Monday, July 25, 2011

A warm and powerful time in unity

Occasionally, I have faith in my fellow Norwegians.

This afternoon was one of those times.

As international media will tell you, this afternoon was very special for those of us living in Oslo.

It started with a Facebook event, that rapidly spread via national media, friends talking and whatnot. If it hadn't been a planned event, it would have been a very large flash mob.

It was with some trepidation that my colleague and I walked towards RĂ„dhusplassen (the city hall square), as we well knew that a gathering of tens of thousands of people would be a very decent terrorist target.

The general idea was that people would gather there, carrying roses, and then walk peacefully to somewhere else (I've forgotten where). The plan did not survive. One of the major suppliers of plants and flowers said they would sponsor free roses. Every florist was out of flowers in no time, except for potted ones, it looked almost like locusts had passed by.

As we walked on, the crowd density increased, until it exceeded anything I have ever experienced. We Norwegians are very fond of going downtown for our constitution day May 17, or supporting events like the Nordic World Ski Championships or the Winter Olympics in 1994, and the crowds are enormous for a small country such as ours. Those days and events cannot compare.

The sea of flowers, the human warmth and compassion, the sense of unity of purpose – it was almost overpowering, and when Maria Mena started singing Ole Paus's Mitt lille land, I let the tears flow. At the end, we were asked to leave slowly, take care of eachother, and take our flowers – which the arrangers had planned to be placed in a single, potently meaningful place – and leave them all over Oslo.

If you weren't there, I wish you were.