I am assuming most that read this will already have heard about the incident, it was of the magnitude to have obtained the attention of the world media. In the case that this is not so, what I am referring to is the attacks in Norway last week where one man single handedly bombed an office building in downtown Oslo and went on to kill dozens of people, mostly youths, on Útey, a small island not far from the capital. The exact death count has not been very clear, figures range anywhere from 75 to 90 people, in addition to the 20 or so that are still missing. Incomprehensible.
Norway lies down the western part of Scandinavian Peninsula, and is the country from which the Icelandic settlers originally emigrated. Here, the people of Norway are usually referred to as „our cousins the Norwegians“. They number 5 million and although I have not come across every one of them, I have yet to meet a Norwegian I did not like. It hardly needs mentioning that I have never met Anders Breivik. I would probably not be typing now if I had this past Friday at least.
Norway is a beautiful place, set with majestic mountains and trimmed with countless serene fjords. It is a kingdom, like Denmark and Sweden, and a very well off one at that. Aside from ample fishing grounds and lots of hydropower, Norway has oil and natural gas reserves surpassed only by the Middle East. The oil money, i.e. taxes, dividends, sales revenues and licensing fees from the oil industry, goes into a national fund that has a very fancy name but is always called “the oil fund”. It is to operate a some sort of a pension for the country, I believe to ensure the nation’s wellbeing in the case that the oil and gas run dry. Very smart and it is probably due to this foresight that the people of Norway have not become decadent and lost from the otherwise excessive influx of money into the economy.
So what happened? A perfect society if there ever was one acting as a breeding ground for human weed. I am not going to pretend to know or understand. I am not even sure I want to know or understand. Aside from the feeling of grief for the people that lost a loved one in the massacre I am mostly struck by the worry that such a seriously disturbed man could go unnoticed. He had a manifesto for god’s sake. Has anyone remotely normal ever had a manifesto?
But what’s been done cannot be undone. Anders Breivik will be sentenced to prison for 21 or 30 years, depending on what he will be charged with. Seems a bit insignificant considering how many people’s lives he either took or marred. But this is how the Nordic justice system works and you can’t turn it off and on depending on the case at hand. And if you think about it, executing him won't bring anyone back or lift the grief from the shoulders of the heartbroken. Keeping him alive might open the opportunity for studying him and trying to understand what makes such people tick, something that could hopefully be used to prevent future occurences of similar cruelty.
But I doubt it. No questionnaire or clinical study can encompass the malevolent working of such a diseased mind. No checklist exists for pinpointing evil and never will. Anyway, I think years upon years of being confined to a cell is a whole lot harder to chew than being put to death. At least I hope so.
Yrsa - Wednesday