Integrity is the value which the estimated 1,400 attendees of Iceland’s first National Assembly, held in Laugardalshöll sports arena in Reykjavík on Saturday, mentioned most often as society’s most important value.
Iceland's most important values, according to the assembly's participants.
Equality, respect and justice were also mentioned often, followed by love, responsibility, freedom, sustainability and democracy. The family and trust were also given high priority, as stated on the National Assembly’s website.
One of the assembly’s organizers, Lárus Ýmir Óskarsson, told Morgunbladid that the purpose of the event had been to encourage the nation to discuss the basic values of society and their visions for the future.
Attendees arrive at Laugardalshöll arena early on Saturday morning.
“It was a great experience and I’m proud that I was invited to participate,” said attendee Erna Arnarsdóttir. “It was fun to meet people from different backgrounds and discover that we have so much in common.”
“We all want to reconstruct our country and create a bright future for our children,” she added. “I just hope that the results will be worked on. I firmly believe that they will have a positive impact on society.”
“It was a good and necessary meeting,” commented attendee Matthías Björnsson. “So many things are happening in society. Now the most important thing is to construct a just society.”
Björnsson found it important that the nation came together to discuss ethics because immorality has been accepted in the past years. “But I wish we had discussed the nation’s independence more,” he added.
Attendees busy discussing their visions for the future.
Attendees, most of whom had been invited according to a random selection, were divided into 162 groups. These groups also included people who had been invited because of their position in society, representatives of companies, organizations, the parliament and government.
Among participants were Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, Minister of the Environment Svandís Svavarsdóttir and chairman of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson, to name a few. They participated in the discussions like any other attendees and didn’t share tables.
Each group had a discussion leader who brought up certain topics and encouraged people to write their ideas and opinions on a piece of paper.
Attendees then voted on these phrases and sentences and each group submitted their three most important ideas and values. They were then registered into a database and the immediate results were presented during the assembly.
Attendees were asked to categorize the ideas and phrases they had written down. Photos by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.
The most often mentioned values were used to create nine themes for further discussion, which represented pillars for society: education, economy, welfare, environment, administration, sustainability, family, equality and other (later renamed opportunities).
“In my mind the goal was to strengthen and support argumentative and critical thought,” said author Gunnar Hersveinn, one of those who volunteered to work on the organization of the assembly. He hopes that the assembly will have a positive impact on discussions in society.
All ideas mentioned during the National Assembly will be registered and made public. They cannot be traced back to individual attendees, but are labeled with the age, gender and place of residence of the attendee in question and can as such be used for social studies.