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The impact of the edge law

So unknown, and yet so ubiquitous across borders and cultures, and seemingly so widely accepted, though confronted with the law, no one will probably admit it. Danish/Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose put it into writing in his novel A Fugitive Crosses the Tracks (Sandemose 1933).

It is a story about the crippling effect of social conditioning referred to in the novel as Jante Law. This work is very familiar to those who grew up in Scandinavia, since Sandemose comes from and lived in that area. The story focuses on the effect of a theory encapsulated in a series of proclamations or rules, known as the Jante Law, which are ingrained in the minds of the residents of a small town. These rules seek not only to level the playing field for all, but to stifle any growth or prevent any break with conventional wisdom and custom as it pertains to this small community based in the author’s hometown.

Rim’s Laws are as follows:

Don’t think you are something.
Don’t think you’re as good as us.
Do not think that you are wiser than us.
Don’t think you’re better than us.
Don’t think you know more than us.
Don’t think you are bigger than us.
Do not believe anything.
Don’t laugh at us.
Don’t think that no one cares about you.
Don’t think you can teach us anything.

This is an example of the kind of mindset that creeps into people’s subconscious and prevents them from charting their own course.

Why is this then? Why is it so important for family, society, and government to mold everyone into conformity? We come into this world as unique human beings. As soon as we are born, the molding process begins. No matter which way you come in, you’re bound to fit into the same hole. Parents, grandparents. Look at your brother, listen to your mom, that’s how we do it around here, thank you very much. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Comply with social norms. Then society takes over through the preschool and school system. Growing up; get an education and a secure job. The government intervenes through laws, procedures, systems and taxes. Trying to keep everyone in compliance. Earl Nightingale says that the opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. So why is it so present when it is so dangerous? Even in the United States, the land of possibility and individualism, it is creeping in.

Dictators of course love the idea, probably under the guise of being protectors, which of course is just a hidden agenda, just a way to keep everyone down.

So why all this squareness with little room for individuality? Is it an overprotective effort; we do not want anyone to lose, to be left out of society. Or are we afraid of seeing others win, looking in our own mirror only to see someone who doesn’t dare to blow up?

As it stands, Jante’s Law syndrome has turned out to be a very present part of us, which is sad because it largely prohibits development. Think how much this world could have prospered if what was expressed through Jante’s Law was not allowed to have such an impact on society, on the life of the individual.

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