Today, it’s been a week since the terror attacks in Norway. A very close friend of mine was killed at Utøya, and a handful of my friends were among the survivors. I wasn’t on the island myself, but I am a member of the youth organization that was attacked, and I have been to the summer camp there six before, between 2001 and 2007. On Monday, I tried to formulate my thoughts over at Chris Baxter’s blog. I still feel the same way:
“I haven’t been [to the summer camp at Utøya] in years, but now I feel a strong urge to go back. One of the most absurd things of all about this, is how starkly it contrasts with what I loved about going there every year: Meeting people who believed strongly in same things I did, making friends from all over the country and from our sister parties from around the world, and doing what 15-25 years old usually do when they meet like this; listen to music, play sports, debate, eat, fight, live.
My most fundamental feeling therefore is deep, deep sorrow. One of my closest friends was killed. and he literally died for the the ideals of a free, just and democratic society. I miss him so much. In total, five people from my county died in the attacks. I mourn the ones I never got to know better, and the ones I never got to know at all.
Next, I feel gratitude for those of my friends who came back alive. And yet. it doesn’t end here; this is where it starts. A whole generation of young social democrats have been scarred for life by the unfathomable evil they were forced to witness and the impossible choices they had to make as they hid, fought and swam to safety. We don’t yet know how it will change them, or us. We just know that it will. They’ll never be exactly the same people again, the ones we sent over there five days ago. But the ones we got back, we love them even more now. It feels absurd to have to call people who return home from summer camp survivors.
Third, I feel determined. Determined to keep fighting for the ideals those who didn’t return fought for, and to assist in the fight on behalf of those who did. We will not surrender to evil, but retaliate with a political order based on more democracy. more humanism, more love, more fairness. We owe it to those who share our political views, progressives everywhere, but not least do we owe it to those democratically-minded people who don’t share our political views. A continued, spirited yet respectful public debate must be the answer of believers in democracy, from the left, from the right, from the center. That is what the terrorist tried to silence. We will not be silenced.”