This is what I love about living in Norway:
This morning I was walking to work and passed a woman in the street. She looked familiar and I was deep in my own thoughts so I just said “hi”. She said “hi” back and gave me a smile. That was when I realized that I`d just said “hi” to our prime minister.
She was walking down the street, no security pushing people aside or trying to keep her away from any and all dangers in her path. I liked that.
And before you say, “well, it`s easy for your prime minister to walk around unprotected – you live in such a peaceful part of the world”, I need to remind you of the terror of Oslo and Utøya only a little over two years ago. Our government buildings were bombed and 69 kids were killed at a political rally – all on the same day. I also need to remind you that the Swedish prime minister was killed in the streets back in 1986 and that another Swedish minister was killed while shopping in 2003.
I`m not sure our politicians are in much less danger of meeting a crazy person than politicians in most other countries. They still choose to walk, use their bicycle or the tram – they are among us – and if you come here you`ll see it all the time. This is a choice they`ve made. They want to be close to “the people” because that`s the only way they can still stay part of the people.
So I was thrilled to be able to say “hi” to our prime minister today. Not because I voted for her or because I`m a fan of her. Not because I get a thrill from seeing famous people. But because it reassures me that our politicians are still just people and that they are accessible. If I contact a politician via email or some social media, I`ll always get a reply – and most probably from that politician him-/herself. I may not like the reply but I know he or she listened to me and that my opinions were somehow taken into account.
I like that 🙂
EDIT: On the same day I had lunch at a restaurant near my office and who walks in? The mayor of Oslo – dressed in jeans and a huge smile. Yes, I like this country (even if I didn`t vote for the mayor either).