Returning to Norway one week after the vile actions Breivik inflicted upon Oslo, Utoya Island, and this peaceful nation in general has been somber. Not only are the horrific events in every paper, on every news report, and in everyone´s conversations, I have even heard children talking. And the stories from the children are the most moving. This morning a twelve year old soccer buddy of Esten´s was telling us he lost his cousin. He went on to say how the teenager and his girlfriend, both killed, had been excited to attend the youth rally, and this young twelve year old was looking forward to a camping trip with this young couple when he and his family picked them up. The same child also mentioned a surviving cousin, an avid snorkeler, that was able to swim to safety despite being fired upon.

The bomb attack in Oslo and the massacre at Utoya Island represent the worst collective trauma to visit Norway since World War II, and the nation is reacting very much like they did before, peacefully.

There are still many victims in intensive care, not to mention daily funerals. Both of which spoil any desire to write. However, a friend and follower of Goodness and Grit reminded me of a story I wish to share.

The Norwegian Paper Clip Story

According to Norwegian national myth, the paperclip was invented by a Norwegian, Johan Våler, in 1901. It was not meant to bind paper, instead, when the occupying Germans prohibited Norwegians from wearing buttons imprinted with the Norwegian king’s initials, they fastened these clips to their lapels or button holes in a show of solidarity and opposition to the occupation.  The humble paperclip became a powerfully simple symbol of national unity, silently stating: "We are bound together." Anyone found wearing a paperclip was liable to immediate arrest.

The paperclip is mightier than the gun, and peace is always the answer.

For more on the paper clip and the Norwegian paper clip myth, check out

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Comment by Melanie McGrath on August 14, 2011 at 4:18pm
What a wonderful story of peace!!



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