Atrocity

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We live with the ambitions – and perhaps even illusions – of the “civilized world.”  The veneer of liberty, politics, and democracy have somehow shielded us from atrocities, from barbarism.  Great strides in knowledge have rendered the concept of “race” obsolete, and now we embrace cultural and social diversity.  For all our differences, there are more things that hold us together than keep us apart.

Yet we live in a world where an atrocity is deemed by a fanatic as “necessary.”

Freedom is somehow tolerant to a fault, that even the most extreme and asinine ideas find equal and firm footing in free speech and assembly.  We accept them not because we agree with them, but because they are part of the marketplace of ideas.  The world is full of homophobic, racist, xenophobic charlatans who spend days and weeks and months preaching their twisted zealotry to the masses with no sign of outrage.

Yet that act of freedom ends where one begins, and it doesn’t have to be murder.  Murder is a very distant line crossed.  It is a line made in the picket lines of anti-gay religious fanatics, in racists smashing windows, in xenophobes proclaiming the most obsolete and discredited ideas of the last century to be the salvation of the few.

The promise of multiculturalism is in harmony, in mutual learning, in sharing.  Yet some prefer the chaos of isolation, the belief in a false sense of superiority, and simply refuse to share.  We continue to live with people who believe against immigration, who think of other cultures and religions as inferior, who think of the wonderful melting pot of cultures as a parasitic infection that threatens the purity of “races.”  Liberty, politics, and democracy may have sought to change these misnomers, but somehow a terrorist like Anders Breivik sought solace in them.

The crusade of Breivik was against multiculturalism, and it behooves us all to be crusaders for it.  Not because we seek to avenge the 85 (and counting) people who died in Norway, but because we seek to establish that freedom means life, that freedom means respect, and freedom means recognition.  Not because it took a bomb and an automatic weapon to trigger our sensitivities towards the existence of terrorist ideologies with terrorist actions and consequences, but because we’re all products and beneficiaries of what a terrorist sought to destroy.  We join in a crusade for greater understanding, recognition, and respect of multiculturalism and the diversity of cultures brought about by immigration and exodus.

While one person with a belief is equal to the force of thousands who only have interests, no idea is worth the senseless death of one.  While one person with a belief is equal to the force of thousands who only have interests, people with the belief of peace and harmony far outnumber those who believe in terrorism as a solution.  No one man, in his right mind and with respect and faith to others around him, will ever believe the twisted beliefs of Breivik and endorse the violence he caused.

Today, we mourn.  We cannot fathom the extent of grief for the victims, for the survivors, and the nation of Norway.  Today, we rage.  We cannot bear to forgive the act, nor can we bear to endorse the beliefs he stood for.  We are beneficiaries of the differences he loathed and despised, of things he sought to destroy because of his fanatical, maniacal beliefs.  Today, we stand as one, with recognition and respect for color, place of origin, differences in culture.  Our greatest revenge is not to see him brought to justice and stand behind bars with a diverse group of criminals and malcontents, but in living the dream of harmony he so disagreed with.

And yet we are shocked, for in this free world – where we always lived in complete freedom from people who shared an ideology like his – we saw a monstrosity take place in our midst.  We are unnerved.

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