Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the BIG things...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The children are our future

This post is not about my crafting or my Golden Moments. It does not fit in my Happy Place, which is what this little blog is supposed to be.... It is depressing, it is hopeful, it is honest. It is my personal thoughts and reflections on this special date , that for years to come will cast a dark and cold shadow on even the brightest summerday. This text had to be written to get all these thoughts out of my head. It's long,  and I probably repeat myself and ramble a bit along the way. This is not a political statement, these are only my emotional concerns about the future,  demanding to be put into words. 
If you still want to go ahead and read it, consider yourself warned...: 

22. of July

It's 3 years ago today. 3 years since our peaceful, wealthy and slightly narcissistic little nation was put into a state of unthinkable horror and shock. 3 years since 77 people were brutally killed.
It's 3 years ago - and yet it was yesterday...

This week it all comes back to us: the tears, the numbness, the shock and disbelief from when the first report came about a terrorist attack in the centre of Oslo. The bomb injured hundreds of people and killed 8....The frantic phonecalls and textmessages to everyone we knew who could possible be in the area. (All my friends and family were safe and unharmed! We were lucky. My sister-in-law was having coffee at a cafe one block away from the blast..... Her coffee cup flew out of her hand and across the room. The windows broke into a million sharp pieces that fell on the outside seating area. There was a light rain in the air, so the guests chose to sit inside...lucky)

The utter shock and panic about 2 horrible hours later, when we realized that the terrorist had managed to move to on an idyllic island filled with hundreds of young people on summercamp, with the intent of killing them all...He brutally executed 69 people, most of them were kids. The youngest victim was only 14 years old. 110 were badly injured. More than 300 managed to escape by swimming for their lives away from the island. I know people who were there. I know people who lost loved ones. We all know people who know people affected by this tragedy.

(Photo from the cover of the book 22.07.11)

Norway is such a small country.  We were all affected. It could have been any one of us. It could have been my children....
Who could do something like this in peaceful Norway? Who can hunt down and kill young kids? Who is this evil enemy?

The third shock this horrible day: the massmurderer was "one of us"...The young man smiling at us from the TV screen could have been the boy next door: Blond hair, blue eyes, preppy clothes, posh dialect. The "typical" Norwegian. Not a dark and masked terrorist from a foreign country. When he entered the island he was wearing a policeuniform, and immediately earned the kids' trust -  then he shot them with coldblooded determination.
How did he become so filled with fear and hate? What drove him to do this??
This text is not about his reasons or his twisted ideology. This is not a political message.
These are my thoughts as a conserned human being and mother, on how to build a future where young men do not transform into killingmachines driven by fear and hate.

If one man can show this much hate, just imagine how much LOVE we all can create together....

These were the words of one of the survivors from the island, first spoken in an interview with CNN that horrible day, and soon qouted in all medias the following weeks.

These words are so powerful, and this is how we, as a nation, responded to this terrorist: with an "ocean of roses" "The streets were filled with love" in the days and weeks after the attack. We were determined not to let the terrorist win, and responded to his brutal violence and irrational hate with roses and messages of love. Naive? Passive? Maybe. But what good would it do with more violence and more hate?

This world of ours can be so depressive, so brutal, so scary. The news are filled with devastating reports from Gaza, from Ukraine, from Syria....3 years ago it was all about "The Norway Attacks" ...
It's all too much to take in. It's all so hard to grasp. The attrosities are so massive.

I guess that is why so many of us "escape" into pretty blogs etc.. We create our own " Happy Place" to protect ourselves from all the bad, and focus on the good and beautiful things in life. In my opinion a healthy response, as long as we don't close our eyes and ears entirely for the reality.....

I believe the children are the future

How can we raise our chidren in a cruel world like this? How can we find hope for a peaceful and united world?  Why is it so hard to accept eachothers differences and live together in peace??

Being a parent is an enourmous responsibily, and the task of raising our kids to be responsible and caring human beings is huge! I truly believe that "children are the future", and by helping them to become strong, confident, tolerant, generous and unbiased individuals, to teach them to respect and care for others, to help them see themselves as a part of something bigger than themselves, is helping all of us to build a better world. The future is always in the hands of the next generation, but it is our - their parents- responsibilty to create a solid foundation for them to build our future upon.
How do we do that? I don't have all the answers, but I try my best every day.

Teach them well and let them lead the way...

My children are so lucky. They live in one of  the worlds wealthiest countries, and the standard and quality of living is very high. In my opinion, this privileged life makes it even more important to raise them as concious individuals. We, who have the most, have the biggest responsibilty of all to see beyond our own little peaceful "duckpound".

By that, I do not mean that we should in any way feel guilty about our good fortune, and, as some kind of well-meaning martyrs, reduce our standard of living in solidarity of others. We live here, and our lives are good. I tell my kids to embrace that and enjoy all the joy and beauty life brings them. Use their possibilities to create good, to build values for the future.  Just don't ever, EVER, take this for granted!

This is what I try to teach my children every day. Enjoy what we have, but be THANKFUL, and SHARE with others. Be aware that there is a world out there where the majority is not as fortunate as we are, and try every day to do good, to make someone else feel good. It does not have to be a big thing. Just say something nice to another person, reach out if you see someone look sad and alone, CARE for others.
If a child has this in mind from they are very young, I have high hopes that they will become caring and responsible adults. Some of these responsible adults will become politicians, PMs, presidents: decisionmakers, people with power to make the BIG difference, to change the world. The rest will become caring and responsible "ordinary" people who make the small, but yet important, little difference every day. It's a win- win situation. That is my hope for the future!

