I was travelling to Kidderminster when I heard the news that a bomb had killed several people in Oslo, my first reaction was blasé and not worthy even if that had been all that had happened – media hype, overreaction, oh well. The next day I could have cried, and find myself even now with tears in my eyes if I think about the events and find myself unprepared.
Was it 60, 70, 80 or 90 people shot on the Island of Utoeya, it hardly matters in one sense, it was an act of hate, intolerance and sectarianism that betrays the evil in humanity , it betrays all that is wrong with our societies based on privilege and exclusion – be it economic or otherwise. The act of calmly killing all those young people (and in a sense it does matter that they were young, because Brevik was killing the future) was the manifestation of all our hates and fears, all our prejudices; if there was act in 2011 that deserved the death penalty than that was probably it, I would have voted for it there and then.
The press and Cameron soon responded (The Sun very quickly blaming Muslim terrorists) the words were supportive, strong, and defiant, they summed up the feeling that most right-minded people would be thinking, we want revenge and retribution – we want the people, or the person, to pay, for this atrocity.
After reading the news reports and watching the developing story on TV I was ready for almost anything that day – well apart from the response Jans Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Prime Minster.
His words hurt me, they challenged my humanity and my conditioned responses, they made me feel as bad as Brevik was for clinging to tradition of revenge and yet inspired me to something greater showing me how my reactions were barbaric, he moved the argument from revenge to solution in a few short sentences.
We will fight this attack on freedom with more democracy
We will educate people
We will not give into the hatred that caused this atrocity
There are few politicians that have me humbled, and the Norwegian Prime Minister was one of them, the King & Queen of Norway wept at the Memorial Service for the victims articulated the pain of the country at this act of terrorism, at which even the King wept.
A few months later I heard my Prime Minister talk about revenge, ‘clamp downs’ during the UK Riots, I hear the lack of communication between the Politicians and the People, the divide and why things have got so bad when we have had it so good, and see the decadence of Class and privilege, the divide between the people, and wonder if the cost of our prosperity is too high.
Cameron does not give the country hope, continuity or meaning – he gives us reform, greed and division, this is not what people need in time of trouble and grief, we do not need to wallow in the negative, instead we nee to be taken above the ‘here and now’ and taken to what we can be, what we should be – this is not escapism, this is empowering hope. Amazing Grace, – written by a former Slave Trader and ‘hymn’ of the Socialist movement The Red Flag both inspire me to tears, they acknowledge the hardship of the struggle yet take us beyond that to our goal, the end journey – the empower us. Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of his country immediately to hs country’s grief and turned it into a hope, a vision.
Sadly I believe that Prime Minister Stoltenberg has this hope in his heart, a vision, enormous compassion which I don’t think David Cameron has, Cameron has an agenda but no hope, he plans but no soaring aim, he sees British politics as a game to be won, not the United Kingdom to inspire.
I wonder what has gone wrong with my country, or what has gone right with Norway?
If anything has restored my faith in the dignity of the human condition it was the tragedy of Utoeya mad the triumph of reason over the raw emotion of tragedy.
As the survivors of Utoeya waited for their rescue they sang ‘The Internationale’ – I am not sure I can say anything about that, apart from there are tears in my eyes every time I think about that, or hear the Hymn.
Divided we will fall, united we willl stand; the choice is yours and mine.