The past few days I have seen the worst and the best of mankind.
It started with the worst. With terrorism, hate, fear.
But it quickly turned around, into a show of strength far superior to that of one individual's hatred. It was the will of an entire people - and with us an entire world - who chose love, solidarity, democracy to battle terrorism.
"We meet terror and violence with more democracy and will continue to fight against intolerance," our Prime Minister said. And the people replied. By organizing hundreds of events in support of the victims. By speaking out in public, or by use of social platforms like Twitter and Facebook. By standing together, in rain and sunshine throughout the weekend, in Oslo and around the country (and also abroad). The sea of roses in front of one of Oslo's churches grew from a few hundred to thousands and thousands in the course of a few days. And then the rose march yesterday - taking place simultaneously in Oslo and the rest of the country. We're a small country, of only 4,6 million people. About 1 million of us were out marching with roses or candles yesterday. Even though we're not many, though, even though we're small; we're also big. Together we are more than 1 million roses, more than 4,6 million people. We're a nation coming together in a time of grief.
Another inspiring quote that has circulated these past few days is from one of the young politicians who was at the Utøya camp on Friday: "If one man can show so much hate, imagine how much love we could show, standing together."
This is exactly what we are now doing.
Matching our solidarity and love, however, must also be what our Prime Minister called for: democracy.
According to our laws, the maximum punishment the culprit from Friday's terror actions can get is 21 years (though there is the possibility of charging him with "crimes against humanity", which might make him eligible for a total of 30 years). In addition, these are not calendar years, but "prison years". Which means that in theory, he could be out of jail after 16 years.
16 years does not seem much considering the many lives lost. 16 years does not do justice to the loss of these young lives, the dreams and hopes. But then again - what would? Prison for life? Capital punishment? Public lynching?
Of course not. Nothing will ever do this justice. The best we can do is to make sure that the terrorist's intention will not prevail. He attacked our democracy. Our democracy will fight back.
So it is important to me to answer to what I've seen of international (and national) skepticism with regards to the "mild" sentence. Yes, it is mild. 16 years in a comfortable Norwegian prison is not much. But it is what we have at hand, determined as we are to not let him win by changing us.
In addition, even if his official punishment ends at 21 years, his time locked up will not. We have a system in Norway called "forvaring" (involuntary commitment), reserved for criminals who are considered a particular danger to society. There is no doubt that he will end up there, probably for the rest of his life.
It's still not justice. But neither would changing our society and somehow find it in us to execute him. It would not help. It would not bring back those who died. And if we did, then it really would be appropriate to consider this a "loss of innocence".
I trust my country and the people ruling it. I have faith in our ability to get past this without changing for the worse. As many have pointed out - this will change Norway. But it is us - not him - who decide how.
Finally, some impressions from the rose march, which wasn't a march after all, since 200 000 people showed up in Oslo. It was simply impossible to logistically organize it, so we stayed put in front of the city hall. Here there were speeches from Prime Minister Stoltenberg, Crown Prince Haakon, the leader of the Labour Party Youth Organization, and several others. There was music, togetherness, and roses. Roses everywhere. Every few minutes someone raised their rose to the sky, and this triggered a wave of roses all over the crowd. It was stunning to see what resembled a meadow of flowers growing from the hands of the people. And it was impossible to fight back the tears when the crowd spontaneously erupted into song.
This memory will be with me for life. I can only share with you the pictures.
That is how much love we can show each other, standing together. OsLove <3
maria mena "Mitt Lille Land" by maria mena