Anders Behring Breivik: The Tragedy of Terrorism in Tranquil Norway

The blond-haired, clean-cut, blue-eyed man who triggered the bomb in Olso and went on a killing rampage at the liberal Labor Party’s camp on Utoya Island, did not look like the dark bearded, evil terrorist we immediately suspect. He looked more like my cousin.

I am an American born, second-generation Norwegian, living in neutral Switzerland, and I am shocked and deeply saddened by the tragedy in Norway.

I feel the pain of an entire nation that mourns the loss of its innocent children, gunned down at summer camp.  What makes it even more unimaginable was that the act was committed by one of its own, in a country that founded the Nobel Peace Prize and has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. Where did Anders Breivik go so wrong? His actions defy everything Norway represents – freedom, tolerance and inclusion.

the fjord of Narvik, by Evanskjaer

the fjord of Narvik, by Evanskjaer

The Norwegians I know are soft-spoken, kind-hearted, and open-minded; a welcoming people, living in a nonviolent nation, equally respectful of nature and man.  Tolerance is a natural birthright.

How are we breeding homegrown domestic terrorism within our greatest democracies?

Freedom of speech also extends to violent expression of the hate groups, zealots and fundamentalists. It is disheartening to think that Breivik followed the teachings of American extremists.

How does the rhetoric of street based groups, which filter into more broad-based political forums, influence individuals? What role does social media play in fueling the flames of hatred? In Breivik’s manifesto, he denounces immigration, multiculturalism and proponents of democracy, which more mainstream groups like the Tea Party also alarmingly condemn.

In our world today, we are so quick to blame anyone whose appearance or beliefs are “different” than the majority – immigrants, Blacks, Arabs, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Jews.  But who is responsible when the avenger is one of our own “Aryans”?  How could Breivik’s mind become so twisted after growing up in a tranquil country as the son of a diplomat?

What enemy lurks within?  For tolerance to become an inherent part of our social fabric, we must confront our own demons and question the soundness of our reasoning, every time we make a snap judgment of an entire people based on the evil actions of few.

As my thoughts and prayers go out to fellow Norwegians, I am also soul searching? What am I doing as an individual to help defeat a social climate that fuels fear and bigotry?

What are we doing in our families, churches, neighborhoods and political parties to promote tolerance and peace, instead of prejudice and hatred?

No matter what color our skin, country we live in, language we speak, political party we adhere to and church we attend; we still belong to the same specie.  We are all brothers and sisters in the human race.

Posted in inspiration, relationships, social view.


  1. Pat, well stated. We cannot stop the ongoing globalization which inherently brings together people of all different races, nationalities, and world views. The entire world is becoming a melting pot of humanity. The sooner we learn to not only accept it, but to wholly embrace it the better off this planet and it’s occupants will be!
    I’m going to share this with all my globally mobile friends and colleagues. It’s time we all took a stand against these misguided individuals and their notions.

  2. Let me clarify my last comment. I don’t necessarily mean to rise up against people and their ideas, but to simply never give up in trying to educate them to the wisdom behind the principles of peace, tolerance and understanding others who are not the same as you.

  3. Extremely sad for Norway and the world. It makes us all ponder why? I do disagree with your assessment of the Tea Party and the statement that this terrorist followed American teachings? I don’t understand why that whenever there is evil in the world, the U.S. gets blamed and gets very little recognition for all the good it does all around the world. There are crazies in all countries, who for unknown personal reasons or their own countries actions, respond in horrific ways, like this crazy man.

  4. Breivik was also a great fan of the Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who vehemently denies that his anti-islam hate mongering could have anything to do with it. On the contrary, he blames the socialists themselves now, for having ignored the so-called ‘problems with islam’.

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