Here is the written version of my Last Word on the Unsolicited Opinions podcast on 22nd of July 2016. Below is the link to the video.
On July the 22nd 2011 the peaceful illusion of Norway was broken. 77 people were brutally taken from what to the outside world seemed like a harmonious country, but underneath had a growing hatred building. Norway was the perfect country alongside Sweden to many progressives out there.
Most of the causalities were from the Labour youth party, but anyone who was involved in youth politics in some part of their lives empathized with the families. Something like this was not supposed to happen, at least not in Norway. That’s what I used to think.
So what led up to it? What caused it? How could kids at a summer camp and regular government officials deserve this in any way? These questions kept on spinning through my head for days, weeks, months and even today. To try and understand something like this is very human. We need to have something happen for a reason. There needs to be a pattern.
The reaction from the Norwegian public was laudable. People marched in solidarity and promises of more democracy were given by the prime minister at the time. We would talk this thing to death and embrace each other’s differences. This way Norway would be healed.
So what has happened since? Have we opened up the government for more people? Have the people had their say on issues? Not really. In fact it feels as though it has gotten worse. Not just in Norway, but in the West in general. Mainstream media gives the feel that you should fear young white men, while also disregarding their concerns like a growing suicide rate and high workplace deaths.
I’m not saying that the killer (I use that as I do not want to give that guy anymore credit) was justified or that his tactics were good, but growing up as a young white male in Norway, I have seen why the hatred is growing among us. Now personally I don’t think collectivism is a solution to anything, but I do think it is understandable. When you forget the people that feel like they are at the bottom of the totem pole, they tend to be easy targets for radical views. This can also be seen among other groups of people all across the world. Collectivism is never the answer, but I can understand it.
The promises of more democracy seems also hollow to the touch as most media outlets have closed down the comment sections on certain issues and the government seems more centralized than ever. It started with football articles and as any fan of football, not handegg, knows we can get quite passionate about our teams. But soon you could not comment on any articles with a divisive nature to them. The problem with removing the comment section on news sites is where else can you talk about it, the forum sites, often those with a more radical leaning. They are there to pick up those that do not know where else to go. These forums can be filled with people who either already agree with you or have a far more extreme view on things than you. Most importantly you lose that person who may disagree with you, but engage you in a friendly manner.
This is why I am so passionate about talking to people, even those I disagree with. Especially those I disagree with. In my eyes they are the ones I can either learn something new from or maybe I can give them a different point of view on the issue.
I have a friend who is a feminist of the classical sense and she’s a great person, but she was not aware of how bad the suicide numbers among men in Norway was, until I brought it up to her. First thing she said was something had to be done and that led into a general discussion on equality. I came out of the discussion having learned a few things and we became more understanding towards each other.
Now you are probably saying “What does this have to do with the Utøya attacks?”. Well, if you read a little bit about what the perpetrator of those attacks went through in his childhood, you get a glimpse on how he got radicalized. He rarely saw his father, his mother may have abused him, he got bullied during his adolescence and sought out acceptance, but was rejected.
Dialogue may not have saved us from the attacks on this day five years ago, but can we risk dividing up our people anymore? Should we not take 10 mins out of our day to try and understand a person that says something you may disagree with? Maybe they can get you to understand why they feel that way or maybe you can make them understand?
And I understand the anger from different people. It is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of returning to darker times, fear of losing your rights or your life. But this is a fear that is in all of us. It shouldn’t be fostered by only talking to those who agree with you.
The only way to beat this fear is to face it, so today talk with someone you disagree with. Talk, don’t yell and maybe you’ll be surprised.