Yesterday, as I followed the news coming out of Norway, I was shocked and appalled. News of the explosion in Oslo and the subsequent shooting at the youth camp in Utøya spilled out on my Twitter and Google+ feeds, and all I could do was watch with bated breath as the scope of the attack became more and more clear. In the evening, I went out to a party. At that point in the night the death toll in Utøya had been confirmed as 10+. When I got back home in the early morning hours I checked the news reports to see if any more information had come out. My heart began to race as I saw the numbers. Over 80 people, mostly teenagers, shot at the youth camp.
“Shock” could no longer begin to describe my feelings at that point.
There have been many larger terror attacks all over the world. There have been many more killed in those attacks. But the visceral impact of a person using a gun to shoot and kill over 80 people is simply beyond my comprehension.
I am generally an optimist regarding the future of mankind. Humanity has been through too many wars and horrors to count, and as it stands our world is a much better place to live in that it ever has been. Yet the implication of evil has not gone away, and such an atrocity as took place yesterday proves that true evil will always exist.
I am an atheist. I don’t believe in God, nor do I believe in the Devil. I have no need for such things. Evil exists, but to attribute it to an outside, supernatural force ignores the truth at the heart of humanity. Our choices define us, and any good or evil in this world is a function of that. The man that took to committing such an unbelievable attack is evil. He is an evil person who acted on evil ideas and with ruthless disdain for everything potentially good in humanity.
Terrorism is a terrible thing, and we all grieve for the victims, but at the heart of such attacks are the people who carry them out. It is impossible to truly understand the mind of a psychopath, or to get in the head of a militant terrorist. Just as we cannot ever really comprehend the boys who terrorized the halls of Columbine High School eleven years ago, we will never be able to properly comprehend the forces that compel a man to blow up a building full of people and indiscriminately shoot nearly one-hundred people at a Summer camp.
There’s just no way. It’s impossible. Such inhumanity is diametrically opposed to all that makes us human. All we are left with is the impact. The initial shock. The visceral disgust. The grief and mourning for those who were lost and a sense of innocence shattered. The implications of such an attack in the heart of Scandinavia will not be fully understood for a long time.
For now, the senselessness of the attack in Norway is something we can only cope with, and when it comes down to it that’s the most horrific thing of all.
My thoughts go out to all the victims and all the friends and family of those who are now only with us in memory.