There is no doubt that to most Scandinavians, be it Swedes, Danes or Norwegians, summer ’11, will carry a distinctly sad batch of emotions. While we are all trying to make sense of what happened (which is, of course, impossible), I can say nothing other than this summer, I have been very proud to be Scandinavian. We do not fight violence with more violence. We fight violence with freedom, love, and democracy. There will be no crusade setting out from our shores, there will be no hate, there will be no unnecessary dead at the hands of our soldiers.
We are free, democratic people, and we show now that we will continue to be.
While the American reaction of trying to pair a country (or a religion) together with arbitrary acts of mad men seem more understandable to us now, we will not succumb to this most banal human reflex. This was not a Christian act, although the perpetrator multiple times described himself as such. This reminds us to keep apart fundamentalism, and the acts done in its name, and peaceful belief. There will always be people with anger, violence, and contempt in their hearts, what ideology they subscribe to seems to be almost random.
We must remember, and criticize ourselves for how we treat Muslim believers. As soon as the news that this was a white, Norwegian man came out, psychologists were immediately summoned.
“What was his childhood like?”
I don’t remember anyone ever asking this question about a Muslim terrorist. It is easy to write someone off because we don’t understand them, like we have done with Muslims who “hate us” for more than a decade now. I hope this will make people think that “this man has as much to do with my beliefs, as a any Muslim has to do with Muhammed Atta”.
And last, but not least. Between January and June of this year, 1145 children in Kongo-Kinshasa have died of measles. 115000 are currently very ill, and many more will die. 78 people died in a plane crash in Morocco today. 3,7 million people (a third of the entire population) in Somalia are currently suffering from the worst famine in 60 years. Many of them will also die.
My thoughts go out, not only to the hundreds of family members and other loved ones of the killed in Norway, but to people who are dying everywhere. This summer we came to know what it’s like when so many people die at the same time, the number is almost impossible to understand. So many lives, not even lived. But we are fortunate, because we are strong. Our countries are built on love, on understanding, and that will continue to be their foundation. Let us today and tommorrow remember the places where tragedies like this are the rule, not the exception.
Let us mourn the people who died too early this summer.