Morten gave a speech during last night’s Rafto Prize ceremony at Grieghallen in Bergen, Norway.
The occasion marked the 30th anniversary of the Rafto Prize. In addition to 2016 laureate Yanar Mohammed, 18 previous Rafto laureates were present for a celebration which included national and international artists such as Ingrid Andsnes, Sondre Lerche, Kygo and Morten.
The Rafto Prize is awarded annually to individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves in their work for human rights and democracy. This year the prize was awarded to Yanar Mohammed for her tireless work on behalf of women and minorities in war-torn Iraq:
LEGENDS featuring the fabulous @Fargespill at last evening's Rafto Award concert and ceremony, honoring 30 years of honorees, as well as this year's remarkable laureate Yanar Mohammed. Merely minutes after this @kygomusic, @mortenharket and I joined forces in a Bollywood-style dance-off to conclude the evening. A night to remember.
Morten’s speech was accompanied by Kygo on piano. The full text of his speech is below:
Why are we gathered here today? Don’t we all have better things to do? More immediate priorities to make? Shouldn’t we leave to our leaders to manage our world?
The refugee situation that’s been exploding across Europe has weakened us. Not because we are weighed down by the sheer amount of nameless people trespassing our borders, inviting themselves to our table; but because they have exposed us to ourselves – exposed us to each other.
The refugee situation is being treated as a political matter; but it is something other than that, and this distinction is fundamental- as it defines who we are! It was, and still is, a humanitarian matter – one of magnitude!
Only when identified and upheld fully as a humanitarian obligation can we start to work its political dilemmas. Together, as a nation, as a people, as Europeans, as an example for our youth to watch. They are watching us now … learning who we are. And so is the rest of the world…
Europe! How does it ring? What are your immediate thoughts.
It’s not at all clear where Europe is heading. The future is moving in faster today than ever before, and it is picking up speed.
The nations of Europe are trading human rights as if it is a question of pragmatic politics. Day by day. A little here, a little there. Like a water leak that you know you need to check. Only you’ve been too busy with other important things. And the house still looks fine.
But leakage is leakage. So things have already started to rot.
Before long it will seep into the foundation. The facade is the last part to be affected. By then you cannot save the building.
Human rights is not a question of left or right. It’s a question of right or wrong. Europe is founded on ideas on who we are. So that we can deal with what we are.
We’re the only species on the planet to question its identity … we don’t know who we are, yet we can’t escape who we are!
It is in our nature to question things, to challenge our boundaries.
To stop asking questions is just like putting a process on hold. But it will never be stopped. It will either progress or regress.
Human Rights are not easy to live by in a world dominated by opportunism and greed and our growing need for guarantees against each other. It is a constant uphill battle in everyone to believe that we are something more than this.
We didn’t invent moral dilemmas. The gift of free independent thought came wrapped in moral dilemmas. They radiate through everything we do. If we ignore them, we are like monkeys with access to powerful tools. Because we are like any other mammal in almost everything we do.
This side of our nature is so big that we don’t see it. It is at work wherever we are, on building sites and in courtrooms – from your living room to The White House. Yet we assume that our actions are automatically human. They are not.
The Human Rights principles do not ask for generosity, they don’t depend on mood swings or on political trends. Human Rights are not subject to finance. And they are not negotiable. They are untouchable…. or they are nothing! In which case we are left with grim prospects.
On a planet filling up with people where everyone fend for themselves with tools more potent by the day aiming for short term gain, there is no pretty way out.
So why are we gathered here today?
Because what the Rafto Foundation is about has never been more urgent! We are gathered here because together we have the spiritual power to make a difference. Right now Human Rights matter more than anything else.
Underneath bloodline and creed there is a deeper bond between people.
Humanity has many faces … but we only have one heart.
That’s what makes us human.