Jo Nesbo on What Norway Lost "Not even the brightest future can make up for the fact that no roads lead back to what came before--to the innocence of childhood or the first time we fell in love," writes novelist Jo Nesbo in The New York Times. Until Friday's bombing and shooting, Nesbo says, Norway seemed to him a peaceful place where everyone was cared for and political consensus reigned. He recounts a moment when he biked through Oslo with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg. A passing car rolled down its window so that a little boy could shake the prime minister's hand, and Stoltenberg's bodyguards stood by smiling. "It's an image of safety and mutual trust," he recalls. "Of the ordinary, idyllic society that we all took for granted."Even in a nation that normally distrusts loud expressions of "national self-glorification," a Monday night gathering of 100,000 Norwegians struck him. "The gathering said that Norwegians refuse to let anyone take away our sense of security and trust. That we refuse to lose this battle against fear," he writes. "And yet there is no road back to the way it was before." On the train this week, he says for instance, he heard a man shouting angrily. Rather than look in curiosity is he might have before, he instead checked to see that his daughter was safe in case the man proved dangerous. Still, if this new fear never dissipates, Nesbo writes, Norwegians have nothing left but to be brave in the face of it, "to refuse to let fear change the way we build our society."
Alan Beattle on Dysfunctional Government Europe and the United States have developed coinciding economic crises, notes Alan Beattle in the Financial Times. Each form of the governmental dysfunction which helped them along is distinct from the other, he suggests. "In Europe's case, the problem involves a somewhat successful model of policymaking being applied in an increasingly inappropriate environment." Meanwhile, there is "America's case, a political system purpose-built to force compromise is increasingly being run by politicians who make a virtue of intransigence," he writes. The increasing polarization of the parties, mixed with the Tea Party's inexperience forging compromise, "now risks putting someone's eye out." Beattle concludes that both Europe and the U.S. will likely escape these particular problems. "But these problems, and others like them, will recur--and Europe and the US will respond poorly as long as there are deep flaws in the structures of their governments that turn challenges into crises."