Youth can make a difference
During November 2017 I had an opportunity to give lectures to high school pupils from Berane (Montenegro) on the subject of radicalization and violent extremism of youth: global and local context. It was very challenging for me as professionally this was my first engagement within this area of expertise, but also since this is completely new topic in our public discourse: I was excited and afraid at the same time.
After Global Summit in Aarhus, Denmark, I knew what to do. People in general, especially young ones, don’t like too much theory. They like examples. And since storytelling is getting more and more useful method, because it can put listeners in front of the final act, emphasizing moral side of the story, I decided to focus on some stories of people that I know from my life and professional experience, but not saying their religious or ethnic background. It was my decision and good one.
The moment when I started with telling to my audience about life story of my friend, whose father and cousins were killed during bloody war that happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 90s, was the moment when I got their full attention. They knew I was telling the truth, they knew I really know that person and what was evidently- they felt empathy by shared identity. Shared space and time was also very strong determinant of later discussion on moral side of the story.
Main point of this story is that today, after many horrible things that have happened in her life, my friend does not hate people that are different religious or ethnic background than she is. She says that those people who committed that war crime were individuals, not majority. Don’t judge by a page about the book or don’t make logic mistake pars pro toto. The moment when I heard her side of a story was the moment of my personal growth. Even I was not radical, now I say that it was a beginning of my deradicalization. I wanted to share it with them.
And their reaction to my storytelling had different shapes. I guess it depends on many factors, among which I would emphasize attitudes deriving from family. But if I would take into consideration all four workshops, I could say: they emphasized human dimension of the story. They think that living without hate is the best option in my friends’ life and it was good thing to do.
Some of them disagreed and I asked them what my friend has if she hates a person without any reason but being different in any way. Because differences are making every society more rich, except if political elites abuse it, and that was exactly what has happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They could not give me an answer. Because hate is not a right solution.
One of the greatest writers of ex Yugoslavia, Mesa Selimovic, said in one of his books that there are more good people in the world than evil. Much more! Only evil is further heard and harder to feel. Good ones are silent. And I really believe in his words. That’s why I see my purpose in engaging in this global efforts to make our young people live without prejudices and stereotypes of any kind, in more secure world. Because they can make a difference between good and evil and that is good thing to know!