(Having said that, I have to add that my kids are NOT saints, nor do I expect them to be. They are kids, they act selfish and spoiled from time to time. They argue, they fight. But I do hope that by creating this awareness in their young minds, they will have a solid, ethical plattform to stand on when the going gets though, and the big decisions have to be made.)

Show them all the beauty they possess inside...

This weekend, despite the depressive news from Gaza and Ukraine, filled me with renewed hope for the future!!
I spent the weekend working as a volunteer at a CISV camp for 14-year olds, and seeing how these kids reflect upon the BIG issues, and the love and respect they all give eachother, regardless of skincolour, religion and nationality is so moving and wonderful to see.
CISV International is a global organization dedicated to educating and inspirating for peace through building inter-cultural friendship, cooperation and understanding. In more than 60 years they have given countless children and young people the experience of their lives and the opportunity to build lasting friendhips through their international educational programmes. (Read more about CISV and the different programs they offer here)

My two sons both participated on a 4-week (!)  long CISVsummer village last summer (at age 11) , and they now have friends all over the world. One went to Brazil and the other to Sweden, and they both had the time of their lives!! They are both planning to go to step-up camp next summer, and I will so incurrage them to do so! When my daughter is 11, we will apply for summervillage for her as well. They have the time of their lives on these camps, bonding for life with children from 12 other countries from all parts of the world. Our sons now skype and chat with kids in Israel, Egypt, the Phillipines, Jordan, USA, Guatemala, China etc. etc.
Catholics, Protestants,Jews, Muslims; different religions, different cultures, different colours, but all best friends and so much alike, despite the differences. New technology makes it possible to stay in touch on a daily basis, even when they live continents apart. What an amazing opportunity this is to create ONE UNITED WORLD! They chat about football, music, girls and everything else kids are into. But we also get a huge doze of reality from these connections, in a much more effective way than watching the news, where the tragedies often go in one ear and out the other. We can't take it all in. It's too much.

The horrible and bloody conflict in Gaza comes very close, when we know a boy who actually live in this area and have to seek refuge from the bombs!!  The tsunami in the Phillipines earlier this year affects us in a much stronger way when we get live reports from my kids friends who is in the middle of the disaster.

These experiences obviously affect my chidlren, and even if they at times act both shallow and materialistic, I know that they already have a broader perspective on the world than many other kids their age. They watch the news with an interest and with reflections that sometimes surprises me.

I believe that my small contribution to a better future, is to actively work to raise consicous and caring children, so that they can grow up to be consious, caring and open-minded adults. This is how we can change the world! By not letting our own fear and anger of the scary and evil  things we don't understand, influence and limit our children, but on the contrary give them the chance to bond across borders, religions and cultures.

Scared people can become dangerous people. Scared people may do scary things. Scared and angry people may kill innocent kids on a summer camp, scared people start wars and shoot down planes filled with innocent people. Scared people can  become dangerous people. Creating fear is the most efficient form of terrorism. Fear is what feed terrorism and make it grow.

I do not want my children to be scared of what they don't understand, even if this world can be a really scary place... I want them to be strong and confident. I want them to see beyond the horrible and biased news reports we receive from warzones and conflict areas. I want them to see the human beings in the midst of all the horror. See that we are all basically the same. See that we all deserve the same respect and love, no matter where we live, how we look, what we believe in.

That means that I have to conquer my own ( and most often irrational)  fear of them getting hurt, and let them "spread their wings", to figure out the mysteries of life for themselves. The good and the bad. I can't protect them from evil, even if I so desperately want to.

After that horrible day 3 summers ago, I really had to force myself to send our own children to summercamp later that summer...My first instinct was to keep them close and never let them out of my sight.
It was even worse last summer when we sent both our sons away on CISV camp for 4 weeks, one as far away as Brazil! As a ( protective) mother, every fibre in my body wanted them to stay at home with me, to shield  them from the scary world out there. Not putting them on that plane without me going with them.
 But how would that have been protecting them? I would only have projected my own fear onto them. Taught them to see the world as a scary place. Taught them to mistrust people.  Made them scared of what they don't know.
We need our next generation to be strong, confident, tolerant and generous.

Scared people can become dangerous people!

If one man can show so much hate, just imagine how much LOVE we all can create together....

                                                  ❤️Live - Laugh - Love❤️


  1. I am so sorry...I did not realize today was the anniversary of this horrific tragedy. Your post is a well written tribute to the friends and families that were affected. Love being sent to all of you from thousands of miles away.

  2. What a wonderful heartfelt article you have written. It is necessary to remember all these things and every time there is something violent and terrible that happens to other human beings, wherever they may live, then may our hearts go out to them. This Planet on which we live seems so full of conflict and unhappiness and what makes all the violence? Where does all the hate come from?
    I remember only too well the horror of that attack on the island and all those young people being brutally killed. I wonder how one human being can want to destroy human life and what imbalance in his own mind pushed him to do what he did. How many lives will never be the same again.

    Maybe our "pretty blogs" help us focus on the positive side our our lives, it does not mean we are not conscious of everything else going on in the world and that we do not think of them.

    Thank you for sharing all you did here. It is good to be nudged into awareness and your closing sentence, from one of the survivors of the island attack is just wonderful: Creating LOVE together. Yes.

  3. I love every word that you wrote hear. As a mother of two kids, I feel the same responsibility and fear. I cannot agree more with you. We have a lot of work.


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