By Iliya Pavlovich
February 03, 2006
I am not. I was born is Belgrade, Serbia, but being a self-appointed American (by choice) I gave myself many of the "American rights"- (probably various delusions, that I am still trying to decipher).
In my early views on America as a country and a culture (word culture used in a most generous sense), I saw it fit to endow my son with his European heritage, as I was strongly convinced that the greatness of America is derived from the "frontier spirit" that can be found even among more recent immigrants (like myself). It was that "frontier spirit" that always gave you more power, more resilience, more impetus to try new things and that is why America has produced the most Nobel Prize winners on Earth (probably another one of my partially accurate delusions but maybe it's not).
Let me try to translate the following into English. This a quote from M. Danojlic's book "Personal things" published 2001:
"Kada se samo setim u sta sam sve verovao, koga sam sve uzimao ozbiljno, sta mi se sve cinilo jasno kao sunce ... Ne, ne odricem se svojih zabluda, naprotiv, samo ih idioti nemaju, i jedino ih podlaci ne priznaju. One su sustastvena iskustva naseg postojanja. Do konacnih i nepomerljivih istina ionako se nikad necemo probiti. Ostaje nam dostojanstveno i posteno suocavanje sa nasim ogranicenjima, posrtanjima i protivrecnostima." (Milovan Danojlic)
translation: "When I only think of all the things I believed in, all the people I took seriously, and it all appeared very clear to me No, no, I'm not reversing my delusions, to the contrary, only idiots can have no delusions, and only the crooked ones will not admit to ever having them. Our delusions are integral parts of our existence. To ever arrive at permanent and final accuracy/truth is most impossible so all we have left is our own weaknesses, our own limitations, our own existence and contradictions with daily stuttering in pursuit of [wider truths]."
We are all entitled to all sorts of delusions and they should be guarded and dear to us. Without those delusions we'd be paralyzed in some small Balkan war laden country with God-only-knows what type of tyrant for president. It is our permanent and mature views that have grown out of uncovering those delusions so it's quite good to have them and work with them, never to entirely suppress them. In the following few paragraphs (and images), I shall offer you two widely opposed views on the same people (Serbians), you can choose which delusion to keep, and which to reject.
Here is a rather simplistic (and possibly partially delusional) view on some Serbians that is vastly unknown (even in Serbia).
Let me give you a visual presentation what my son view when he watches me. Here is the image that my son described to me. My nickname often being "buzdovan" the large wooden bat with nails as pictured below. Now in all truth, I am 6'4" and one of the shortest guys among my Serbian friends (strangely enough most are 6'5", 6'6" and over) so we do look like giants and his vision is understood (he is now about 6'4" himself).
Within this colossal image it is hard to see what I determined is a very deeply embedded feeling of justice, democracy, charity and kindness and they all seem totally incompatible with the images I offered here. Let me give you three small chapters (literature, based on eyewitness accounts, published as fiction):
1. During the Winter of 1915 as the Austro-Hungarian forces (mainly composed of Bosnians, Croats, Checks, Slovaks and other Slavic people in light blue uniforms) were advancing through the North Eastern Serbia (Valjevo, Sabac, Macva region), the peasants came out of their homes and gave the passing occupiers prunes, bread, apples, milk or whatever the little food they had. They spoke a common language and it was later established that the conquering army didn't look like the victorious army of the mighty empire, but rather a the scared common-folk grouped by force of conscription and threatened by the Austrian and German officer staff to go to battle. Serbian villagers had this rarest of human qualities (mercy, charity, forgiveness) called MILOSRDJE, for which there isn't even an adequate word in most languages with a few exceptions (Greek: ELEOS, Hebrew: Gemuilt Chasidim)
2. During the retreat of the Serbian Army (Summer of 1916), a Serbian sentinel surprised a Bulgarian (opponent-enemy) soldier who was taking a rare bath in the nearby river. It turned out that the Bulgarian was a sergeant, while the sentinel was only a private. The two languages are somewhat close and it is very easy for them to understand one another (especially in those times when there were no such new words as: cell-phone, TV-set; download, upload, Internet, etc.). The Bulgarian tells the captor: Batko (brother in Bulgarian) I am wounded and I was trying to wash my wound, how far are you taking me? I may not be able to walk any long distance. The Serbian sentinel puts his captive on the back of his horse and walks him a good 11km (7.5 miles) to Serbian headquarters. As the strange party is arriving the young sentinel sees one of the lead commanders of the Serbian Army, General Stepa Stepanovic (later duke - Vojvoda), pacing in front of his log cabin that served as the staff quarters. A day later the young sentinel is summoned to the General's quarters. He is terrified that he will be reprimanded for having given the captured enemy his horse while he walked on foot. To his amazement the General listened patiently while the private was explaining that the Bulgarian sergeant was wounded and could not walk, so in his view there was no need to further torture the one who is already suffering. The General congratulated the soldier and blessed him with words: "may you and yours be prolific and populous so that the face of our nation is always saved by people like yourself, it is an honor for anybody to be your prisoner, as it is an honor to be your commander"
It took the private a few days to fully understand how did he ever earn such praise as in his view he did the only decent thing he could do and barely had any choice in the matter.
3. From the book "Personal things" from Milovan Danojlic published 2001 same type of events that he recalls in his youth (1944 and 1945) chapter "Nasi i njihovi" (translated as Ours and theirs) page 14 in loose translation:
"Before the communist partisans were consolidating their power in the aftermath of WW2, the Chetniks ruled some villages in Serbia proper and their rule was obeyed. As the most villages had members in both armies that were often opposed to one another as well as to German occupiers, the villagers never knew which side to turn to. At an earlier point in the war the village mayor was close to the author's (Danojlic's) father, who was pro-Chetnik and often had advance notices when the chetnik-troikas would be coming to town, usually in pursuit of their prime enemy (the other Serbians who joined the communist lead partisans). Danojlic states that he was often sent on a clandestine mission by his father with words: "Go to so-and-so, and tell them to hide tonight and tomorrow, while "ours" are here. To the common villager "ours" were closer but "theirs" were not immediately discarded and belittled. Danojlic continues:
"A warning to the non-compliants or "theirs", of the impending doom, to be perpetrated by "ours" was, to me, one of the highest forms of tolerance and a deeply rooted democratic principles. Opposing views were tolerated, even understood and guarded, so that even utopian communism was (as bad as it was) watched after and protected in spite of the prevalent opposing beliefs. The communists in those days were thought of as pro-Russians, hotheads, idealists who keep preaching topics of the impossible justice and unattainable freedoms with non-balanced equality. There are stories that should be told, regardless of veracity and fact-finding."
IN CONCLUSION: The present day Serbia (in spite of my son's imagery) is not some God-forsaken country of mountain goats and giants with medieval torture systems, but a simple group of good-natured people who are probably the closest to the American view on democracy in countless ways. So much was the Clinton implemented NATO bombing of Serbia received as a shock by these peaceful people (true even in the most peaceful people there will be criminals, tyrants and similar bad apples) but if the society overall is endowed with such strong Christian values and endless generosity, Clinton should have thought twice about his legacy which will stay forever besmirched by those thoughtless acts.
About: Iliya Pavlovich, PhD,
sociology, culture, Europe, international relations and a frequent
commentator at Baltimore Independent Media Center.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.