Oslo, Norway—The UN International Day of Families was celebrated with a program on the topic “Family and Society—Our Families’ Situation in 2017.”
Four speakers contributed to the May 11 program, which was held at the V.I.D. Lutheran University. The event was organized jointly by the Norwegian chapters of UPF and Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), an affiliated organization.
Jan Harsem, the former leader of the Nordic Network for Families, spoke on the topic “The New Trends in Family Constellations and Possible Consequences.” He elaborated on the Norwegian development toward the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2008. He specified the five laws that were changed in that process and explained how political and other allies had come together to make this possible. He also presented some of the dilemmas and challenges that resulted from this rather speedy process. These are challenges that probably will gain more and more attention and will need to be dealt with in the time to come, he said.
The second speaker was from the Family Committee in the Norwegian Parliament, Geir Jørgen Bekkevold. His topic was “The New Biotechnology—Blessings and Challenges.” He mentioned his party’s standpoint to never compromise with the value of the human being. The new technology definitely brings new possibilities, such as helping childless couples to have children. However, he expressed concern that our ethics and morals are struggling to catch up with the rapid development in biotechnology. There are both technological, market and lobby interests that are pushing for acceptance of the new technology. But politicians have to think about the long-term consequences, something that is a challenge today, he said.
After these two speeches a four-minute UPF introductory video was shown.
The next speaker was a professor emeritus from the University of Oslo, Sigurd Skirbekk. He expressed some disappointment with the response to many of his books and publications in the Western world. His conservative sociological views do not seem to be in demand by the present authorities or the public. Nevertheless he said he is building his work on solid studies that should have a stronger voice in today’s society. We need a long-term perspective, he said, mentioning studies of dozens of civilizations done in the 1920s and 1930s by the British ethnologist J.D. Unwin which are still relevant.
Steinar Murud, leader of UPF-Norway, gave the final speech with the title “The Family as a Provider of Norms for the Society.” He mentioned that among the large number of UN days, the International Day of Families has the most importance for development and world peace.
Today many people praise the variety of families, but Mr. Murud defined the family as the core family – all other constellations are a sort of development from that. Our question should be, how we can preserve the original dream of keeping the core together when we are confronted with challenges?
Finally he listed four family values and described how they could benefit the society if they could be “exported” to a larger degree to the world around us.
As a conclusion there was a session of questions and comments.
Great refreshments and social mingling closed the evening.