Monday, 25 July 2011
The Norway Massacre and Empathy - Processing a Tragedy
The recent events that took place in Norway on July 22nd are horrific; the Oslo bombing and the massacre of children on the island of Utoya. The world is still reeling from news of these events, and the more sensitive among us are still trying to process the severity and psychological shock of a mass-killing of children. To begin with a barrage of near-absolutist pronouncements about conspiracy theories, false-flag terror attacks and sinister geopolitical manoeuvring seems insanely premature and cold-hearted at worst, and at extremely distasteful and presumptuous at best.
Now, I understand that in the face of violent chaos the desire to contextualize and ‘figure out’ is all the more pressing, but with such little time elapsed between the atrocities themselves and our conspiracy theorising – what do we really stand to gain from this almost-default position? The fact is this is not a movie, or Call of Duty – Modern Warfare; this is real life with real people. When bombs go off and bullets are fired they have shockingly profound consequences for all involved. The families of those murdered children have to face the crushing, unblinking continuity of their lives without the presence of their loved ones. For them there is no cutting-away to other scenes, no sinister villains revealed and vengeance taken – just the banality of terrorism and child-murder reaching into their personal lives and changing everything forever. The bodies haven’t even been buried yet, and already large swathes of the alt-media are treating the event as little more than a strategic chess move by the Sinister Others. But by swallowing such a perspective so readily and so quickly, might we not be guilty of the same heartlessness and desensitized perspective of which we accuse these Sinister Others?
Here I would like to point out that I do not immediately dismiss the idea of sinister goings on behind the scenes with regards to the Norway bombings and massacre, and by the same token I don’t immediately accept it. What I will attempt to do is take time to process the shock and horror that I feel about these events, whilst trying to remain empathic and open to the very real details and consequences of this tragedy. It is one of the biggest mass-shootings of children in recent memory, and its repercussions will be felt long, long after it has become just another dark historical footnote. Those families and friends will be grappling with it forever, a lot longer than the attention span of both the mainstream and alt-media. At some point I will begin to research all avenues and possibilities with regards to the events of July 22nd and I will come to my own conclusions. In this way I will hope to process my shock and horror utilising my tools of logic, intuition and discernment. Ultimately we are only after the truth, but we must attempt to reach for that truth in a way that doesn’t turn us into all the things we claim to oppose – a method that doesn’t relieve us of our feeling, empathic human nature. This also includes the strength to admit that our initial judgements may have been wrong, regardless of what biases we bring to the table.
As a qualifier to this post I would add that the history of the world is built on the backs of various sinister conspiracies, but it is also built on the backs of various acts of random violence and extreme cruelty – where no sinister guiding hand was present or necessary. Discernment in this case is about being able to make an honest, intelligent and informed judgement based on the data available to you. I have no doubt that false-flags occur and have been occurring for a very long time, and will continue to occur. I also have no doubt that lone-wolf terrorists and mentally-ill psychopaths make bombs and pick up guns with the intention of killing people, they have been doing so for a long time and will continue to do so.
But when we are so quick to draw conclusions, or apportion blame to the sinister faceless Others, I feel we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are not giving ourselves time to grieve and gather our emotions and thoughts, or we are dismissing the banal, local forms of lone-wolf violence that are an all too real presence in our world. When events like this occur it affects ALL of us, some on levels far more chilling and immediate than others – and how are we expected to think critically when we pay such scant attention to the actuality of the blood spilled and the families shattered?