“The most important thing we can do to stand up against radicalization and violent extremism is to maintain and build on the foremost qualities of our society. The trust we have in each other in Norway is our greatest strength.” – Erna Solberg, Norwegian Prime Minister
Today marks the third anniversary of the terror attacks in Oslo that took the lives of 77 innocent people. We had our last meeting with Steinar and Einar, the head of ISS, and ruminated on the effects of the terror attacks and escalating violence around the world, particularly in Israel and Palestine. Einar said that the man who committed these acts of terror in Oslo wanted to put an end to dialogue. These words have stayed with me throughout the day. At times it is difficult to be optimistic when facing seemingly unsolvable problems, but we also realize the grave consequences of giving up.
We are our own worst enemies when we divide on extreme ends of the political spectrum. When thinking about peace studies, I believe we often focus on what is going wrong in the rest of the world without taking equal time to assess the situation at home. Members of our own communities resort to violence to have their voices heard. How do we discuss the pressing issues at home without individuals feeling the need to resort to acts of violence?
As I began to reflect on my summer here, I realize how thankful I am for the relationships I have formed. Our relationships have formed bridges across nations and countries. Dialogue cannot stand alone as a bridge to peace, but without it we cannot find a common ground to build the foundation of trust.