Friday, October 12, 2007

Back to basics (5): The Law of Jante

In one of his last books* Paulo Coelho explains to the reader the meaning of the “Law of Jante”, first introduced by the Scandinavian writer Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel A Fugitive Crossing His Tracks. In short the Law of Jante means something along the lines of “You are worthless; no one is interested in what you think, therefore you had better opt for mediocrity and anonymity. Do this and you will never face any major problems in life.” Coelho continues by saying “that it is thanks to the Law of Jante that the world has been manipulated in all kinds of ways by people who often end up achieving their own evil ends; we see the great gap between rich and poor, see social injustice, violence and people who are forced to give up their dreams.”

What will happen a couple of generations from now when people will look back at the beginning of the new millennium? Will they realize that civil society, business and politics, although knowing all the facts that have been presented by the IPCC and clearly communicated by leaders like Al Gore, haven’t really done enough to prevent climate change, so that everything got worse and made life impossible in many areas of the planet, causing huge migration waves and decimation of humankind by until then unknown diseases that appeared because of an immense number of people living on very limited space in megacities of 50 million citizens and bigger? Will they simply say “well, blame it on the Law of Jante?”

I prefer Paulo Coelho’s proposal to create an “Anti-Law of Jante” to prevent things from getting worse: “You are worth much more than you think. Your work and your presence on this earth are important. Of course, such ideas could land you in a lot of trouble breaking the Law of Jante, but don’t be intimidated. Continue to live without fear, and you will triumph in the end.”

With Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri (for the IPCC) receiving this year’s Nobel Prize for Peace the Nobel Committee in Stockholm has sent a clear wake-up call to the world today: let’s not allow this to happen. All necessary information is transparent; let’s fight the Law of Jante now!

We in GRI are proud of having had the chance to hear Al Gore at the first GRI Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency in 2006 and are already looking forward to the second conference in May 2008 when Mr. Pachauri will be with us.

* Paulo Coelho: Like a flowing river, HarperCollins Publisher, 2006

16 comments:

aart hilal said...

Hello!
I'm also a big Paulo Coelho fan and I don't know if you’ve heard about his blog
http://www.paulocoelhoblog.com
I started as a fan and now I'm collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
Check out the blog, if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter
http://www.warriorofthelight.com/engl/index.html

You'll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Only those who find life find treasures."

See you there and have a great day!
Aart

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