If everyone just had one single person in his life who says, “I will love you no matter what”, then we’ll never end up in mental institutions.
– Leo Buscaglia, “Living, Loving and Learning”
I passed by the centre of Oslo today, the day after the tragic events. The streets are fairly full again, although the never-before-seen armed soldiers guarding the parliament building bring people ever closer to what happened yesterday. There is nothing in the news, or on the national TV channel, other than coverage about the incidents. The nation, which had not hated anyone since WWII, has one enemy today – Anders Behring Breivik, the (or at least one) culprit, a native Norwegian who grew up in Oslo, and who is described by his neighbours as being “sometimes overly polite”.
But right now, I’m thinking of Anders Behring Breivik.
Who is he? Did his parents spend time with him, both playing and learning, when he was young? Does his family still live close to him, visit him and laugh with him? Did he, or does he have a mentor he could talk to when he’s stuck? Did he ever meet someone who would love him unconditionally, instead of saying “I will love you, if …”?
I thought of these questions when they said in the news that his schoolmates remember him but have not kept in touch with him. I found out that Timothy McVeigh, who detonated a bomb which killed 168 people in Oklahoma City (Oklahoma, USA) in 1995, did not feel he had a home and was rejected by women he sought relationships with. I found out that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the high school students who shot their fellow students at school in Columbine (Colorado, USA) in 1999, were bullied at school and turned to bullying others as a way out. I wonder what Breivik’s life was like.
Of course, everyone has had bad experiences and some people can shake them off better than others. But as family, friends, and fellow citizens, it is our responsibility to minimize these bad experiences and to help those who have had a bad experience to come out of it. I feel that we, especially those in Western developed countries, are not doing a very good job at it. We are not doing a very good job at preventing these incidents from happening.
Tonight, I’m thinking of Anders Behring Breivik.