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Open letter to the People of Norway
"Words fail, but meaning still exists" wrote the poet Emily Dickenson, many of whose poems spoke so eloquently on the topic of death. I begin this way because nothing I say or write will ever approximate my horror and deep sorrow following the bombings and the massacre of your community leaders and your children. However write I must to express my love and respect for you, and to say how much I admire the Norwegian public response, which has been, incredibly, tempered and wise.
At a time when many of the leaders of the world's most powerful nations pursue escalating cycles of retribution and violence, your reply to this atrocity has instead been solidarity, democracy, unity, respect for diversity, equality, and freedom of speech. These ideas exist not only as philosophies or legal frameworks, they occupy the minds and live in the hearts of so many Norwegians. These ideas, translated into life, were apparent in heartbreaking interviews with many Norwegians, most notably many of the young people who survived the island massacre. Despite having just seen their friends murdered, and having barely escaped with their own lives, they spoke out eloquently about the importance of these values to their society.
I listened with tremendous respect and admiration as the young student organizer spoke out just one day after the tragedy. He bravely stated "We will respond to this attack with more democracy." Following this many Norwegians converged on Oslo in such numbers that a march was impossible. The message is unambiguous, the solidarity is palpable.
At this time of terrible grief and loss, I, and many people around the world stand in solidarity with you. Your ongoing commitment to so many positive social values stands as an example for us all. As always, you will have my respect and admiration. You will be in my thoughts, and in my heart.
Your Canadian friend,