Norway has experienced Hell.
This weekend, a monster with beliefs bombed the capital and killed several dozen youths.
I am not going to write about him. I might write about him later, but then again, I might not. I don’t want to spend energy on him. It is the the victims and the survivors in the Oslo bombing and even more so; the young victims and survivors from Utøya who are worthy of my attention.
What has happened is too cruel to completely understand. Several youth, most of them only teenagers, have been ripped away from our lives for no good reason. I don’t want their memory to be that of hatred. Hatred did this, and no hatred can make this undone. But love can help us through this, and love can prevent this from ever happening again.
The bomb in Oslo killed administrators within the government. The massacre on Utøya was aimed towards political youth. Political youths from all over Norway whose main agenda is anti-racism, solidarity, involvement in society, respect for nature and democracy. Several of these people have already made an imprint on the ruling powers of every city or town they came from. They are active and they are well schooled. They are the future leaders of Norway. Some of them have made older, more experienced politicians to rethink their own views, and with that changed the political course of Norway.
But most of all they are young people of Norway. Many of them probably found their first love at Utøya this year. Their first kiss. Many of them have been looking forward to this camp for a year; since last year’s camp ended. I have been to Utøya myself. Not as a member of that political party, but as a representative for an environmental protection group. I was 15. I have also been to several other political summer camps and ideological summer camps with the environmentalist group. I know how beautiful and wondrous it is. You learn, you meet like-minded people from all over the country. You fall in love. You find strength within yourself, and you find you can walk on your own feet and trust in yourself and your own opinions. You learn to fight for what is right.
And in the aftermath of what’s happened, the survivors from Utøya show just how extraordinary they are. Young people who have gone through Hell manage to focus on love, manage to face the media in order to tell their story – their experiences. They manage to face their own fears, manage to look past the terror and they promise: We will be back at Utøya. Such strength, such determination, such wonderful, admirable courage. I cry for the lost ones. And I cry in admiration and sympathy for the survivors.
I am proud of how Norway as a country and as a people deal with this crisis. We are sad, but we are not afraid. We refuse to live in anger, and we deny society to be driven by fear, monitored and forcibly held quiet. We want a humanitarian, open society driven by the belief in freedom, justice, the good in human and with trust in each other. We want to strengthen our democracy, not start to distrust our neighbours. We choose love.
In our grief, one message is quietly driven forth; love each other. Take care of our community. Support each other. Stand together. The survivors from Utøya tell a tale of tremendous fear. Of a meeting with hatred so strong and so blind, that even imagination cannot create such a monster. Still. A message from the survivor Stine Renate Håheim in a phone interview to CNN shows the essence of our reaction. She quoted a good friend of her with these words: “If one man can show that much hate, think of how much love we can show together.”
The attentions from the international community is heart-warming and welcome. The German Der Spiegel have this to say about how Norwegians have reacted: “Even in their deepest sorrow the Norwegians don’t get hysterical. They resist the hate. It is amazing to see how politicians and the whole country reacts. They are sad to the deepest thread of their souls. They cry in dignity. But nobody swears to take revenge. Instead they want even more humanity and democracy. That is one of the most remarkable strengths of that little country.”
This drawing by Kaveh Adel made me cry.
There is no comfort. There is no hate left. There is only grief, and the support in each other.
To fight hatred, we must love.