Monday, April 30, 2012

The Norwegians' Peaceful Response

Photo credit: Junge, Heiko/AFP/GettyImages
My friend Jim High shared a video last year of someone he knows personally. She is an American living near Oslo. On that video she shares her observations of the remarkable response from the Norwegians to the terrorist activity of one of their own, Anders Behring Breivik, whose alleged actions resulted in the deaths of 77 people. (The video can be seen below)

“One man set out to spread hate,” she stated, “yet, the overriding response to the horrific tragedy he caused, is love. Love for the families who are torn apart; love for the values of this amazing democracy; love for the free, open, inclusive society we in Norway have chosen. Love, support and kindness springing up from all colors, creeds and political affiliations, from all around the world.”

She then shared words that had been offered by officials in Norway:
  • From the Norwegian Minister of Justice: “We will not allow you to destroy our democracy and our commitment to a better world.”
  • From the Crown Prince of Norway: “We have chosen to respond to cruelty with compassion.”
  • The Mayor of Oslo: “We will punish the killer together, and the punishment will be more openness and more tolerance.”

Currently in Norway, the trial is underway for Breivik. In an article by Balazs Koranyi and Victoria Klesty Breivik that was picked up by Reuters, Breivik is quoted as saying that his victims were   "‘traitors’ who deserved death for embracing left-wing values which, in his view, opened Europe to a slow-motion Muslim invasion.”  The Norwegians’ response continues to be peaceful with as many as 40,000 people gathering in peaceful demonstration by singing “ ‘Children of the Rainbow’ - that extols the type of multicultural society Breivik has said he despised and one that he specifically dismissed during the trial as Marxist propaganda.”

There’s Just One Question

I find this Norwegian response to be remarkable and inspiring. As a southerner who grew up and continues to live in the “Bible Belt” – the epicenter of Evangelical Christianity – I have one piercing question to ask. Why has Norway internalized the message of the gospel of Christ in a way that is a quantum leap ahead of Evangelical Christians in the U.S.? Statistically, about 3% of Norwegians attend church, yet they act as Jesus bid his followers to act. On the other hand, here in the Christian South where there are churches on practically every corner, my fellow citizens are all too quick give shouts of approval to bigotry, war and violence. Where and when did the words of Jesus give way to sectarian and tribalistic cries of nationalism?

1 comment:

  1. Yes, your one simple question has no good answer. Norway has gotten it right and most here in the Bible Belt still live in Bibical ignorance. Posts like yours help to show the way to a better response for Christians everywhere.


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