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Sunday 24 July 2011

Been very thoughtful today...

First off, the news from Yei; Forget what we told you yesterday, here is more information that we'll change again tomorrow... Welcome to the UN.
Yesterday we got some solid news at least, names and dates for those who were supposed to go home for repatriation (a fancy word meaning the UN won't have you working in the mission no more). Today we got official word to disregard yesterdays list since FHQ (Force Head Quarter) don't even know who is supposed to stay and who is supposed to leave - never mind who is supposed to go to the new mission in Abyei.

However, most of the day have been taken up by the normal Sunday activities (housework and laundry) and thinking. And with the attacks in Norway on Friday, I have had a lot to think about... and I would like to share at least some of it with everybody:
On one hand it's been hard to be so far away from home when shit like this happens, since I can't do anything. On the other hand it has actually been good to be so far away - since there is nothing I could have really done if I had been home either.
Home grown lone wolf terrorism is something that is very hard to protect against. Like the Oklahoma City bombing in '95, all it takes is one crazy idiot with a severe lack of empathy and a delusional world view. But it is my hope and my belief that this will not change Norway or Norwegian society. We might improve on the security, we might be better about keeping an eye on the extremists... but I think Norwegians will still be Norwegians, warts and all. We cannot and should not let terrorists - either they are lone wolfs or orgainsed - dictate how we live, think and behave. We cannot and should not wrap ourselves in a cocoon of checkpoints, regulations, and surveillance and believe that it makes us safer. We cannot and should not let this change whom we are, deep down.
I have to hand it to the Norwegian Prime Minister... I don't always agree with the things he says, but he put it very pointedly and clearly in a press conference on Friday evening: "You will not destroy us. You will not destroy our democracy, or our commitment to a better world." "We are a small country nation, but a proud nation. No one shall bomb us to silence, no one shall shoot us to silence, no one shall scare us out of being Norway."
There is a poem written by the Norwegian poet Inger Hagerup in responce to another act of terror, that I feel summarises many of my - and I dare say; other Norwegian's - feelings in response to the acts of terror we witnessed on Friday. It's called Aust Vågøy and was written after the German occupiers in Norway had razed the village of Telavåg, sunk all the fishing boats, sent the male population to the concentration camps in Germany and imprisoned the women and children. It was meant as an act of terror to scare the Norwegian population into submission...
It didn't work - or rather, it had the exact opposite effect. And that is the effect I hope and expect will come from this recent act or terror as well; instead of changing Norway to what the terrorist had hoped to create, it will just strengthen Norway as have been up to now.
Aust Vågøy

De brente våre gårder.
De drepte våre menn.
La våre hjerter hamre
det om og om igjen.

La våre hjerter hugge
med harde, vonde slag.
De brente våre gårder.
De gjorde det i dag.

De brente våre gårder.
De drepte våre menn.
Bak hver som gikk i døden,
står tusener igjen.

Står tusen andre samlet
i steil og naken tross.
Å, døde kamerater,
de kuer aldri oss!

Aust Vågøy (Translated version)

They burned our farms.
They killed our men.
Let our hearts beat hard
Again and again.

Let our hearts strike
with hard, painful strikes
They burned our farms,
they did it today.

They burned our farms.
They killed our men.
Behind every man who died this day
Thousand's more still stand.

There stands thousand more together
In complete and utter stubbornness.
Oh, our dead friends,
They'll never break us!

It loses somewhat in translation, like poems often do, and finding a good translation was difficult. But I hope the intention behind stands out, even so.

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