That was all it took for it to change.
An entire country's views on the world, on their own PEOPLE, changed.
After eleven days of my being there.
The bombing of the government building in Oslo, Norway, took place on July 22, 2011. But first, let's go back about a week before. Tuesday, July 11, 2011. It was my last day in Norway, and my friend and I were getting a tour of the beautiful city from her aunt.
It was a grand place, the bricks were a deep red. Two huge, stone towers loomed over the building; one with a clock that seemed to ring constantly, always reminding the good citizens of this bustling place what time it was. The other was plain, matching the rest of the building, but still none the less unique in it's own way. A quaint, deep green statue rested upon the side of the structure that overlooked the harbor. It seemed like that man with his arms high, and the smaller statues on either side of him staring him down in awe, always overlooked the edge of the world.
Boats rocked on the harbor's docks, the sun shone happily down upon the glistening, deep blue waters of that icy water. Seagulls flew overhead, constantly squawking and landing on other statues' heads. Grand buildings, small boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants surrounded the entire area. To the right of the innocent building that contained the Prime Minister's office was an old castle; the Akershus castle, to be exact. A huge fortress surrounding the area, overlooking a huge meadow of green grass and rolling hills, with a random statue or art work in the middle.
A walkway right between the harbor and government building was where I was. I'll never forget it, especially now. I grinned ear to ear, leaning on my best friend laughing hard at a bird, as her mother stole a snapshot of us with our real smiles on. A median with trees and flowers and bushes and lush green grass stood between me and the building. A fountain with majestic bodies standing atop of it ran as well, and a woman called after her son as he did a belly flop into the water. Happiness and a sense of unity filled me as I looked out past the government building, past the clock tower, which now rang four o'clock. I stared happily at the rolling hills and houses tucked safely away, resting forever safely.
Eleven days later . . .
Papers flew in the air. Smoke began to clear, as dust soon started settling in. Shattered windows lay on the cobblestone, looking at the sky with a lonely expression painted forever on their panes. Screaming and fear sucked the happiness and calm right out of the air in an endless vacuum of what now must seem like forever ago. Deep red bricks slide down in the useless piles they've now come together to create.
Ambulances arrived, along with news crews. An American tourist who witnessed it said it was just like September 11th. Just. Like. It. The man who watched protectively over the edge of the world now lay in pieces, cracked and turned on his side, staring at a new scene - one with much more gore and desperation. The clock was gone, poof. The bell which still rings in my head, lying uselessly on the ground somewhere off a ways.
A few hours later, off the coast of a now grief stricken community and city, as well as capital, a man pulled a gun on a youth camp. Island dwellers and visitors tried desperately to swim away, but not all were successful. After shooting multiple kids and counselors in various areas of the body, the gunman then took a shotgun and shot everyone again in the head, mainly to make sure that no one was playing dead - which many were. A camper said she was behind the rock on which the killer stood. She listened for hours to his breathing.
My heart goes out to all the families suffering the losses of their children, family, and friends. A friend of the family I went with to the country was killed at her camp. She was 15. As Americans, and as a human race as a whole, I do believe we can fully understand the pain that Norway is experiencing right now.
The man who bombed the government building was in his thirties - he's been planning it for about ten years. He wanted all power in the world. He wanted to be the deity that we followed. So he attacked his OWN people to gain such power. It makes me sick to think.
Eleven days. That's all it takes. Eleven days can change lives. Countries. And so, so much more.
From this, to this.
Author's Note: This entire experience has really opened my eyes to see how much hate there truly is in the world. To anyone who may have known a victim of these senseless acts of jealousy and power and violence, my thoughts go out to you.
Sources: First picture - a photo I took from my Facebook profile.