Student Reflection: Michael Seeley on violence in Norway

I recently came across this post while reading “Friends Among the Fjords,” a personal blog kept by Peace Scholar Michael Seeley from Augustana College. It’s a thoughtful reflection of the violence that has so deeply affected a country that is synonymous with the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

In Oslo, one of the major peace capitals of the world, violence has shaken the Norwegian spirit to its core. However, while it is shaken, it will not break, and will not compromise its commitment to globalization and democracy.

For posterity’s sake, I refer to the terrible tragedy that engulfed Norway on 22/7/2011. A man, who desires media fame, and who will thus remain completely unnamed here, exploded a bomb in the city center and murdered dozens of children on an island in the Oslo Fjord. To quote the Charlie Brooker of the Guardian:

“His name deserves to be forgotten. Discarded. Deleted. Labels like “madman”, “monster”, or “maniac” won’t do, either. There’s a perverse glorification in terms like that. If the media’s going to call him anything, it should call him pathetic; a nothing.”

For Norwegians and all those who love peace, this will be forever marked as a day of greatest loss and sorrow. For me, it has been a harrowing, poignantly painful time to be in this city. I weep for the people whose lives have been forever altered, and yet, as a foreigner, I cannot fully share in their pain. All I can offer is an ear to listen and a shoulder for tears. And yet, I have seen the Norwegian people gather together in fitting and strong solidarity. No act of senseless violence and hateful terror will alter their spirit or crush their ideals. That is not Norway; resilience is.

Michael Seeley
Augustana College
July 29, 2011

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