A Language Apart

We want to be loved; failing that, admired; failing that, feared;
failing that, hated and despised. We want to stir up some sort
of feelings in others. Our soul abhors a vacuum. At all costs
it longs for contact.
 Hjalmar Soderberg, Doctor Glas, 1905

I read these words six months ago at the beginning of a book titled, One Of Us, by Asne Seierstad. It relates the true story of a man, whose name I won’t mention, who killed seventy-seven people in Norway on July 22, 2011. Eight people were killed by a bomb outside of the Prime Minister’s office in Oslo and sixty-nine more were killed by guns at a youth camp on the wooded island of Utoya. Most of those killed on the island were teenager members of the country’s governing Labour Party.

It was, in the same breath, one of the best and most compelling books I’ve ever read, and one of the most disturbing.

I write these words because every time there is another act of terrorism or violence anywhere in the world, I feel as we all do; angry and helpless. There are no words that can explain the acts committed or the mindset behind them.

Terrorism has its own language; one no rational human being can begin to understand.

The only thing we can do is offer our thoughts and prayers for the loss of so many. For the loss of so much promise and potential; for the lives that have changed; for those taken and those that remain.

Hatred is an irrational and powerful enemy and not exclusive to specific parts of the world. It lives where you live.

Believing otherwise is foolish.

32 thoughts on “A Language Apart

    1. George Post author

      It is both. Tough book, Jodi. First half explains the politics and his fractured home life and hatred of the politics. The second half is difficult. It goes into the detail of the killings and the inadequacy we of the police that prolonged the murders.

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  1. Anne Mehrling

    Those are profound thoughts, George. The two that struck me most were terrorism having its own language and hatred living where I live. I’m going to fill my little corner of the world with as much love as I can, love that points to God.

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  2. Ilona Elliott

    Thank you for this George. The act of terrorism is so irrational, sometimes our response is too. These are hard times and your words are helpful. So many times that is all we can do–be the helpers. Peace.

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  3. Osyth

    It’s the helplessness. The inability to understand how a person becomes conditioned to carry out such a dreadful deed. I have hope. Always hope. That we can if we will find a Peace. Without that I am living a life that has no meaning. The book, I will find. I will read. I know my husband will too. Sometimes we have to disturb our equilibrium and feel very uncomfortable in order to at least try to understand. Even if it seems that the reality is so far from our own ken that we can only struggle like a drowning soul to grasp the merest wisps of clarity.

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    1. George Post author

      Yes, we can’t lose hope though sometimes it seems impossible to grasp.
      You’re right about having to disturb our equilibrium in order to understand what can’t be explained in an irrational world. It’s a book you won’t enjoy in the traditional way but it will help give you a look into the mind of evil and how it was created.

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  4. Almost Iowa

    In the soul of every mass murderer, every terrorist, or even every deranged gangster who murders some hapless victim for “disrespecting” them, is the yearning to be somebody.

    But we should ask what is so wrong about being a nobody? About living a life that leaves no mark upon the world? In our celebrity obsessed society, such a life is the greatest sin – but perhaps it should become something to strive for.

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    1. George Post author

      Being a somebody to those who love and care for us should be enough. Unfortunately, some of these people don’t have anyone and look for a way to become somebody, as you and the opening quote suggest. You’re right, being obscure should be okay but unfortunately , for many, it isn’t.

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  5. Kate Crimmins

    So sad. There are just no words and perhaps no real understanding. I’ve read a few biographies of people who did vile things and most of the time there were background issues in childhood. Doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make sense either as many people with horrific background issues do not kill anyone.

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  6. Ann Coleman

    I think, one way or another, we all want to leave our mark on the world. Those of us who are loved by someone and have someone to love have done that, even if we never accomplish anything else. I can’t begin to understand the mentality of a terrorist, but I think that the quote at the beginning of your post at least points us in the right direction.
    Someday, when I’m feeling strong enough, I’d like to read that book. Meanwhile, I can only pray for the victims, their friends, and their families. Thanks for this insightful post, George. I think it’s what lot of us need right now.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Ann. The quote does give some insight into the mind of someone who may not value life or is just detached from the human race as we know it.
      That book is a tough one to read and not for everyone but I’m glad I did. It helps me understand to some degree.

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  7. aFrankAngle

    As usual, well stated. This was perfect – “Terrorism has its own language; one no rational human being can begin to understand … Hatred is irrational.” (A slight change on my part).

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    1. George Post author

      The book is a tough read, not so much the first half, though his crazy mother, absent father and mental state was disturbing. His distorted hatred of those who don’t agree with his political agenda is similar to what we hear and see with many acts of terrorism or hate crimes today. The second half of the book focuses on what happened on the island and government center. That was very difficult to read. It’s not a book for everyone so I can’t recommend it but it does give some insight into the mind of some of these people. For that reason alone I’m glad I read it.

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