Lorin Peters - Like St Leander’s, our home church, the cathedral in Oslo Norway opens at night for the homeless. When we visited, a professional orchestra and chorus were rehearsing a beautiful requiem. Then we noticed a wall of 83 tapestries, all quotations, half in Norwegian, but half in English, about their July 22 mass murder. In 2011, a Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, detonated a car bomb, killing eight, then went to a Labor Party summer camp island and slowly and methodically executed 69 teen-agers.
Norway had never had a mass murder, much less one of this magnitude, nor one targeting children. Norwegians are extraordinarily caring, especially to children. They provide full child-care to all children, starting at age one. They have welcomed 815,000 refugees and immigrants, even though their population is 60 times smaller than America's population. The Norwegians went into shock.
But in their anguish, in place of blame and finger-pointing, they began by examining their own hearts – “how have we failed.” Some have suggested arming their police. But the majority seem to oppose that – they have watched America descending into alienation and estrangement from our police as our police have militarized.
Many European police are unarmed. My cousin Geoff is a retired bobby in England. He spent his days walking his village, chatting, settling disputes, being helpful. He has never touched a gun. One day a busload of visiting sports fans got drunk in the village pub. When their leader got out of hand, Geoff took away his ale. He grabbed it back. When Geoff took it away again, his fellow drunks threatened to attack Geoff. Instantly, every village man in the pub stood up. “This is our man. He takes care of us. He is our law. We will defend him.” Thank God for nations who carry, not guns, but compassion and community.
Pace e bene