Consolation, peace, reconciliation, community – these are some of the things we come to mosques, churches and synagogues in search of.
In our despair, in our vulnerability.
Not to find all the answers, but to find consolation. I quote from Sura 113 of the Quran: ‘I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak (...) from the evil of darkness when it is intense’. We find similar words in other holy texts, words that comfort people in this time of darkness.
One minute’s silence. Days of intense pain.
I have come straight from the University Hospital at Ullevål where I met survivors, the seriously injured, young people who will be marked for life. I have also met devastated parents, who will not see their children again.
We will need to stand together for a long time. We are going to need each other for a long time.
We are a deeply affected nation – but we have not been stopped. Norway is up and running. Norway is taking responsibility. Norway is recognisable.
If there was one thing the employees in the ministries hit by the bomb and the young people on Utøya stood for, it was values such as democracy, the rule of law, justice and order. Values that are shared by all good people in this country.
We are standing together across all dividing lines.
At the memorial service in Oslo Cathedral on Sunday, the Prime Minister quoted a Labour Youth League girl from Utøya – words that have been relayed all around the world: ‘If one man can create that much hate, just imagine how much love we can create together.’
This is what the nation is doing now. This is what we are doing here this evening. We are showing love together; we are looking after one another.
We remember – and we look ahead. For this we know: we will move forward and life will go on. As a nation, we will always be marked by 22 July 2011. At the same time, we will not allow time to stand still.
We will go on, take care of each other, and protect our democracy, our open society, human rights and the hopes of young people for a better world.
The most important thing today and in the days ahead is that we take care of those who have the greatest pain – physical and psychological – to bear: those who have lost their loved ones, the injured who are fighting for their lives.
Twenty or thirty years ago, we did not have congregations such as this. Norway is a country that is changing.
Historians tell us that the only thing that is constant is change. How are we to meet these challenges together? How are we to respond to those who are anxious, those who are afraid, those who express hatred?
I believe that hope is to be found in meeting change together from a secure common starting point.
Norway is a democracy. Norway is a state governed by the rule of law. Norway adheres to and respects universal human rights. But with this as a common platform, we can be different.
In the time ahead, this country is going to see a huge debate on how this tragedy could have happened.
The atrocities that took place in Oslo and on Utøya on 22 July 2011 do not originate from outside Norway. They were carried out by someone who has lived in the midst of us.
We must not be too hasty in looking for all the answers. But we will take the debate and the questions that are raised with us as we seek to understand.
The way we do this will be a test of the democracy and the values we share. This is why I find great consolation in the fact that we are gathering in our various houses of God. This is not my house of God – but I feel at home here.
Yesterday, I met a boy from Arendal, who had swum for his life away from Utøya. I told him that I would be visiting a mosque today, and he said this: ‘We who were swimming away from Utøya were not swimming for any god, we were swimming for life. We were Muslims, Christians, atheists and people with other beliefs. Afterwards we came together and focused on what was most important: life, togetherness and the future that we have together’.
I have drawn strength these days from the Utøya I met on Thursday (21 July). Then the sun was shining on the island: young people were having fun, but were at the same time serious as they looked ahead with a resolve to help shape society.
Utøya was a fine example of Norway in all its diversity. A strong community of values and respect for differences.
Both the Prime Minister and I are able to pass on to all who are grieving a huge wave of warmth from all over the world. I receive telephone calls all day long from colleagues from every corner of the world who weep with me over the phone.
The response to what happened in Norway on 22 July 2011 has moved the whole world. We should take this sympathy and support into our hearts.
This is what we take with us as we meet the debates on Norwegian democracy that we have ahead of us. We will do this together, from a common value base, with deep respect for those we have lost.