Today we are all Norwegian. I have to admit, up to this week I have never given Norway much thought. Beautiful country, land of the Vikings and their incredibly hot descendants and that's about the extent of it. But the recent tragedy has changed all that. Anders Behring Breivik murdered almost a hundred people in a senseless act of terrorism this week and now Norway is on our minds and in our hearts. My heart goes out to them, cliched as that may sound, I feel saddened with them and touched by what happened to them even though they aren't my people. As I read this story though I find myself wishing they were my people because as much as the tragedy fills me with empathetic sadness, their response to it fills me with admiration and respect.
Anders - a right wing fundamentalist Christian - committed this atrocity because he hated the culture of tolerance in Norway, especially towards immigrants and Muslims. The Norwegian response to this attack on tolerance? A vow to continue being tolerant.
The Prime Minister of Norway, said:
"You shall not destroy us, you shall not destroy our democracy and commitment. We are a small but proud nation. No one should scare us or shoot us into silence. No one should scare us from being Norway."
Meanwhile Eskil Pedersen, leader of the youth camp that Anders attacked responded by vowing to continue such camps in future saying:
"We meet terror and violence with more democracy and will continue to fight against intolerance,"
Now that, is incredible. I wish we could all see such sentiments from our leaders when terror attacks happen. If evil men attack you because of your principles, shouldn't the correct response be to hold on to those principles? Wouldn't the worst possible response be to sacrifice those principles in the name of safety and security?
It's a little ironic that in the wake of an attack by a Christian fundamentalist, it is the people of Norway who are acting more in line with the fundamentals of Christianity. In the book of Acts and the history of the early church, when the Christians were being cruelly persecuted by a brutal military regime their response was to become more like their Messiah. They did not choose to become more cruel, brutal or military themselves in order to become safer, instead chose to lay down their lives as their Master did before them. Being attacked by Rome for being Christian made them more like Christ, not more like Rome. That only happened later...
These days whenever a tragedy occurs it seems as if it's the Fundamentalist Christians who are most vocal in calling for stricter controls, harsher penalties, more draconian measures and more blood in retaliation. Of course at the moment they are too busy decrying the media reporting that the perpetrator was a Right Wing Fundamentalist Christian, pointing out that no true Christian - one who followed the teachings of Jesus - would ever commit such an atrocity. They are completely right in that but if this tarnishes them by proxy then they really only have themselves to blame. Who do you think started this trend of blaming the acts of evil, deranged men on their purported beliefs? Turnabout is fair play, is it not? Besides, modern Fundamentalist Christianity has little to do with the fundamentals of Christianity.