Every man is a piece of the continent…

Today I accompanied my President, Staffan Nilsson, to the Norwegian Mission to the European Union, where we signed the book of condolences. It was impossible not to be moved. A simple white-clothed table, two candles, a white rose and the condolences book, a steady stream of people of all ages, joining the silent queue. And people had clearly thought about what they wanted to say. They brought texts and copied them carefully into the book. They took their time, some times a long time. I hope that these expressions of solidarity and sympathy will somehow find their way to the Norwegian people who have, collectively and at every level, given us all an object lesson in responsibility and dignity. My quotation had to be John Donne: ‘every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind.’ We are all involved in the Norwegian tragedy.

1 Comment

  1. Cleveland Moffett

    I was struck by something Breivik’s lawyer said about him yesterday: “He believes that he is in a war and in a war you can do things like that.” We all know what “things like that” refers to, and he’s right, it is perfectly permissible to kill non-combatants, and by the thousands. The difference is that those deaths are authorized. The people responsible are either our duly elected leaders or tolerated autocrats. I hope it is clear that I speak as a pacifist.

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