As always, the only thing linking the two items mentioned in this post in my mind is that they both start with the same letter of the alphabet.
… by which I’m not just referring to Christmas (and Advent) generally, but specifically to the Scandinavian Christmas traditions with their focus on comfort and lighting up the winter darkness:
- Hygge — everything comfort and cozy (blankets , comfortable socks and cuddly kitties, anybody?),
- Yule logs — not the cake but the real thing; December is the one month of the year when I wish I had a fireplace,
- St. Lucia’s Day — even more so than Advent, it’s all about light,
- And of course Jólabókaflóð: leave it to the descendants of the people who gave us the Eddas and Sagas to come up with a way to make Christmas all about books!
And I have to confess that I also get a kick out of the Gävle Goat phenomenon — one Swedish town’s take on combining Germanic legend (Thor’s goat-drawn chariot) and Santa’s reindeer-drawn sleigh; at this point, definitely no longer just a local or national but a veritable international Christmas symbol, with its own Twitter and Instagram accounts — and ever since we first introduced the Gävle Goat guess in the 24 Festive Tasks game, the game’s participants have been avid followers of the Gävle Goat’s annual destiny.
And here’s the expression that all of the above finds in my home (and my world)!
This one, I suppose, is a given with anybody who puts a premium on individuality and vision, and has a deep dislike of crowds. There is a reason why I don’t do well in large organizations, particularly not in pronounced vertically-structured ones: they almost invariably foster a “yes man” culture that rewards conformity and following orders, to the point that advancement has comparatively little to do with substantive knowledge, ability or initiative, and a lot with self-presentation and being in “the good books” of the right people — and that type of setting just goes against the grain of everything I am.
At its worst, a “yes man” culture sounds, sooner or later, the death knell to any organization or other body where it prevails, but even if things don’t go quite as far, the organization / body in question will invariably underperform and be kept alive chiefly by a host of “worker ants” who keep their head down and focus on doing their daily job, instead of trying to look ahead, assume responsibility, truly “own” their work, and think outside the box. By the same token, the prevalence of a “yes man” culture, particularly in politics and in the world of business, is obviously part and parcel of the loss of leadership vision — if people grow up in a culture where being of good standing with the right persons further up the food chain is more important than thinking ahead for yourself, how can you possibly expect them to learn to take responsibility? Rather, this is precisely the sort of culture that fosters would-be-“leaders” who check where the wind is blowing before moving to the front of the crowd and pretending to leadership by yelling “follow me.” And of course, this is also the type of culture that fosters dictatorships and all that they bring with them: corruption, the ruthless fleecing of the common weal by a select few, the loss of freedom, government by lies and propaganda, and more often than not, war. But even on a less obviously destructive level, no “yes men” structure will ever be able to hold its own long-term, and will always end up having the short end of the stick as compared to a structure allowing for individual responsibility and creative dissent. And I’ve never felt less inclined to ever go near any such structure again than in the years since I first struck out (professionally) on my own.
(Image sources here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here)