Per Erik want's to start a club. hahahaha".

I think this is because it broke the laws 1, and 7. I thought that I was capable of organizing something that everyone would benefit from. Also because of rule 9. it was impossible for them to imagine I cared about them. These kind of things discouraged me from trying anything or having any kind of passions. I did not really know about the Jante law by then and I was just a kid so I could not peace it together.

During teens/adulthood

The Jante law is consistently applied to all facets of society In most places, but there are exceptions. The only times you are kind of allowed to organize something is in the Russ-time (which is the half month long graduation ceremony for college) and when you enter university, much of the things are organized by students.

When I was wrestling and started loosing the interest in wrestling, I wanted to continue contributing the the club. The club didn't have a website, so I created a website and suggested they could use it. They frowned at me. I did not have a diploma so I was not allowed to be able to make a website. Even thou I had already constructed one. But they had to admit that the club needed a website. 

Naturally the information on the website needed to be updated with new schedules. But the club never did because no one knew how to operate the website and they could not give me access to the website. I was being a coach for free when the coach was sick and I was representing the club in the national team. But, since you are not allowed to know anything or be interested in anything unless it's exactly what people want you to. I could not have any access to anything.

I felt like I was held back and that the club was overrun by adults, with a culture where learning anything was illegal. And I could not under any circumstances do things that I was interested in. I found myself a job that paid money instead and slowly the community around the club also dispersed. I left the town to study, but I did not return to the club when I got home.

My desires was breaking the law number 8. Websites are supposed to come from the established companies and cannot under any circumstance be made by a person. It breaks law 2. Of course a passionate person who burns for that specific cause, cannot under any circumstance be as good as a paid employee. Law 3 and 4 Using a tried and proven concept that is not used in the area, by it's professionals; cannot be used. It would potentially be outsmarting them and thus also risk being better than them and it would by law 5. also imply that you know something that they don't.

Lets end it on a bright note

When I was at the university me and some other students started a club for our major. We where a group that was not Jante facists where everyone could contribute what they wanted. This club held soccer tournaments where we raised money trough selling waffles. It paid for rent and at the end it accumulated enough money for us to go on a big skiing trip. We also held quizzes with questions that was relevant to the subjects we where studying at a bar.

When I was in this club organization I contributed with a website that held all the events and with writing information on the Facebook page. On the website I had a text section where people could post their notes from the classes or studies. And a dictionary that was specific for that course specifically. So people could post a definition of words we learned in class. Because wikipedia was not so big back then, the website started getting a lot of traffic from people studying similar things around the country. The website got 800 daily guests at one point and it was probably good publicity for the university to. It was a lot of fun. I wish it was allowed to do this outside universities as well.

I guess you could summarize the Jante laws in it's current form. You are not to do anything fun or useful, unless you do it so poorly that everyone else can do it. Do not stray from the norms in any way, shape or form. If someone believes they can do something, beat them into the ground before they prove you wrong.

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