California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Tragedy in Norway Shows Best and Worst in Humanity

Norwegians make a “flower wall” to pay respects to those lost by the events last month.

The events that transpired in Norway just a few weeks ago sent reverberating shocks throughout the world as people learned of the tragedy in Oslo.

The stark reminder that terrorism and violent extremists exist the world over have signaled the renewal of political and societal discussions over how to prevent such tragedies from occurring.

Arguments exist on all sides ranging from extreme crackdowns to blame placed on policy decisions to outright discrimination against those belonging to particular groups. The bickering and divisiveness that were seen in the debate over the budget deficit share much of these same elements.

It is easy to point out how the actions of that day represent the worst in humanity: our capacity to inflict so much pain. Our capacity to turn towards those actions, thoughts and behaviors that have long marked humanity as the most cruel species on this planet.

It is harder to face up to the fact that as horrible as those events were, they only signal the violent fulfillment of beliefs and ideologies we carry with us each day on every side of the political spectrum.

The problem we truly face is how we continue to promulgate these tragedies through more than just our policy decisions, security guidelines or discrimination against key groups, we promulgate them in our own lives.

Yet as we look at the reaction to the tragedy in Oslo we also see how clearly so many continually choose to embrace the best in humanity and the only possible fix we have ever had to improve our lot as a species.

The outpouring of sympathy and well wishes for those affected by the tragedies were followed by the immediate formation of groups the world over to help aid the people of Norway in dealing with the effects of this horrible event.

It is the same sentiment we witnessed in reaction to 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti and the relief efforts in Japan. It reached across political lines and religious ideologies, yet we overlook this spirit of unison for the divisive qualities of our everyday lives.

We cannot ignore the serious concerns that events such as 9/11 and Oslo provide on the matter of security or the international policies that affect countries like Haiti but it is an even greater sin to ignore how such events have brought forth a spirit of humanity that we rarely embrace beyond quick news clips that warm our hearts.

This is not about fulfilling some empty promise of complete peace on earth or understanding between all people because humanity has proven itself too flawed for such extreme ideals. Instead, it is about balancing those traits we have and always striving to embrace our best qualities.

Just as there are no guarantees that we can ever successfully prevent events such as Oslo from occurring, there are no guarantees that we can successfully embrace these qualities each day in our lives. Yet Oslo reminds us precisely why we should always strive for what so many view as unobtainable.

The tragedy in Oslo was dealt by hands that refused to embrace the best in humanity.

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Tragedy in Norway Shows Best and Worst in Humanity