I am shocked and dazed.
Yesterday at work, I was sitting around in the middle of the afternoon. Nothing happened. I had literally no cases to work on, and there were no cases left I could pick up. Consequently, I decided to take a peek at a Danish newspaper’s homepage, just to see if there was anything going on.
I could not believe my eyes.
Oslo, my home away from home for so many years, was under attack. The government district had been hit by a massive bomb. The building housing the prime minister’s office looked like something out of a post apocalyptic story. I tried to tell all my colleagues but only a few of them seemed to register the seriousness and tragedy of it all initially. I was glued to the screen until I had to go home, switching between a few different news-sites, hoping to get another snippet of information.
Soon they were all mentioning that a person had died.
Then that two had died.
By the time I got home, the deathtoll had exploded. They were talking about anywhere from seven to thirty five dead, including those who were attacked simultaneously at a summer camp for 13-14 year old members of the ruling Norwegian social democratic party’s youth organization.
Where a tall, blonde man wearing a fake police-officer’s uniform arrived, and started shooting left and right.
I got up this morning to the news that as many as eighty children had been killed on the island.
Murdered in cold blood. One eyewitness who survived the massacre describes how he kept shooting for forty five minutes to an hour, roughly one shot every ten seconds. How he kept hooting and hollering, making victory-shouts and … oh gods, this is just so fucking senseless.
The man that the police have arrested and whom everyone believes to be responsible for both the bombing and the shooting is Norwegian. In fact, his name is so arch-Norwegian it almost becomes a parody: Anders Behring Breivik.
This name has now become the Norwegian equivalent of Timothy McVeigh.
Breivik is a self-described nationalist, frequenting the extreme right of Norwegian society. He is a rabid islamophobe … and he chose to take his anger out on innocent children at a summer camp, as well as by blowing up a bomb in the center of Oslo, claiming more innocent lives and unfathomable material damage. The blast was so strong that newspapers are reporting stories from people as far away as four kilometers from the blast, feeling their buildings tremble. Windows are blown out in a one kilometer radius.
When I looked at the images from the bombing-site yesterday, I felt a cold chill run down my spine. The Norwegian parliament, Stortinget (the Great Ting), is prominently shown right next to the damaged building. I used to eat ice-cream literally on the exact opposite side of where the bombing went off when I lived and studied in Norway. I ate dinner at a restaurant 200 yards down the street from there several times.
This is like my own back yard. These are places with the deepest emotional meaning for me.
When I get off the boat or plane in Norway, my first feeling has ALWAYS been “I’m home”. It makes me smile simply to be there. Norwegians are some of the kindest, gentlest, most decent human beings I know. Theirs is a culture of friendliness and warmheartedness. They have a long-standing tradition for democracy and for antimilitarism. Yes, Norway is a member of NATO, yes they have taken part in military operations in both Libiya and Afghanistan, but Norwegian culture is anti-militaristic.
And now they are under attack. Not by Al Qaeda, which so many people thought initially, but by one of their own.
More than eighty people dead, most of them innocent children at a summer camp, and no one knows if the death-toll will rise. Everyone expects it to.
Words fail me. I don’t know how to adequately express my sorrow or how deeply I feel affected by this. I want to know that my Norwegian friends and family are all alright, but by feeling that way I feel like an egotist, because even if everyone I personally know in Norway are alive and well and unharmed, then what? Can I just sit back and draw a sigh of relief and go “Oh thank goodness”? So many people have been directly affected by this … indescribably heinous crime.
Please, I ask you, if you have any kind of faith at all, to pray for Norway. Pray for those left behind. For those wounded on mind and body.
And for those who have died.
For those who are not religious, I ask you to sympathize. To show your support for the bereaved and the affected.
Norwegian newspapers like dagbladet.no and vg.no are showing updated pictures, if you want to see the devastation. Sometimes, you can find articles in English translations on their sites if you need it.
We must not let terrorists dictate our lives. We must not let them win by changing how we are and what we do. We must remain defiant in the face of their meaningless, senseless insanity and violence.
We must take our lead from the government of Germany in this, and understand that we must never negotiate, never back down, and never give in to terrorists or their demands. If we do, they win, and then every drop of innocent blood, every bit of suffering and every tear shed for those lost, will have been in vain.
Today, we are all Norwegian.
All those of us with compassion, decency and humanity.
This entry was posted on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 at 7:43 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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