My Bosnian Spring

Everything seems out of tilt at the moment. Mother Nature brought spring early to our door even if we never really started any sort of winter hibernation. And now the early spring of late winter has brought on the Bosnian spring. I’m not so sure this is going to bring about meaningful transformation, though, despite the calls from many people I know and respect who are happy to finally see its arrival. Let me tell you why.

There is no doubt that things have reached their boiling point. I’m surprised we managed to put ourselves on simmer for so long in the first place. The injustice that rules our lives and our country is, in the slightest of terms, despicable. But have we asked ourselves the right questions…if any at all?

protests

1. What is it that we really want? We rage about change yet haven’t really defined what kind of change it is that we are truly seeking. To be honest, I get a feeling that if laid off workers got the pathetic compensation and the measly benefits they are demanding they would would turn around and head home. The youth are just plain pissed off because, for them, everything pretty much sucks. I get it. But ‘We’ want ‘them’ to ‘change’ ‘things.’ Too many abstractions if you ask me. ‘They’ have already shown that the status quo works just fine for them. And ‘we’ put them exactly where ‘they’ are. So I ask, what exactly do ‘we’ want? Do ‘we’ even know?

2. We aren’t very good at seeing through anything to the end. We seem to have the attention span of a 2-year old. The politicians on the other hand, are incredibly gifted at riding out storms. One of the hang-ups I’ve always had about Bosnia is our lack of vision. We don’t have a clear vision of where we would like to be and how we are going to get there. Whatever that vision is will surely take a whole helluva lot of work. And work is not our strong point. How many of us are really ready to pull up our sleeves to get down to the real business at hand…and the real business at hand is social transformation. It won’t come on its own or by any supreme power. And it requires getting fucking busy. Nerad is our biggest enemy.

3. Some have said that these ‘balvane’ who run this country don’t respond to anything but violence. I beg to differ. Beyond a shadow of a doubt this will be a wake up call of some sort. How effective it will be, only time will tell.  The Arab Spring didn’t produce many desired results. We haven’t seen the Arab world blossom or democracy sweep through northern Africa and the Middle East. Quite the opposite. We tried violence. It hurt. And it hurt badly. Do we really want to go back down that road? I surely don’t. My memory of the pain and suffering due to the ultra violence of the 1990’s is more than fresh. It’s a place I don’t want to go back to and a place I will do anything to keep my son from experiencing. We can burn buildings and go at it with the police…but what is it we are aiming to achieve by doing so? I’m afraid not too many of us have the answer or have even thought of the questions we should be asking ourselves.

I’m not pretending to be a smarty pants. I don’t have many answers for the Bosnian quagmire. I do have a different take on the revolution, which, as I age, I see as the evolution of the mind (and so did Public Enemy). Change may come by violent uprisings but I ask is it the change we truly seek?

My revolution looks a bit more like this:

1. Boycott. Where it really hurts is not in the buildings where they reside but rather the funds they plunder on a daily basis. Civil disobedience comes in many forms. Sit-ins. Protests. Boycotting products tied to the corrupt elite or even refusal to pay taxes is, in my humble opinion, the most effective way to get their undivided attention. A collective boycott hurts and hurts bad.This requires us to educate ourselves and pulling our heads from the sand. If we want to see, we need to look.

2. Refusing to partake in the culture of corruption and NERAD. That means that we stop looking for stela to get a document or see a doctor or to pass an exam. It means that we stop taking shortcuts and start doing the work that is required to bring a society back on its feet. It is time to go to work.

3. Run for office. Or at least get involved. At the risk of sounding like Michael Moore, I really think there are a tremendous amount of talented people who (for very good reason) have been sitting on the sidelines. Political activism comes in many forms. The bottom line is that our country has been hijacked by a hoard of thieves and we have, by and large, either put them there or sat watching as they do their dirty deeds. It’s no time to rest on our laurels.

4. Many complain, myself included, that the war days were ‘better.’ The reason they were better is because we lent each other a helping hand. There was an unspoken solidarity among neighbors, friends, and perfect strangers that has all but disappeared in Bosnia today. Community, strong communities, is where social change takes place. It starts in the mirror and takes roots in our communities. Waiting for ‘them’ to solve our problems is a waste of hope and valuable energy.

Now perhaps I’ve got this all wrong. Maybe the powers that be will truly respond to the threat of violence. My guess is that they do NOT have the capacity to adjust their moral compass and that even the threat of riots will not curve their behavior. They will only scheme and scam more on how to spin this in their interest for the up and coming elections.

The rage and frustration that every citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina is more than justified. And yes, we all need a vent when things get as bad as they’ve gotten. In that respect, I stand side by side with every normal member of our society who are earnestly searching for social justice and who are willing the pay the price to achieve that justice. If we’re going to burn down buildings simply for the sake of expressing our youthful rage, I’m afraid we’re barking up the wrong tree.

I believe social change is not only possible but probable. Whatever we’ve ‘tried’ so far has not worked. Maybe this will. I have my doubts. I understand this. I am not surprised by this. But I do question its form.

America had a supreme opportunity after 9/11 for some serious self-reflection. I feel in many ways we missed that great opportunity. I think these riots in the streets of Bosnia need to be a wake-up call directed at no other than us. WE need to be awoken. They are wide awake, robbing us blind whilst selling us the lies of division and fear. We are the sleeping ones in need of a wake up call.

Let us be wise…and awake. peace.

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