Torn

Sometimes too many bad things happen at once. This weekend was one of those times. Like so many people around the world, and especially in Scandinavia, I was closely following the tragic bombing and shooting in Norway. I know this sounds like a cliché (and one I actually thought I’d never fall into), but the fact is that because this happened in Norway, it somehow affected me more than if had happened in many other countries. Somehow it just seems as if what can happen in Norway or Sweden can also happen in Denmark.

Saturday evening however, something else caught my attention. Once again violence had broken out in Cairo and this time it seemed bad. After three months in Egypt I already have many more friends here than I ever got in Beirut. And while most of my friends there were non-Lebanese, all of them here are Egyptian. So I spent most of Saturday evening looking at my phone – on Twitter for updates about Cairo and on Facebook for updates about Oslo.

And suddenly I felt very torn. Because my friends in Denmark had no way of knowing that once again teargas could be smelt in the streets of Cairo. Just like my friends in Egypt had no way of understanding why the blood flowing in Oslo meant something more than just the loss of innocent lives. It made me realize how much I’m living in two worlds and that sometimes they just can’t be combined.

But sometimes they can. This was a poem written by the Norwegian poet Nordahl Krieg in 1936. It is called “For the Youth” and later music was added to it. The events in Oslo has made it come to life once again. And after listening to it, I realized that this is not just a song for Norway’s youth. It is a song for young people all around the world. It is a song for the Egyptian youth.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find a literal translation. This one is made to be sung, but the general idea still stands clear:

 

English translation
By Rod Sinclair (2004)

Faced by your enemies
On every hand
Battle is menacing,
Now make your stand

Fearful your question,
Defenceless, open
What shall I fight with?
What is my weapon?

Here is your battle plan,
Here is your shield
Faith in this life of ours,
The common weal

For all our children’s sake,
Save it, defend it,
Pay any price you must,
They shall not end it

Neat stacks of cannon shells,
Row upon row
Death to the life you love,
All that you know

War is contempt for life,
Peace is creation
Death’s march is halted
By determination

We all deserve the world,
Harvest and seed
Hunger and poverty
Are born of greed

Don’t turn your face away
From needs of others
Reach out a helping hand
To all your brothers

Here is our solemn vow,
From land to land
We will protect our world
From tyrants’ hand

Defend the beautiful,
Gentle and innocent
Like any mother would
Care for her infant.

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2 Responses to Torn

  1. mayyasi says:

    You will be surprised to know that i felt so sad to Norway! then I realized that my short visit to Denmark made me feel like this!
    and no comment about the Middle East :S

  2. Becky says:

    I completely feel you, unfortunately I think it is natural that we feel stronger about the things that are closer to us, that we feel more of a personal connection to. I think we’d break down if we had to feel everything equally, because of all the pain and suffering in the world.

    I love this song btw, you can also check out Kim Larsen’s version on youtube 🙂

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