“You are Norway. We are Norway.”
This is Harald V, the 79-year-old King of Norway.
He’s done a lot in his eight decades on this Earth.
For example, Harald V competed in the Olympics in the 1960s — twice.
His devotion to Team Norway hasn’t faltered since.
He beat cancer over a decade ago.
And he’s still going strong.
In 2015, he became the first ever reigning monarch to visit Antarctica.
How many septuagenarians can say they did that?
But a surprising addition to his ever-growing list of big achievements was added this week after a speech he gave to guests in Oslo about equality.
Speeches from Norwegian leaders may not always make waves around the world. But Harald V’s words about his country’s LGBTQ community — as well as its immigrants and refugees — quickly went viral for all the right reasons.
The king boldly and beautifully pointed out that his country is at its greatest when it cares for all of its people.
“Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and boys and girls who love each other,” the king declared outside his palace.
“Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything, and nothing.”
“Norwegians are also immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Somalia, and Syria,” he said.
“It is not always easy to say where we come from, to which nationality we belong. Home is where the heart is. That cannot always be placed within country borders.”
The king’s speech, which you can watch below, is powerful at face value. But it’s especially so given our current global political climate.
Anti-immigrant sentiment — particularly toward Muslims — is on the rise across many Western countries. Many have pointed to Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, the game-changing Brexit vote, and the popularity of France’s far-right Marine Le Pen as proof of this disturbing reality.
Just this week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-immigrant party suffered blows from anti-Muslim candidates in regional elections.
That’s why it’s not just refreshing to hear a leader speak boldly about the importance of inclusion — it’s vital in batting down bigotry.
While Norway has often championed LGBTQ rights and is viewed as a progressive leader on the world stage, anti-Muslim rhetoric has been on the rise there too in recent years. The king’s compassionate speech is being heralded as a means to combat that hate.
Harald V may also have had his nation’s economy in mind giving this speech: Research suggests that when countries are more open to cultural diversity and prioritize inclusivity, it leads to better economic growth.
Combating hate isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.
“You are Norway,” Harald V said. “We are Norway.”
“My biggest hope for Norway is that we will manage to take care of each other, that we can build this country further on trust, solidarity, and generosity.”
Watch Harald V’s entire speech below: