In light of the terrible news coming out of Norway, the Minnesota Young DFL (MYDFL; an organization of which I am the “College Caucus Chair”) has decided to show solidarity with the Workers’ Youth League. After all, the shootings only served as a reminder that there are those in this world who would much rather see progressive ideas dead than realized. Such a reality only puts the onus on us to stand tall, lead by example and be unmoved by the cowardly actions of others.
Because the MYDFL’s website is still under construction, I am storing the letter here. For anyone interested in being a co-signer, please click “attending” on our “Help show solidarity for Norway” Facebook page (here). We will add you automatically.
If you are interested in writing your own letter that we can include in a box of those already collected, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is August 1, 2011, as that will be the day we mail out our package to Norway.
Greetings Workers’ Youth League:
We are writing with a heavy heart to express our condolences regarding the July 22, 2011, shootings in your country. Though the casualty count has yet to be finalized at the time of this writing the fact remains that this has been a global tragedy. There are no words to describe the detestable actions that transpired; instead, all we can do is stand with you in mourning: establish from this day forward a pact of solidarity forever.
Minnesota is one of only two states in our country that does not actually have a “Democratic Party” per se; instead, because of our deep Scandinavian heritage we have “The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party,” or DFL. The youth arm of this is the Minnesota Young DFL (MYDFL) and is an organization dedicated to the same progressive values and principles that guide your own youth organization, the Workers’ Youth League.
Like the AUF we too believe that it is a worker’s right to unionize and that everyone deserves a quality education. Also like the AUF we too believe we have a responsibility to protect and to preserve our environment for future generations. Socially, we too dedicate ourselves daily to combating social inequalities, racism and bigotry in all of its forms.
The slogan of your Norwegian Labour Party is alle skal med, which loosely translates to “include everyone” and serves as a reminder that we all have a responsibility to deal more kindly with one another. Most importantly, it stands as a reminder that it is our responsibility as equals upon this earth to guarantee for each of us – including the least of us – the very humans rights necessary to live a life of dignity. It is the most basic obligation of community, and it is the most basic expectation of every member that comprises it. Yet this is not to say that there are not those in the world challenging this ethic and who would like to see it substituted for something more ominous and less cognizant of the things that hold us together. To these men and women we must not be afraid to rise up and call out.
The following poem comes from one of our nation’s most renowned poets, Robert Bly, and is something we believe fitting for this letter. Bly was born of Norwegian ancestry in a town of immigrants and Norwegian culture here in western Minnesota, and it was on a little farm in Madison that Bly grew up in the 1930s. (It’s the kind of town that if you were to blink while on the road, you could miss it, yet if you were to take the time to stroll beneath the great oaks rising from an empty prairie, you would learn that its roots run deep). It was from this setting that his naturalistic style arose, and it was from the values this community instilled in him that he was later able to use his pen to fight against the great wrongs in our world.
“Call and Answer,” August 2002
Tell me why it is we don’t lift our voices these days
And cry over what is happening. Have you noticed
The plans are made for Iraq and the ice cap is melting?
I say to myself: “Go on, cry. What’s the sense
Of being an adult and having no voice? Cry out!
See who will answer! This is Call and Answer!”
We will have to call especially loud to reach
Our angels, who are hard of hearing; they are hiding
In the jugs of silence filled during our wars.
Have we agreed to so many wars that we can’t
Escape from silence? If we don’t lift our voices, we allow
Others (who are ourselves) to rob the house.
How come we’ve listened to the great criers—Neruda,
Akhmatova, Thoreau, Frederick Douglass—and now
We’re silent as sparrows in the little bushes?
Some masters say our life lasts only seven days.
Where are we in the week? Is it Thursday yet?
Hurry, cry now! Soon Sunday night will come.
In this we took the editorial liberty to strike the words that direct it to the wrongful actions of our own nation, but we did so only with the intent to illustrate that the problems and issues that could fill their places are surely incalculable. Even so, the message is universal that regardless to the cause, regardless to the trial, regardless to the tribulations before us that seem so daunting, we must never forget to call out against those who would much rather destroy than create, hate instead of love.
If it is indeed true that “our life lasts only seven days,” those on Utoeya were living only on their second. So while we are still able, let us call out before Sunday comes! The world is with you, AUF, and in the words of your prime minister: “More democracy, more openness, and more humanity.” For in the end, these are the things that shall prevail. These are the ideas that drive our common history.
Alle skal med!
The Minnesota Young Democratic-Farmer-Laborers