Tall Poppy Syndrome


(clarification requested by many worldwide)

Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term used in Australia and New Zealand to describe what is seen as a levelling social attitude pushed to the point of bad behaviour. Someone is said to have tall poppy syndrome when they are envious, defamatory, or overly critical of someone else because of their assuming a higher economic, social or political position.

The term originates from accounts in Aristotle’s Politics (Book 5, Chapter 10) and Livy’s History of Rome, Book I. Aristotle wrote: “Periander advised Thrasybulus by cutting off the tops of the tallest ears of corn, meaning that he must always put out of the way the citizens who overtop the rest.” In Livy’s account, the Roman tyrant, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, received a messenger from his son Sextus asking what he should do next in Gabii, since he had become all-powerful there. Rather than answering the messenger, Tarquinius went into his garden, took a stick, and symbolically swept it across his garden, thus cutting off the heads of the tallest poppies that were growing there. The messenger, tired of waiting for an answer, returned to Gabii and told Sextus what happened, who realised that his father wished him to put to death all the most eminent people of Gabii, which he then did.

Some commentators have argued that tall poppy syndrome may well be a universal phenomenon, accentuated in some cultures. The concept of janteloven, or “Jante law”, in Scandinavia is very similar. Similar phenomena are said to exist in Canada and the Netherlands. The Japanese proverb, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is particularly well known. It could also be said that mediocrity is nearly universally demanded by the mediocre; anyone or anything that will not conform to said mediocrity will generally be called out, ridiculed, abused, and eventually assassinated.

“In this world one must be like everybody else if he doesn’t want to provoke scorn or envy or jealousy.” -Mark Twain

Regardless of what the status quo and lukewarm want YOU to be and do, know this:

“Your playing ‘small’ doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” -LF

“Never forget—the higher we soar, the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”

“By God’s grace I am what I am; and His grace, which [was] towards me, has not been vain; but I have laboured more abundantly than they all, but not I, but the grace of God which [was] with me.” -Paul, by the Spirit of Christ


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