When 600 young minds gathered on an idyllic island to form policies and opinions about the future, their own and that of their country, the last thing on their minds was that that future would hold a rain of bullets, devastation, and death. In a short few hours in the late afternoon on a lazy summer Friday their world, and the world as a whole, changed forever. Lives were lost. Innocence was lost. The very fabric of reality seemed to tear, showing a glimpse of a harder, more brutal existence. One in which we fear our neighbours for what they might do to us. One where communities were built to protect us from “the other”. One in which force and violence was the only solution. The world of Hobbes, of Nietzsche, of the individual, alone in the masses.Only the tear was permanent. Burned into facades of buildings by a massive explosion. Ripped into the bodies of the next generation by bullets. Forever imprinted on our retinas as we watched in horrified disbelief.
Is this the world we live in?
Can this really happen?
This cannot happen.
This will not happen.
While the families of the countless victims of the worst terrorist attack in the history of Norway try to cope with their loss it is up to us to take stock. What is this world we live in where people kill? What have we become that makes us capable of such atrocities? What has our society become that the massacre of human lives seems just in the pursuit of an ideological goal?
We have lost our way. Not from God or Allah or Marx or Rand. We have lost our way from humanity. We have forgotten who we are and what we can do. We, the people, the only people, have the capacity for greatness. Yet we resort to petty quarrels over ideology, territory and possession. We have become greedy. Self righteous. Self absorbed. We have lost our way.
I am drawing a line in the sand. And I hope you will stand with me. This ends now.
From this day forth I will do my part to make things better, to make us better. I will speak up against violence. I will speak up against oppression. I will speak up against injustice. I will speak up against indifference. And I will speak up against those who use division and antagonism to pit one against the other, that use words like “us” and “them”, who draw the world in black and white. And I will help them see that division makes us half of a whole. That we are all in this together. No situation has a single cause and no cause has a single effect. In all our actions, no matter how small, wel play our part. And if we all make that part a positive one, one without prejudice, ideology or personal gain, we will all be better for it.
This is not a political manifesto, not a religious doctrine, not a moral dogma. This is humanity, pure and simple: Race, colour or creed we are all sisters and brothers, born of our mothers. We are in this together and together we must make it work.
Together is our only option.
NB: There is a memorial planned for anyone who wants to gather about this event at the Scandinavian Community Centre in Burnaby on Sunday July 24th at 12:30pm.
Scandinavian Community Centre
6540 Thomas St
6 replies on “Together is our only option”
What a great text ……………………………. together is our only option ……
and how right you are, I want to give my respect and thank you for writing this and sharing it with all of us.
Thanks Rhea. It was something I had to write after watching events unfold yesterday.
The tragedy is so overwhelming- the brutality so incomprehensible. The slaughter of these young people is breaking my heart. When they chose to attend this camp, I doubt any of them thought they were making a life or death choice. Nonetheless, they were targeted & massacred precisely because rather than fritter away their time, they chose to spend this precious summer of their youth, engaged, and learning and practising democracy.
I don’t quite even see them as victims, although they and their families and friends and communities are most certainly that. I see them rather as shining examples of youth who care about the world – putting lie to the myth that “today’s youth are apathetic.”
What the world has lost in their now ‘never to be realized’ contributions to peace & democracy in the future we may never know. I can’t stop weeping. For them, their families, and for us who remain in a world bereft of their their idealism, their passion, and their commitment to actually *do something* to make the world a better place.
I was really inspired by your thoughts and commitment. As a rather recently “woken-up-to-the-need-to-do-my-part-to-make-a-difference Canadian” I’ve being trying for some time to adopt your “together is our only option” philosophy. Sometimes with greater or lesser success. I tend to get a bit rabid methinks, with my own ideology, and succumb to the “us against them” mentality. You’ve really helped me re-commit and refocus.
I’m in Victoria, so may not be able to get to/participate in your planned rally. What concerns me most is the families of the slaughtered children. And the youth who “survived” being massacred and may be going home physically safe to their families, but who have experienced the terror and the mass murder of their friends. (Again I weep and weep…..)
Do you have any ideas/contacts as to how we can express our sympathies, and support?
None of these people sacrificed their lives, their future, their children, their friends, their innocence, their hopes and dreams for the future, on purpose. They weren’t given a choice at all. We must exert every effort to console and honor them.
Thank you for writing words that I couldn’t form
Myself. Great piece.
I recently had taken a couple of courses on Lynda.com. Knowing you were from Norway – when I heard the news of what happened there – I immediately thought of you. Tears came to my eyes as I read your words.
Thank you for writing and sharing this with all of us.
I, like Mary, only “know” you from lynda.com, but wanted to send my sympathy for the great tragedy that occurred in your home country. Thank you for the wonderful piece you have written here and for bringing it back to humanity.