In the wake of the massacre in Norway last year, there has been a Scandinavian soul searching that is really moving, especially for someone (me) who lived in the wreckage of the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and then around New York City after September 11 and who now cringes at all this American celebration of death, whether it be Bin Ladin or Qaddafi.
Dagens Nyheter recently ran a feature about Bud Welch, an Oklahoman who lost his daughter in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. The headline is “My road away from hate was a long one” and he is now a death penalty opponent and featured in places like the Forgiveness Project.
I was struck by one quote from the DN story, about why Scandinavians have reacted so differently than Americans to terrorism (you know, with openness and sorrow instead of war).
I’ve wondered about that question. Few in the United States have the attitude that seems to characterize many of the victims in Norway. Maybe it is that American culture is so impacted by hate. We have experienced a civil war, and many struggled against the civil rights movement.
I wrote in the Christian Science Monitor over the summer about the bliss that comes from a Swedish forest that has known no war for 200 years. (Yes, I am well aware of all the Swedish hypocrises on this – Sweden in World War II is not a fun story – but I’m talking about the effect, not the process.) Is that the answer? Has the United States simply seen too much violence, whether it be slavery, war, the Wild West, or the war on terror?