To the people of Oslo,
I want to write to all of you to express my profound sympathy for the horrifying attacks that your city has experienced this week.
Of course, my heart especially goes out to those of you who lost loved ones in the two attacks, or who were yourselves injured or traumatized. I can't really imagine what it would be like to be a victim of such a shocking act of violence, and I wish you lots of time to recover and surround yourselves with love and comfort. Your fallen friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues will be remembered with love, and all over the world, people are praying for them to rest in peace.
But even to those of you who were not as directly affected, I want to send my prayers and wishes as well. I know that it's hard to describe the effects of just being in the same city as such an attack — I myself lived in Washington, DC at the time of the 9/11 attacks, and it was one of the most upsetting days of my life. News travels fast these days, but so does rumor, so you can spend hours not being sure of what's going on just a couple of miles away, not knowing if your loved ones are safe or not. Any sound you hear or unusual sight you see, you have to wonder if its part of the looming disaster you're hearing about through every source of information. It is literally like a nightmare, not just in the sense that it's terrible, but in that it's surreal and confusing and you can't be sure what's true.
I know that if you didn't lose someone personally, or suffer personal trauma, the impulse is to be strong and insist that you aren't really a victim, and concern should be focused on those who were more hurt than you. Of course, that's a noble impulse, and I respect it. But my sympathy and solidarity lies with all of the people of Oslo, with the city itself, a beautiful and cosmopolitan capital which will recover to be just as strong and proud as ever. I know that you are capable of overcoming this trauma, but I know that it won't be easy. For as long as it takes, my prayers are with you.