Atle Hetland

  • Last week, I wrote about the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, the UN World Food Programme (WFP). Most commentators and people I have spoken with, or exchanged emails with, have generally been positive to the recognition of the important United Nations organisation, which ...

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  • It was a pleasant surprise that a United Nations organisation won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, notably the World Food Programme (WFP). Some will say that the UN should not be given such prizes, because that is just honouring them for doing their work, yes, doing it very well. Others would argue ...

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  • In a couple of recent articles, I have written about the need for new and sustainable international relations, especially North-South relations, increased development aid and better migration and refugee measures. The European Union (EU) introduced new migration plans a couple of weeks but they are ...

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  • Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted the problems with illegal transfers of money from developing countries to the West, and sometimes also legal or semi-legal ones, which every year constitute hundreds of billions of ...

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  • We live in a time when countries want to be on their own and independent, and at the same time, cooperate with the rest of the world. Formal international cooperation has become less than before, not only because of the ongoing Corona pandemic, but because big countries feel they can do just as ...

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  • Ronald Dore (1925-2018) became a legend among educationalists already in the late 1970s. Everyone who had opinions on basic education issues, philosophy of education, policy and planning issues, comparative and international education, and just about everyone in social sciences and politics, ...

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  • Sometimes, I get the impression that teachers and education planners are very slow learners, and even education politicians. They build on the past, what is there already, and just add to that, it seems. They want to make small changes, because to make big changes and do new things takes courage ...

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  • Last week, I wrote about some age-old ethical and moral principles, emphasised in the holy books, having been seen as fundamental for good human behaviour till this very day. I wrote about arrogance and pride, which can make human beings close their eyes to the needs and values of others. Instead, ...

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  • Holy books give advice about how people should live in many ways, how we should behave towards each other and what feelings we harbour and show. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, we read: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength, or the rich boast of their riches, but ...

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  • Soon a new school year opens. It is a paradox that the educational institutions, which are meant to be safe and good places to be for children and youth, also are places that create the most stress, discomfort and worry in the young. They often experience a feeling of being insufficient and never ...

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  • Last week, I wrote about some mental disorders that are not only bad, but have positive side-effects, too. That doesn’t mean that psychological disorders are good; it just means that one can compensate for the negative effects and turn bad into good, to some extent. Often, families who have a ...

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  • In recent years and decades, lay and learned have become better informed about many psychological, mental and social issues and how we should look at such disorders and illnesses. Yet, there is a lot of ignorance about them and much stigma and discrimination. There is limited government and private ...

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  • First, I would like to wish all Muslims ‘Eid Mubarak’ as the feast begins the day after in Pakistan. I would also extend the same greeting to all who live with or in closeness to Muslims, belonging to other religions in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world, and to everyone else.The story ...

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  • When I first heard about the virus which turned out to become the corona pandemic, in late January or early February 2020, I thought it was an exaggeration rather than something to worry about. The diplomat who told me disagreed, saying it was going to be bad. Unfortunately, he was right. Had ...

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  • We all think and dream about life after corona, when they have found some vaccine to protect us and some treatment to cure us if we get sick. Today, that seems far away, or at least, we don’t know when it will be, maybe early in 2021 or later in the year. Till now, though, the number of ...

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  • The title of this popular song by Alexander Igoryevich Rybak (b. 1986) makes us all feel nostalgic, thinking of a time long gone by, or just half a year ago, before the Corona pandemic. I shall use Rybak’s artistic work to reflect on people’s life, indeed those of refugees and ...

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  • There are various forms of racism, discrimination and inequality in all countries of the world. Today, though, it is often illegal, the forms become subtle and almost invisible. Earlier, South Africa’s apartheid regime institutionalised a racist system of white supremacy from 1948, but it ...

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  • The new American movement ‘Black Lives Matter’ is important, and that was certainly also the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Later movements have taken the world ahead: the Women’s Movement and the Environment and Climate Change Movement, beginning in the 1970s and still going ...

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  • The tragic race incidents in the US in recent weeks, which began with the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and now the campaign, Black Lives Matter, make us all reflect on what we can do. I will today draw attention to a Norwegian poet, Arnulf Øverland (1889-1968), who was the ...

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  • America and the world are in a hurry to find a vaccine and a cure for the coronavirus. Recently, some reports say that there may be something by the end of the year, which we all hope comes true. If so, that will happen about the time a new president will be installed in USA. Hopefully, he will ...

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  • When schools and universities closed for several months in many countries this spring, due to the corona pandemic, distance education suddenly became a popular substitute, especially at higher levels. Today, I shall discuss some aspects related to distance education. There are many lessons to be ...

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  • Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr is over for this time. Next year, we hope to be back to normal ways again and that the corona pandemic will be over. Yet, we may also take with us a few good experiences from the way we celebrated this year – and even some knowledge about the HIV/AIDS pandemic from the ...

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  • As this year’s Ramadan comes to an end, we can look back at an unusual month of fasting, a quieter and more peaceful time than other years, and in a few days we can celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. Today is also Ascension Day when Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus, Issa, was taken up into ...

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  • They say that there are at least three impossible vocations in this world. The first one is to be a preacher and adviser on religious and existential issues, helping people to sort out this life and be prepared for the hereafter. The second impossible vocation is to be a doctor or another medical ...

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  • In some earlier articles, I have written about the time after the corona pandemic, when we get a chance to repair and rebuild, and change things that were wrong in the past. Today, I shall draw attention to some of those things again, but I shall also emphasise that there are many old things that ...

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  • Ramadan this year will be different from all other years; there are no big Iftar dinners and other parties with business relatives, colleagues, diplomats, foreign and local friends and acquaintances, and others. Iftar dinners are small gatherings, mostly for family members and close friends. ...

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  • Today, I would like to write a bit more about the issues I began writing about last week; I may not have answers, but I believe in the importance of reflecting on both difficulties and opportunities, indeed with a positive outlook. In last week’s article, I said that we should think about how ...

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  • Let us pray for the rich and powerful because they knew not what they were doing. It is now the week after Easter, the end of the Christian time of fasting, and a week before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, which will end with the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. ...

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  • Because Christians celebrate Easter this week, and because of the difficulties people all over the world experience with the corona pandemic, I would like to be a bit theological in my article today. Those who have read some of my earlier articles know that although I have a basis in Christianity, ...

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  • Do you remember Rod Stewart’s beautiful performance of the Northern Irish singer and songwriter Van Morrison’s song from 1989, which has given title to my article today? If you don’t, it may be because you are too young, or because you know other songs with similar, universal ...

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