No Sanctuary, Anywhere

The assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme shocked people far beyond the frontiers of Sweden, touching many who had known neither him nor his country.

This mysterious murderer invaded what seemed a sanctuary--a nation that had, with its preoccupation with social justice, constructed a model of democratic government that had escaped this sort of thing in modern times. The target was a man committed himself to peace in terms so uncompromising that he had risked his nation's relations with superpowers to challenge their abuses of power.

The vile cowardice of the terrible crime did not in any way diminish what had been done to expose the vulnerability of everyone to those who seek to impose authority with guns. That sense of vulnerability is the same whether this was the work of a psychopath, a terrorist or a hired killer.

In a sense we were all walking with the prime minister and his wife down the Sveavagen, sharing their sense of security and relaxation, in gentle reflection of the evening's motion picture and the brief encounter with their son a minute before. And then also sharing the sudden devastation that a single pistol and two bullets wrought.

Until that moment we had somehow forgotten: There is no sanctuary, no hiding place, anywhere.

The prime minister of a nation at peace, strolling after a movie in Stockholm, was no less at risk than the Arab mayor of a Palestinian town living under Israeli occupation, or an American city resident trying to elude muggers on the way home, in this interdependent world.

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