Don’t believe the hype

Yup, Sabina was right. Definitely not much flowin’ off the fingertips.

Danis Tanovic’s film won the Silver Bear at the Berlinale. That made me happy.

The topic of his film made me sad. Or maybe even mad. But problems don’t get solved until we start talking about them. So let’s hope we start talking. Thank you Danis.

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There’s never a shortage of saddening, maddening and riveting stories to be told from Boz. Luckily we have wizards like Danis and a long list of others who are trying to steer us down the yellow brick road.

And although Boz’s (and in particular Sarajevo’s) artistic community can be rather dysfunctional, whether they know it or not, they are our knights in shining armor. They are a good bunch. I just wish they’d see it in each other a bit more than they do.

There are a lot of things about Boz that make it special. Constructive discourse is usually not one of them. The more time I spend here in the states, the more I come to the sad conclusion that the rift between the whopping two options of this two-plus centuries old democracy is only widening as well. Granted, I was a whee lad of 21 when I left but I have been back and maintained regular contact ever since. People on other sides of the aisle – and no, I’m not just talking about politicians – can barely speak to each other without rage. Who says Bosnia and America are worlds apart?!

So I ask myself, have the profound scars of the soul from the Bosnian war and 9/11 shaken and driven us so far into our respective corners that we are not willing to come out unless we’re swinging?

When and why did other people’s beliefs and ideas stop mattering? And why oh why do we mercilessly slap these dehumanizing labels on each other? Is that our excuse to not listen? If I’m honest to myself, when I think of my many friends who tend to share much more ‘conservative’ views than me – on both sides of the ocean and aisle – I understand and embrace many of their values. Whether it be a Christian Republican from the south or a conservative Muslim from Sarajevo, there is always common ground to be found. Always.

And that’s where we feel most comfortable, n’est pas?….in a space and place where we feel like someone can see, feel, and understand our point of view. It at least gives us a starting point. It at least establishes some trust. It may even encourage us to put the gloves down. Perspective really can pack a punch.

If there was ever a need for a fresh perspective it would be now. Because regardless of what we individually believe to be best, or the values and ideals that we hold so dear, we do happen to share space with a lot of people who, naturally, think differently. Democracy comes with a shitload of responsibilities – numero uno for me is the one we have towards each other. Don’t buy into the vitriolic rhetoric that makes our blood boil – that’s what they want, to keep us on each side of the ring so they can continue the pillage of our wealth and our minds while we duke it out.

Behind the sometimes harsh, thick-headed bravado of the Balkans and the obnoxious, self-aggrandizing, ‘we-walk-the-moral-highground’ attitudes of Americanism I see a lot of tin-man’s, lions, and scare crows lurking in the midst…just waiting to be listened to and understood. And sure, I’ll admit it, a lot of people don’t seem to deserve our undivided attention or any attention at all for that matter. But if we don’t try, who will?

I’ll just keep clicking my heels hopin’ to find home. Anyone seen Toto?

 

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