Looking at modern man, I am often saddened by how weak he has become. I’m not talking about the physical abilities of today’s male population or the fact that today’s young, male generation has a dangerously low testosterone level, although that is a problem in itself. I’m talking about the mentality of the modern man, and how I hate to see so many of my fellow Scandinavians turning into weak-willed individuals who can wouldn’t have been able to speak up for themselves even if their lives depended upon it. I’m living among cowed people and I think my Viking ancestors are looking at us, shaking their heads, wondering how this could have happened.
I see this happening everywhere. Dumbed down and pacified by tv entertainment, too much food and the lack of intellectual challenges, modern man has become so disconnected with nature and his true nature that I no longer can relate to his way of life. Even if I’m in the middle of a camp of Viking reenactors, where maybe you should expect to see some Viking spirit, I often feel this. Some Viking reenactors treat the Viking Age as nothing but a reason to go to a fancy dress party and get drunk, but I guess that’s a topic for another blogpost. For a long time now, I have been looking into the Viking psyche, trying to understand what makes a Viking and what makes a Viking so different from modern man, and I think it all comes down to one crucial personal trait.
Yes, it’s all about integrity.
Or rather, how modern man doesn’t even seem to grasp the concept of integrity, while it was THE single most important trait for any Norseman.
Integrity is what separates a man or a woman from a coward or maybe I should say a niding, and it really does stand out when you read the sagas as the single most important trait for any man — or woman — during the Viking Age. I believe that is why I have been drawn to the Viking way of life for as long as I remember. Before I even knew what integrity was, I found strength in the old, Norse myths and that kept my back straight during some challenging childhood years. Furthermore, forcing yourself to stay up and look any bully in the eyes, does something to you. Anyone who has endured bullying and fought back can tell you that. It makes you hard, sometimes too hard. But no matter what kind of person you become once you’ve made the choice to always fight back, you will be a person with integrity.
So what is integrity? It is actually not the ability to do what is right even if you’re the only one doing it. It is the absolute impossibility to do anything else than what you believe is right. Is it the commitment to keep your eyes on the target and to follow your path, not matter what. I spent 21 years and wrote 16 novels before I published a bestseller here in Norway (Jomsviking), but I told my publishers every single time I offered them a new manuscript that I would become a bestselling author. It didn’t matter that some of them laughed at me. They’re not laughing now.
With integrity comes the absolute disregard for what other people think of you. The idea that I should care about other people’s personal opinions of me, actually disgusts me. Integrity defines you more than any other personal trait and in modern society, it sets you apart. I wear the hammer of Thor around my neck, since I believe that hammer symbolizes integrity. My Thor’s hammer was given to me by my friends at Grimfrost and I believe a Thor’s hammer should only be worn by people who take their integrity seriously. I know it’s fashionable now, but to me, that hammer represents a set of values and a belief system which differs from the norms of modern society in many ways, some of them provocatively so. And I really think that anyone who are not okay with that belief system should not wear the hammer of Thor.
I know some people just want to live their lives in the mainstream. People are different and I accept that. However, I will not ask anyone to accept me or my way of life. Acceptance is neither necessary or desirable for a Norseman. As a Norseman, you never apologize for who you are and you don’t care about approval. This may seem harsh, but as a Norseman, I really don’t care if it does. Being a Norseman and a Viking isn’t for anyone and I am disgusted when I see modern man trying to adapt it into something that will fit his political agenda, his naive world view and his impotent way of life. Such trivial matters are for trivial people. We Norsemen live for the only thing that is left when we leave this world: The memory of who we were and how we lived our lives.
-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen