Every time I get to listen to Rod Stewart singing the beautiful song, ‘Have I told you lately that I love you?’, I am reminded that I am behind schedule, that I have not done what I should do towards my nearest and dearest, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and just people I meet on my journey through life. It doesn’t cost much to do say it, or show it in a discrete and indirect way, just to let somebody know that you have noticed them and that they are okay, yes, more than that. It can even be the two little girls begging in the parking lot at the shopping center in Islamabad, or the poor young man who asks you to ‘load’ his mobile phone (with credit), perhaps just wanting to call his mother and be assured that all is good at home.

We can do a bit of this in everyday life, can’t we? We can never go wrong in showing love, care and recognition, and again, simply notice the people we meet, and communicate that we are in the same boat, and that they are as important as we are. Then we will notice, too, that all human beings are at the end the same, even though we may be miles and more apart in worldly gold and glitter. Yet, behind all of it, what counts, is the same, even for people with responsibilities and worries like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nawaz Sharif, and Angela Merkel – and you and me.

In my lifetime, we have seen tremendous development and democratisation in the world, indeed in my home country Norway. In the 1960s and 1970s, we saw few limits to how equal and just the world could become. Good things happened; just think of gender equality, environment and climate change awareness, easier communication and greater openness and much more. But we didn’t achieve the greater economic and social equality that many of us had wanted, within and between countries. We must keep up our ideals and change that.

Today, we are at the crossroads in many moral and ethical fields; we should not only be concerned about ourselves; we must also be concerned about the wider world. We must not be selfish and egoistic all the time; we must be concerned about others, and let them be concerned about us. We must be concerned about refugees and migrants.

Generally, and in sub-sectors, I believe we can contribute more to our everyday relations, our local communities and beyond, if we take a cue from the simple, positive message of Rod Stewart’s song.

This week, when the European Union has important meetings about future refugee and migration policies, I wish they not only took time to listen to Rod Stewart – and Pope Francis, who warned against the ‘globalisation of indifference’ a few years ago. But can we be bold and realistic enough to change our mindset and outdated administration? Can we look at refugees and migrants in entirely new ways – seeing them and us as equals?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in office since 2005, and the former Swedish Prime Minister from 2006-2014, Fredrik Reinfeldt, have been leading in expressing compassionate attitudes towards the current, relatively large influx of immigrants in Europe in recent years (over a million last year and a hundred and forty thousand till now this year). Instead of regarding the refugees and other newcomers as problems, the two PMs also looked at them as assets. Can we not all do that - and then find new ways of administration and management?

The PMs and others with substantive knowledge probably also understand that further ‘internationalisation of Europe’ is inevitable; hence, we must seek new and better ways of leading and managing the process over the next decades and beyond. Indeed, people who come as refugees do have the right to protection, assistance, and opportunities; that is good human behavior everywhere, and we have international laws for it, too.

Remember, the desperate asylum seekers could have been you and me; how would we have liked to be received? Yes, probably more like Pakistanis have treated Afghans for three decades than the way many Europeans have treated Syrians and North Africans for the last three years.

When will human beings be able to realise that all people are important and can contribute to their own communities and the wider world?

Forced and voluntary migrants are resourceful people, whom we should tap knowledge and skills from; we can learn other ways of thinking about issues and solving problems; we can get alternative ideas and insights – if we want to. Some may be well educated, and indeed have children who know that their only chance to do well is through education and hard work. Look at Pakistani immigrants to Norway, especially young women who over the last two generations often have scored higher in education and careers than fellow indigenous Norwegians.

But I don’t only want us to look at how clever many of the newcomers are. Many may be clever enough, but need time to adjust, receive treatment and heal after traumatic experiences. I just want us to open our minds and hearts and listen to them. Do the Europeans think they have nothing to learn from other people anymore? Do they (well, I should say, we) think that the European way is the only way and the best way? True, often Europeans have reached further than most other countries in many fields, but not in all fields, and there are also ‘dents’ and shortcomings even in the fields where Europe is advanced. Take the social sector, how handicapped and the elderly are treated; technically and even as for intentions, Europe has reached far, but still, there are both professional and everyday insights that newcomers from poorer countries can bring.

Often, I think that we in the West use the word dignity as per the definition in the dictionary and within ‘our own kind’ in our own town.

When people from outside knock on our doors and want to be part of the new lands, we welcome them, at least most of the time, and we give them the basics for what they need for a new life in a new land.

At the same time, we say: Don’t disturb; just be quiet. Even when we say we want newcomers to integrate, I am not sure we have thought about what it really means. For example, we should not say that the newcomers should change all about themselves and their backgrounds. Often, we do that today, and it is both impossible and indeed wrong. Newcomers should integrate in many ways, but not in all ways. Couldn’t the indigenous people in a Norwegian community also change a bit and learn from immigrants? The majority culture wouldn’t be ruined because of that; it would just become better and stronger.

God’s commandment is that we should love God and our neighbours as ourselves. That means that we should not only sing love songs to our nearest and dearest, but we should also remember to do that, as Rod Stewart does when singing ‘Have I told you lately that I love you?’

We should open our hearts to all human beings; we should show compassion and simple human feelings to all human beings. Can we do that so that the European and universal migration policies can become humane and fit our modern time? Do the strong, the Europeans and Americans, want to share their huge economic, intellectual and other resources with the rest of the world? Will we allow people from the rest of the world to be part of Europe, having to admit, too, that Europe only becomes stronger through it? And, if anybody worries, the identity of the European countries will not change all that much if receive five or ten percent migrants and allow them to stay – and after a few generations, they, too, become quite like the hosts.

I wish Angela Merkel good luck in her efforts. But even she must go further and talk publicly about the fundamental aspects about how indigenous people should treat aliens, and how we all must treat each other, with respect, dignity, concern, and even love. Well, this may be a task for the philosophers and thinkers, for lay and learned, including you and me. There are also organisations that must step up to the task, indeed the United Nations with its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, the International Migration Organisation (IOM), and many other organisations, universities and think-tanks.