Last update from Olso, December 12, 2010 - Katrina Lantos Swett

On our last full day in Oslo we experienced both sobering and exhilarating moments. We visited the Resistance Museum housed in the ancient Oslo Citadel. The Norwegians were attacked by Germany on April 9, 1940 and fought a courageous and unrelenting battle against their occupiers for five long years until their final liberation in 1945. This resistance encompassed almost every part of Norwegian society including students, soldiers, teachers, ministers, journalists, and untold thousands of ordinary men and women - many of whom paid with their lives for their resistance to tyranny. The Resistance was one of Norway’s finest hours, and it was a solemn reminder that while peace is one of humanity’s highest and most noble aspirations, the world faces a jagged path towards its realization. I found myself thinking of President Obama’s speech when he accepted the Peace Prize last year. This young war-time leader said, “Make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies.” I left the museum pondering his further observation on the “seemingly irreconcilable truths that war is sometimes necessary…but no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy.” Humanity has not yet found a real answer to this terrible riddle.

Yet the Nobel Concert, the culminating gala of the Prize event, seemed to whisper, sing, and even trumpet that peace, brotherly love, and a world built on respect for every human being are indeed within our grasp. The star studded cast was superb- Anne Hathaway and Denzel
Washington served as the co-hosts, and Anne Hathaway was particularly warm and disarmingly natural. The performers ranged from jazz legend Herbie Hancock and Swedish pop star Robyn to the final performer Barry Manilow. The entire audience of the Oslo Spektrum was on its feet, and there was a palpable joy bubbling up from the crowd. The night concluded with the cast and audience singing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” As we later filed out into the cold streets of Oslo, there was a smile on every face and a desire in every heart to do more in our own lives to bring about peace on earth and goodwill to people everywhere.