Before I begin, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Norway as they struggle through these difficult times. We are all here for them to help them begin the healing process.
There are some positive reports coming out of Norway, however. The confirmed death toll is lower than previously feared; 76 rather than 93. And while there have been some calls to reinstate the death penalty, a shocking move in a country which outlawed capital punishment in 1905, there have been more calls for peace and solidarity.
Perhaps what is most tragic about this story is the fact that it happened in Norway, the country which awards the Nobel Peace Prize. Alfred Nobel never revealed specifically why he chose Norway as the awarding country for the Peace Prize, but he did admire the peaceful nature and the political restraint of the Norwegian people. There’s a more in depth answer to this question on the Nobel Foundation’s website here.
Adding to the tragedy, the alleged gunman targeted a youth group that had gathered to mourn and discuss the bombing in Oslo. While all loss of life is tragic, the thought that someone would intentionally target young people is particularly alarming and saddening. If the reports on motive are true, this was an act of political terrorism designed to forward an agenda of religious war, hatred, and intolerance. We must use this tragedy as a reminder that we must always fight against this sort of hatred and intolerance and seek to eliminate it whenever and wherever it occurs.
Update August 3:
I came across this letter written by a Chinese citizen to Anders Behring Breivik. In it the author outlines her daily struggles in China and berates Breivik for his wanton disregard for human life (the lives of his victims as well as his own). It’s quite moving and reminds us all that we should not take the opportunities we are given for granted and that we should make the most of them.