„The future is conquered by those who not only fulfil the region of memory, assemble terms/concepts/ideas and interpret the past, but maybe even more single-valued, by those who empty the memory, shatter and destruct terms/concepts/ideas and produce an artificial past.“
Searching for a place and a way of living, one often looks back at history and a question is inevitable: How have I gotten here and what is my purpose in life? It often comes to one’s mind thinking of the kind of people who, at this moment, decide to engage in political and social deliberation and activism.What kind of time this is, any different from the one that’s passed? Are there people who impress us, motivate us, with their revolutionary ideas, lead us, through the rough path of changes, towards a time and place worth as much as ourselves?
Here is a picture of the present society in Western Balkan countries, mixed in one’s head (not much different from the violent conflict-solving past causing injustice and suffering): This is not a time of optimism, strong hope leading us towards a certain goal. There are no difficult and fateful topics/issues that are put as priorities, no sacrifice that impressed us and gave us the drive to do big things. Instead, non-functional states, political parties in their own self-loving dreams, and no common language or interest for the citizens;no will and ambition at school and work;problems, bile, frustration back at home; hatred and exploding rageon the streets; non-adapted, people without habits – confused, disoriented, anxious; lost, dark and feared faces all around, hiding from each other in order not to face reality in which violence has become the law of the day that justifies itself by inventing and vastly intensifying current differences between ethno-national groups.
Trying to come clear with this, I come to Belgrade to participate in a Study Visit Programme, Youth Reconciliation Ambassadors, together with young people from the region: Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The experience is that we didn’t come there with the impression of how different we are, but how incredibly many things make us alike. We have discovered the frontal differences of the essentially same mentality.The first, intercultural encounter proved us that national heritage/geographical determinants we don’t choose, but should respect who we are and try to be good people with broader sights who connect and solve common problems.Wherever we went, whatever institution we visited, whomever we met and discussed with, one dimension of the programme was always present – history, being aware of and according to it, envisaging the future cooperation of our countries.
What do we learn from history?That makes us wonder howdoes political society dispose of its past. Is past merely a set of objective facts that is imposed to us, or is it fit for interpretative reconstruction that should lead us, through choosing ways of interpreting and presenting the past, to understanding and creating socially relevant knowledge of the past? I recognize this because the substance, course and intensity of remembrance are very much determined by circumstances in the present and by expectations of the future. As we discussed with a historian, we concluded not to take anything for granted. We decided to reject single narratives of history as a means of preparing future conflicts and reached the purpose of it – understanding of what happened in the past and living a modern project of politics that realises our freedom.
Researching my own memory brings me to contradictory and uncertain ‘data’ of past events. That is why I can’t accept reconstructing social and political history from date to date, from event to event, giving the leading role to protagonists from boring, single-minded textbooks, but want to do it through concern and dialogue about ‘ordinary’ big people and their important everyday lives. Life assignment of my generation and the generations after me is to eliminate animosities/hatred that we personally experience or meet on the pages of the books we read. We should always be led by the thought that the same blood runs through our veins. Let us compete in good deeds, fraternity, common and unique ideas and skills, scientific research/work, management success, art achievements, for the purpose of reaching happiness and prosperityof the citizens of the region. This is why I send a wakeup call to, by true democratization, social equality and solidarity throughout the region that don’t recognize and move ethnic, national or religious borders.
Moreover, I deeply appreciate the chance for discussing these topics in Sarajevo after the study visitand spreading the word which opensthe question of education as the key for progressing towards a worthy life: developing social, cultural and individual values and skills to build our future relations, institutions, rules, rituals and habits on. So, the work as a Youth Reconciliation Ambassador should be based on changing the ways we think of our own identities: not one but millions of identities make us who we are and thus, give us a chance to, by rejecting the infliction of the unique and martial identities to credulouspeople, developmulti-perspective deliberation of our past and move toward reconciliation. Aware that, however capable as individuals we were, we can’t shape society alone, but should, adept towards each other, offer alternatives to current inefficient governance, cultivated violenceand, by combining approaches and constant communication, live a present future rather than a past present. We should impose our identities as a set of moral principles, in order for our societies to interiorise a system of values bringing out the best in us; we should expect the political structures to understand and accept the required institutionalisation and proceduralisation of that system of values.
Therefore, coming out as a Youth Reconciliation Ambassador, what happens with the present image of the societies we live in? I work on changing that image, armed with a new sense of reality, a new care for society that searches for the causes of our problems, looking far from my own viewpoint by jumping out of my own skin. I want to change that slashing image by taking responsibility of making political turnovers and telling the truth to society, which leads to fostering democracy, not as a privilege that we can give or deprive someone of, but as a quality that derives from our own maturity, intelligence and need to controvert everything openly, in order to reach the best solutions. I won’t let being insulted if I say I am a European citizen; I don’t want to be damned if I am successful in what I do; I don’t approve of being humbled for being a responsible young lawyer fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between equally smart, energetic, well-organised people with ambition to actively influence our own fate; I ignore being laughed at if I come first at work; I want people not to be offended when I simply seek and point out the significance ofobeying the rules and of thework that has to be done, but fight on for our future that constantly looks at me and says that this certain delusional quality I have is the key for conquering the future:believing it is possible that something different from what has happened in the uncertain past/history can happen…