Monday, 25 July 2011

Unreal Reality: Utøya

Two adjectives have occupied my brain since Friday: unfathomable and horrible.

On Friday, catastrophe struck my peaceful neighbouring country Norway.

A bomb was set off at the government building in Oslo and on a small island named Utøya, no more than 0.12 km² big (or 0.075 mi²), what appears to be the same (potentially lone) culprit, an ethnic Norwegian Islamophobe and right-wing extremist, attacked a political youth conference held by the Norwegian social democratic party's youth division. He came to the island masquerading as a police officer and proceeded to open fire at people there (mostly youngsters and kids) with a machine gun, killing at least 86* people in this massacre during the next hour and a half (with at least another 7 killed in the Oslo bombing).

What is unfathomable is the unreality of this situation. We are used to be confronted with scenarios like this in literature and film. In fact, under different circumstances, we might have thought the preceding paragraph a brief synopsis, found on the back cover of a book or a DVD case. But while we are no strangers to such scenarios in fiction, on the whole, most of us (Scandinavians at the very least) have probably been fairly lucky and have never ourselves had to really look deep beneath the surface of the societal contracts.

Somehow, our brains can hardly not manage not to read this as fiction, precisely because of this.

As reality, it just seems implausible and horrible. Horrible because it shows us what we, as a species, are still and continuously capable of. And we have the gall to call such behaviour bestial, while labelling all our better sides human and even humane. But tell me which other animal on this planet of ours acts as cruelly as a human being when it pleases her to act in a such a manner.

Unfathomable. Horrible.

At least 86* people died on Utøya. But how many were wounded for life by the hours spent in horror and devastation? How many souls died on Friday on that small island?

* The latest information from the Norwegian Police indicates that the death toll from Utøya is probably going to be lowered, as the final tally is being put together. So far, however, they have not wanted to indicate by how much.

1 comment:

  1. Fortfarande, ett par veckor senare, är det svårt att ta in. Tycker ändå det är skönt att debatten kring attentatsmannen (som jag inte vill hedra med att nämna vid namn) har tystnat snabbt. Han är inte värd våra tankar. De ska gå till offren istället - människor som alla arbetat och kämpat för ett demokratiskt samhälle där alla ska känna sig trygga.