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Mark Peach
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The fine line between equality and suppression

17 June 2014, 05:00

"You are not to think you are anything special. You are not to think you are as good as we are. You are not to convince yourself that you are better than we are. You are not to think you are more important than we are. You are not to think you are good at anything. You are not to think anyone cares about you.

These are six of the 10 commandments that make up the Law of Jante, a concept created by the Danish-Norwegian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel, “A Fugitive Crosses His Tracks.”

The Law described the mentality of a community in which everyone controls everyone else, the collective suffocates the individual and the price of individual freedom is ostracism."

These are words written by Norwegian writer, Karl Ove Knausgaarden in his essay : "I am someone, look at me."

Knausgaarden intends the words as a description of the Nordic culture he grew into, but what struck me was the application these words could have, or the likelihood that these words could reflect the inner thoughts of so many of us in this country.

The fine line between a culture that preserves equality, and one which is suppressive is unnerving.

Doesn't the "superior" person think along these lines: "don't think you are special; as good as me, better than me, more important than me, good at anything, or that anyone cares for you."

Haven't we all heard some people use words similar to these to hammer someone else into the ground?

So what makes the difference between evolving a Nordic culture that guarantees equality, or wants to, and the same thoughts being used to blunt someone on the anvil of our own superiority?

It has to be a regard for the other" and their manifest gifts. Surely. When we have lost that regard, what do we have?

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