Atle Hetland

  • Donald Trump won the American presidential election by promising to “Make America Great Again”. But what did he mean by ‘great’, and when, in the past, was America great, since the slogan says that it shall be ‘great again’. America is in many respects one of the ...

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  • There is one week left till Donald Trump will be USA’s next president, taking the oath of office on January 20, 2017, in front of the powerful and famous in his land on The Mall in the park in front of the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington DC. The rest of us, at home and abroad, will watch ...

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  • My article today makes direct reference to the New Year’s speech by a head of state, King Harald V of Norway, who took up essential issues that are important to all of us, everywhere. He is the symbolic head of state of Norway, a constitutional king, as it is called, while the actual power ...

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  • We all like to talk about what we know especially if others don’t have the same knowledge. At the end of the year, which is now, we summarise and draw conclusions, and we predict what may happen in the coming year. We may have our New Year’s resolutions and prayers, making plans and ...

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  • Yesterday, I received an encouraging email from a newfound friend, Michael Bruckner, an Austrian musician and miniature photographer who visited Pakistan a few months ago. I wrote about him and his fellow musicians when they played at PNCA in Islamabad, and he also exhibited a handful of his art ...

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  • Today, I will tell a few stories about people and events that taught me lessons this week, making me reflect on issues and experiences along the road in our life’s journey. It is a gift to be able to see new things, to let other people touch us, and without boasting, being able to influence ...

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  • First, let me apologise for such a fancy title. Maybe I could just have called the article ‘new politics for new times’? But then, my real academic background – before I branched off to interdisciplinary development and social science studies – is education or pedagogy. ...

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  • More than half of the world’s population is less than 30 years of age, and the rest of us who are above that age, some even more than twice the figure, are ruling the world. In addition, we probably understand less than ever what we are doing and what we should be doing to shape the world so ...

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  • When I was a young student and teacher in development studies Norway and Sweden a generation ago, it was part of our education to be critical. True, there was a lot to be critical about in all fields, and indeed in my main field of study, notably education in Africa and Asia. We were critical to ...

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  • Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend a great housewarming party in Islamabad, with the rich and the wealthy, the educated and thinking, and others. It was a mix of people, mostly from Pakistan, at least looking Pakistani, but some had spent as much time abroad as at home, for education ...

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  • Last week, Imran Khan and his party had planned to organise a large demonstration, dharna, in Islamabad. The police and other security agencies in the country were tasked with keeping the public and the demonstrators safe, did their work, blocking many demonstrators coming from other cities from ...

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  • When the World Health Organisation (WHO) opens its large conference in Delhi, India next week about tobacco and smoking, the whole conference site will certainly be tobacco-free, nothing less, of course, in the midst of the many puffing and tobacco-chewing poor Indians. The WHO conference goes ...

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  • A few days ago, I met Michael Bruckner, an Austrian musician who visited Pakistan for a brief week, along with three other friends in their music group called Nifty’s. They held concerts in Karachi and Islamabad, including with some Pakistani ustads. Sometimes, fusion concert sections are not ...

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  • On October 10, World Mental Health Day was marked all over the world, and the week after was termed the Mental Health Awareness Week. We should do this the rest of the year, too, keep up-to-date with the thinking about mental health issues and psychosocial wellbeing. It concerns us all. This year, ...

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  • Today, I shall reflect on issues related to exchange between religions and denominations, using Muharram and the relationship between Shia and Sunni Muslims as the main focus – noting, that today is the fourth day of the first month, Muharram of the New Year in the lunar calendar used by all ...

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  • Since there are many political events taking place this autumn, I shall today choose a few that I consider particularly important and offer my considerations and comments. First, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where he again drew ...

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  • Today, I will reflect on moral leadership, not as opposed to religious leadership, although often moral leadership has a religious dimension or foundation, but it doesn’t have to; and it doesn’t have to oppose it either. But a set of principles is required for our moral values and ...

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  • Eid-ul-Azha is approaching, as all Muslims and members of other faiths are very well aware of in Pakistan and in most other countries around the world. It is also the end of Hajj for tens of thousands of Pakistanis and other men and women who are pilgrims in the holy sites in Saudi Arabia. In ...

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  • National, regional and local elections are important to a democracy, in the overall affairs of their country. We emphasise and talk a lot about general elections. They are indeed important, but the election systems are not always as neutral and fair as we make them out to be, not even in the old ...

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  • Today, I shall draw attention to the life and work of a significant Norwegian theologian and politician who passed away three days ago. His name is Per Lønning (1928-2016), and every Norwegian of my generation knows who he was and what he stood for. No, it is not true that religion is ...

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  • Democracy is a bit like religious faith or humanism; we are always en route, on the way. If democracy does well in some countries or fields, it may do poorly in other countries and fields, even regress in some. Democracy is something that must be protected, defined, refined, improved and expanded, ...

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  • As the 69th Independence Day is just a few days away, I’d like to reflect on some aspects of the great land of Pakistan. For a few weeks, young men have set up stands on street corners, selling flags and various regalia; bikes and motorcars fly the Pakistani flag in green and white, and some ...

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  • I have a Pakistani friend who is approaching her 90th birthday. Let me call her Katherine. She is certainly not a youth. But the youth can learn from her independent thinking. And that is what we need, irrespective of age. Katherine was born in a European country and came to Pakistan before she was ...

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  • The term ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ is used for going through the invisible and unwritten barriers that exist in many fields of society. In USA, it seems possible, even likely, that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the first woman president, as she has been nominated to be the ...

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  • In-between the European Football Championship in France that just ended, the Olympic Games coming up in Brazil in a few weeks, and in the middle of the summer vacation for students and teachers, I would like to write about accepting yourself and ‘good enough’. If we all do our best, ...

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  • The moon was sighted at the end of Ramadan, as it always is, and that is already a week ago now, and we have celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr yet another time, and most people are back at work and everyday life – thanks to God. Eid Mubarak, dear readers, Muslims and non-Muslims, believers in any ...

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  • This week, all of us have talked about ‘Brexit’, the British exit from the European Union (EU). The count showed 51.9 percent of those who voted in the referendum to be against EU membership; 48.1 voted ‘remain’. Voter turnout was over 72 percent, but there was low turnout ...

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  • The Norwegian Shakespeare Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) wrote in his dramatic poem Peer Gynt about the button molder, who would re-melt and re-make Peer Gynt because he hadnt made optimal use of the assets he had been given, yes, with parallels to the Biblical parable about the Lost Son in Luke ...

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  • As the holy month of Ramadan had barely started, and we had begun enjoying the traditions of the month in Pakistan and all over the world, the shocking news about the tragic Orlando mass shooting reached us through the electronic media. Forty-nine young people in a night-club were killed, and over ...

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  • Last Sunday, as we were preparing for Ramadan, I opened a Norwegian newspaper on the Internet and found an article about the holy month. Not so strange, you may say, but then the article was written by a ‘standard Norwegian’, Aksel Braanen Sterri, a social science columnist and ...

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