“Be kind,” says King
His Majesty King Harald’s New Year’s speech for 2019
Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
We all carry something precious within ourselves that is our own. It is a compass that no one can take away from us—and that holds our humanity for one another.
In Book of Proverbs it is stated: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
So how can we guard our hearts? We do this by showing kindness to one another. By engaging in a respectful conversation even when we don’t agree with each other. By lifting each other up.
We preserve our humanity when we acknowledge that there is a human being in each person we encounter. For then we realize that we share the most fundamental value: to be a human being on this earth.
I believe that it is critical to remember that each individual has the possibility—each day—to influence both our own and others’ sense of value and happiness in life. For each and every one of us matters.
I say to those who think that no one cares about what you do: It is precisely your smile that can make a difference for a fellow human being that you meet on the street. It is precisely your kind words that can make a day better for someone else. And it is precisely your thoughtfulness that can inspire good deeds.
The author Johan Falkberget has written, “Each time a person takes a step up towards the light, something incredible takes place. New stars are lit. Guiding lights. It makes it easier to take the step the next time.”
We all sense the light and the dark forces deep from within. We carry both within ourselves—and we observe them constantly at play in society and in the world around us. For the best in us to succeed, it requires concrete action:
• By working toward the inclusion of everyone who wants to be part of a community
• By protesting against degrading speech
• By standing up for the people, issues, and values we cherish.
In this way we strengthen our society. In this way we preserve the heart of our society.
I would like to acknowledge all those whose contribution we easily take for granted—but whose contribution helps create a community in which we place our trust in one another:
• All those serving Norway in other countries
• All health workers, who do their utmost to provide good, compassionate care
• All teachers, who each day set off for work with their focus, their heart and minds, on each of their students
• All service industry workers, who strive for professionalism with a friendly smile.
And as in many other professions, they do their very utmost to create a positive experience for their fellow human beings, keeping the best of others at heart—in countless daily encounters in all kinds of settings.
We also contribute to the strengthening of our society by engaging in what matters to us—so that local communities and our valuable cultural heritage are not lost.
It is about the thousands of men and women around the country who ensure that children and young people are able to enjoy recreational activities—surrounded by friends and secure adults.
It is also about all the young people who are creating something on the home front—so both cityscape and countryside are kept alive.
And it is about all those who work to protect and share the treasure of our cultural inheritance: may we know, cherish, and pass it on.
Through knowledge of both our own and the cultures and religions of others, we can more easily recognize what we humans have in common—despite our differences.
This legacy carries much that unites us—even if the ways of expressing it are different. And I believe that is what most of us are looking for. Because we, as human beings, want to come together. We need each other.
We need each other even when the differences between us seem great. Meeting others, we learn more about ourselves. We need to strengthen one another.
Norway was founded on the ability to compromise. By coming together to talk out issues, we lay the foundation for a solid society. We see the significance of this ability in the world around us too—not least when nations work together to protect the environment and save the world in which we live. We make compromises on a daily basis—in our families, on school grounds, at work, and in politics.
The ability to get along with each other despite differences and disagreements is perhaps one of the most important things we must preserve: both in our immediate surroundings in Norway and in the world around us.
We have good reason to be proud and grateful for all that is ours. With certain concern, we observe developments in other countries close to us. In the midst of this, Norway is still a country where we can express ourselves, our beliefs and thoughts, and most importantly, keep our freedom intact.
These hard-earned values are community property that everyone in our country should share in. We must together strengthen this foundation so that we do not lose ourselves and each other—knowing that we are one people, that we are one country.
This is the nation’s heart—what life in this country in built upon.
At the transition to a new year, we gladly think about joy, desire, and hope. But many carry along something unresolved, be it in relationship to other people or something in our own experience.
And sometimes it is difficult to find reconciliation and peace. But when it is possible, reconciliation can carry a redeeming power.
Imagine if we could all think a little more about lifting some of our burdens. If we could manage to come to terms with ourselves and with each other—wherever possible.
As adults, we carry a special responsibility for the way in which we interact with each other. Children and young people learn from what adults do and say. We, through our behavior, convey what is acceptable. Therefore, we must behave properly towards each other.
We need to talk about and to each other in the way that we want our children to take with them throughout their lives. Therefore, from time to time, we have to carefully think things over.
On this evening, my wish is for a joint New Year’s resolution for us all, that in the coming year, we will meet each other with kindness. If we together wish for a society characterized by respect despite disagreement, a society of openness rather than fear, of kindness rather than distance, we will make it. In this way, we will also preserve our heart—that which is the essence of life and makes us who we are.
Happy New Year!
Read the original Norwedgian text of the speech at the Royal House of Norway website.
This article originally appeared in the January 11, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.