I am without words, and my heart is full of sorrow for the more than 90 youth and adults who were senselessly killed in a terror attack in Norway. I have already called my closest friends there to express my personal condolences, and to offer whatever help the Operation HOPE family and I can offer.
As if Norway was family to me, over the past 24 hours I have received many personal and heartfelt messages of condolence around the brutal and inhumane attacks on Norway and her people. Well, Norway is family to me.
This is my opportunity to say this publicly, and to say without question or reservation, that I stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, and heart to heart with my friends and partners there, as they work their way through this heart wrenching time.
My relationship with Norway goes beyond my deep and abiding, brother-like friendship with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, co-founder with me and Professor Pekka Himanen of Global Dignity. Or my friendship with Crown Princess Mette-Marit, or the other members of the Royal Family and various staff there.
It goes beyond the many good and decent people I have come to know there over the years, and the numerous trips I have made there for Global Dignity, or what we have come to refer to as our "Oslo Meetings;" deepening even further my bond with Norway.
It starts — with my connection to the children of Norway, who in many ways could not be more filled with love and care for others, or more well balanced and genuinely interested in the rest of the world around them (particularly the less fortunate parts of our world).
Before this crisis, and as a direct result of their loving environment, and their rearing and preparation for the responsibility of life after childhood, I would have said that they were increasingly ready to step forward to lead both a great nation, as well as a newly emerging, complicated and challenged world in the 21st century. Knowing that part of this heartless terror attack was focused on a defenseless youth camp in Norway tears me at the level of the soul.
Youth are our most vulnerable, the least responsible for any sins of our collective past, and with a little help and nurturing, the most capable of a new era of Love Leadership; truly making a difference in our world.
Now, today, the question that nags at me, even in the midst of my sustained "hope," is what does a ruthless attack of terrorism like this do to the soul of children, or of a nation for that matter?
Will they become understandably less vulnerable, less open to the world, more cynical, maybe even more insular with their care and outreach?
Will Norway, one of the wealthiest and most caring nations in the world today, pull back on the global leadership they have have provided for humanitarian aid and care for those less fortunate?
I don't think so, is my answer to all of these questions.
Like rainbows after storms, and Loss that Creates Leaders, I think that Norway will emerge stronger, more unified, more engaged, and even more concerned about the world around them. This will make them stronger, more resolute, and more relevant in the world debate around what comes next, and how we get there. Their role model to the rest of the world, like my friends in Japan after their recent crisis, is one of inner-dignity, and "purpose" larger than self.
But, in the short term, is just hurts. It simply, hurts.
I am hurting too, right along with my brothers and sisters of Norway.
This is when saying you are a global citizen is suppose to mean the most. Hurting them, hurts me too, but the story of the great people of Norway, is far from over. And more so, I am vowing personally, to make sure that those who lost their lives, did not do so in vain.
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama