2011 continues to be a terrible year.
Just last week, the Global Peace Index came out with their report and based on their analysis, Norway was placed 9th of a list of most peaceful and safe countries. This is not surprising for a country with few if any conflicts through its history, in possession of an open society and low crime rate as well as being the home of the Nobel Peace Prize.
But in the last 24hours, this peace was shattered by a bomb blast in central Oslo and a mass shooting of teenagers camping on the island of Utoya by single gunman. The combined death toll at the time of this post is 92 and may still rise.
Such things have never happened before in Norway but that innocence has now been lost forever.
It often feels like this whole world is full of violence and despair but there have always been oasis of peace and stability in the sea of turmoil. Places like Norway were like solid rocks, safe havens or sanctuaries where the hope for peace and humanity still burned bright. Thus, when something like this tragedy happens in Norway, it feels like the desecration of a sacred spot.
The Norwegian Prime Minister, Jen Stoltenberg, said in an interview, “Utoya was the paradise of my youth, now it has become hell.” I feel in the same way, hell has come to Norway.
I wish the people of Norway well and share in their period of sorrow at all the lives lost. Stoltenberg promised to help the youth to recover Utoya and all the sense of freedom of speech and beliefs and the sense of safety it represented. May I wish that all Norway too will find a similar healing.
O Lord, over the nations now Where is the dove of peace? Her wings are broken O Lord, while precious children starve The tools of war increase Their bread is stolen O Lord, dark powers are poised to flood Our streets with hate and fear We must awaken! O Lord, let love reclaim the lives That sin would sweep away And let Your kingdom come (lyrics from the song, "O Lord the clouds are gathering" by Graham Kendrick)