"Det går ein stor vilje gjennom verden/There is a great will through the world," wrote Åse-Marie Nesse in one of her poems. (Åse-Marie Nesse is a famous Norwegein Poet)
This will get all living to stretch toward the light. It means that we will preferably help when we see someone needing it. It makes most of us wake up to a new day no matter what will meet us.
We live in a time when good will is not always the most visible. We get the impression that the world is marked by conflict, turmoil and contradictions. There are many stories of human cruelty and the suffering it causes to others. It may be easier to feel cold and fear than the warmth and strength.
But precisely becuase of that we need to remind ourselves and each other in the great power that going through the world, living in every human being.
For we encounter it everywhere. We meet this power in the form of people who make an effort for others. We meet it in every single story of a person who ask for help in a difficult situation - and all those who come and helped. We meet it in the personal strength among those who manage to rise and begin a new life. And we meet it in the volunteer spirit on which our country is founded.
Every little community in Norway consists of waffle makers, coffee makers, football coaches, visiting friends, willing hands and big hearts that we could not do without. An elderly lady from Vegårshei I met, put it this way: "Volunteering gives a good feeling - It is one you can not measure."
The core of volunteering is that we do something because we think it is right and important, not for personal or financial gain. With community spirit we have for generations created the foundation we stand on together today. And our strength lies precisely in that we have created it together - with our own hands, we have given of our time, shared our knowledge and commitment.
In Norway, we are fortunate to have a relatively stable economy, solid governance and a society based on a high level of trust. Nevertheless - at this time last year was highly uncertain. The decline in oil industry meant that many were unemployed. For the individual who still lack a job to go to, the situation is still difficult. But as a nation we are seeing a renewed optimism. (Oil is a big export of Norway. In fact, Norway is the 10th biggest Oil Exporter in the world. King Harald touch breifly on the job loss in the oil industry in last years speech.)
It stems from the fact that we were forced to think again.
We have done countless times before in Norway. We have an adaptability that we enjoy in difficult times. Over the past year, I have once again seen great determination and the impressive power of individuals and communities to create new jobs.
I am both happy and optimistic by what I see. It is a useful reminder that in the long term there may also be some good results from the difficult periods.
Of all the resources this country has, people are the greatest wealth. In particular, our children and young people are precious to us. We have great youth - with both knowledge, social responsibility and resilience - who are fully capable of bringing our country into a new era.
At the same time it makes me sad to hear about all the young people who are struggling mentally - and that someone eventually can not bear to live any longer.
The summer, when the Queen and I attended garden party in Maihaugen, a young woman who was working on youth mental health issues. She said, among other things: "I wish for a society where we dare to look each other in the eye and say: Here I am, and I care about you."
I could not agree more. In this simple way, we can actually save lives. Our single most important skill as human beings is the ability to understand how another human being has it.
I've talked a lot about bullying over the years, and I'm not going to give up. Think what it could mean if we just decided that in Norway we will not bully each other!
Everyone has something good in themselves. Even those who bully and harass others - whether through word or deed. The strong will that carries us can also be used for this: deciding to stop bullying. To behave properly with each other. In the same way as those who are bullied choose to stand up to face every a new day - in spite of is to come.
Our country is from ancient times built on strong will for survival and independence. I think nature and history have shaped us as a people. We have had to live with the forces of nature and create life and livelihoods in spite. For several periods we have experienced being under foreign rule - and have had to fight for our freedom. Among other things, it has taught us to protect equality and human rights - at home and abroad. (For more on the several periods of foriegn rule, see note at bottom of page)
We must not forget our story-otherwise we can throw away the freedoms and progress we have meticulously worked for. And we can forget about solidarity with others who are still in the midst of the struggle for fundamental rights.
This also applies to the struggle for equality and for the best interests of the future. This work has been driven by the individual's strong will and perserverance. Eventually, the whole community has supported this work and follows - so together we have come a step further as a nation. But society is constantly changing. And our work is not done. We must be alert so no groups fall behind or is left out. We need both boys and girls, women and men with all backgrounds, experience and personality with us to create a good society where everyone can contribute.
In the poem of Åse-Marie Ness, the great will that goes through the world continues:
"Den lokkar fram vindruer i lavastein
Den let tørstande palmar bere frukt
Den sår solsikkefrø mellom tistlar"
"It lures the grapes in lava stone (Various Wines are produced in Volcanic soil)
The light thirsty hand makes fruit
It sows sunflower seed between thistles"
Creation is full of life that we humans have been given to manage. Knowledge is the key to acting wisely. For the will is there!
The will, among other things, turns into a green technology explosion that is currently under way. Almost no one creates anything anymore without thinking about environmental impact. This is a big advance from a few years back.
We must protect what we hold high in Norwegian society. We must be wary of backlash in areas where men and women have worked for generations to get us where we are today - whether in the struggle for human rights, women's freedom or child safety. Or in terms of the protection of nature or the unity of virtue.
Every human being sees the world and the society we are part of from his own point of view. When we discuss what is to be "Norwegian", it opens for over 5 million different interperetations about who we are. Therefore, it is not surprising that the stories are different and that we emphasize different values.
When you live abroad, your eyesight in Norway becomes extra clear. I will especially greet all those who are in service in other countries this evening.
One of the most important things about Norwegian society may be that for us it is so natural that we almost take it for granted:
That we have peace and freedom,
That everyone has the opportunity,
That we can get another chance when we fail.
It is a hallmark of a society that we are allowed to try and mistake. That we may fall - but still be given new chances by people who want everyone to suceed.
Therefore, on this last day of this year, I will remind all of us that: "Det går ein stor vilje gjennom verden/ There is a great will through the world"
It gives us the courage to fight for what we hold dear.
It means that we stand up again and again.
It gives us strength and wisdom to give each other a chance.
Happy New Year!
Note: The "serveral periods of foreign rule" King Harald was talking about are
Kalmar Union (1397-1523)
- which combined Denmark, Sweden, & Norway under one monarch, which often favored Denmarks intrests over Sweden & Norway
- After Sweden left the Kalmar Union, Norway was ruled by Denmark
- Following Napoleonic Wars & the Swedish–Norwegian War, Norway was ceded to the King of Sweden
- After a period of indpendance Norway was occupied by German Forces during WWII.)