Thursday, 31 December 2015

King Harald of Norway's New Year's Address - English Translation

The Poet Kolbein Falkeid writes:

"Folk jeg var glad i
har gått foran og kvistet løype
De var skogskarer og fjellvante.
Jeg finner nok frem."

"The people I loved
have gone ahead and marked the ski trails
They were knew the forests and the mountains
I find my way forward."

Our days pass into months - that turns into a year. Thus the years live. It is in the every day that life is lived. And for most people in Norway it is a good life.

Sometimes, one can still feel alone. Maybe you lost someone, or perhaps one stands in front of an important choice. This may make your stance a little shaky, and you do not know where your next step should be.

If you look back, you can easily balance. How can the past - who have marked the slopes - helping us to find our way?

I will therefore speak about this tonight.

Norway is regarded by many as the best country to live in. We score high on international rankings of living standards in the world. We have a good welfare system - and the vast majority of people have a job to go to and confidence in daily life. But it has not always been.

This year we have marked 70 years since peace came to Norway - after five years of war and occupation. A number of events were held to commemorate the end of World War 2. Several of which the Royal Family has attended.

The markings have given us an opportunity to look back - and in some cases allow us to put today's society in perspective.

For it can be easy to forget that only 70 years ago parts of our country lay in ruins. Many returned to broken homes, and several came as refugees. With assistance from the Marshall Aid, we built the country after the war. The Norwegian effort created gleaming new home and a working life, in need of many hands.

Over the decades, we have developed a model of society we can be proud of - with low unemployment and a labor market in which people work well together. In the late 1960s, we found oil in the North Sea.

Wise politicians and visionary leaders created a sensible framework surrounding the management of the large new resource.

The sum of all this is a generous welfare state everyone can enjoy.

Benefits we now take for granted, has not always been obvious. We have also experienced adversity and faced challenges. Together, we have tried to concur these adversities and challenges.

70 years may seem long ago, but for many of us living today, it's as if it were yesterday.

The way is broken up by milestones; signs showing the limits. They are a symbol that something is ending and something else is beginning.

"Fortidens beste gave er erindringen om at vi har en fremtid/ The past's best gift is the memory that we have a future," sociologist Michael Young said.

In the old days, milestones were also sightlines; a place where you could plot the course.

In a human life, milestones often occasions dealing with important events: a child's birth, marriage, a new home. They are life events that give us direction, new hope and get us closer to our dreams. Different kinds of milestone will make your life.

One of my most important milestones was laid in 1991. My father, King Olav V, passed away during the night of January 17, 1991, and I became king. In the dark January night nearly 25 years ago, the Palace Square filled with light. People came from near and far to commemorate a beloved king.

My royal duties started with a sense of community. The warmth of a whole nation embraced our family and gave us strength in a difficult time. Meanwhile, it is with great humility that I stepped into a line of revered kings before me. This year we will mark the 25th anniversary and it gives us a chance for reflection and contemplation.

Norway has in these years experienced unprecedented prosperity. Our country substantial access to energy and ocean treasures has given us great riches. Nevertheless, it is not natural resources alone that has given us opportunities - but to a greater extent our common human resources.

Because many are participating in the labor market and thus contribute to the community, we are together helping to create prosperity to benefit all.

Many people today are concerned about how the future will look like. In recent times we have several areas that are changing - as a nation and as individuals. It is okay to be upset, and express it.

Norway is closely linked to other countries. How can events on the other side of the globe have significant consequences our day to day lives at home. Some occupational industries are threatened, and the employee can have serious consequences. We have recently heard of layoffs in several places.

I would think that many tonight are concerned about what happens to their work in the future.

Human drama we see every day in the faces of all those trying to find a safe haven in Norway. Many fleeing terror in their homeland. Autumn's horrific events in Paris and other big cities have been dreadful reminders that values our society was built on, are under threat. Terrorism knows no borders, and the goal is to create fear in the population. The terrorists want to rob us of life - our life. We will fight - with different agents. Where terrorists are attacking our lives with bombs, our best defense, however, is to use our values as weapons.

In the background for today's great themes, hangs the threat of climate change. From Alaska to Antarctica, I've even seen some of the consequences.

Fortunately, there are bright spots. The international community's effort to reach an agreement at the climate summit in Paris, ended considerably better than many had feared. Now begins the laborious work for a healthier planet.

We may have different opinions about how we should handle our common challenges. Nevertheless, it is important that we can talk about the tasks, because we are all affected by them. If we look back, we remember that we have been through difficult times before.

We mobilize the opposition. Norway is perhaps a small country, but together we have accomplished great things.

Our resources gives us significant opportunities - and also great responsibility. Pippi Longstocking says: "He who is very strong must also be very kind." Many take on this responsibility. I will mention two examples:

After the terrorist attacks against Jews in Paris and Copenhagen at the beginning of the year, a group of young Norwegian Muslims created a ring of protection around the synagogue in Oslo. It was a simple and very dramatic action that showed courage and dedication to care about others.

This autumn's major refugee flow have come up close and personal to our lives. Throughout our continent, countries are experiencing a major challenge trying to find a good way to help refugees.

Many people across the country have collected and handed out clothes and food, taught them Norwegian and opened their homes to those who need it. It was a spontaneous action - and an expression of compassion. Treating them as human beings and building communities.

I will tonight give a special thanks to the Norwegians who are in other countries to help people in need, and contributing to efforts to achieve peace and stability. Women and men in the armed forces, police, diplomatic and humanitarian operations and organizations doing important work we can all be proud of.

My thoughts tonight also goes to the families and those affected by avalanche accident in Svalbard, right before Christmas. Volunteers and relief agencies have done a great deal to help those affected.

When the Royal Family visits around the country, we are struck by people's enthusiasm and commitment. Communities are built in a country populated by people with visions and thoughts that Norway will someday be left to our grandchildren. I am therefore optimistic. If we can still be true to, and can still develop our values - such as trust, community and generosity - we can still create a good society for all.

We have this fall been able to follow a TV series called Datoen/Date. It shows the life stories of famous and not so famous people. It states: "Alt starter et sted. En dato. Og så kommer alt dette andre./ Everything starts somewhere. A date. And then come all these other things. "

Often it is the case - we know not what will come. Soon we will enter a new number in the calendar.

Together we will experience the ups and downs, sorrows and joys. Each individual will experience new milestones in their life; days that we take with us the rest of your life. Some moments we choose, others chose us. Nonetheless, I hope that we together, in one year, you look back and think that the year was good.

We are all in a line. Some went ahead. Others come behind. Let's take care of each other and make the best of every moment.

We will find our way forward.

I wish every one of you a happy New Year!

2015 Christmas/ New Years Addresses

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