A month or so ago I had decided to read up on the Bosnian War. I realized that I didn’t really know much about that war at all and it became important to me to get a sense of that conflict and the environment, experiences and issues that were a part of that region of the world in the early to mid-1990s. Let me just stay that it is sad and pathetic the number of books, resources, etc. on the market involving this war. I found two books at Barnes and Nobles regarding the war (neither were general overviews or directly related to the Bosnian War but rather focused on one key individual or the weapons/methods of war.) Hastings – nothing. Amazon.com – more Bosnian/Yugoslavia history rather than specifically focusing on the Bosnian War. Finally, I went to our downtown library and came across the book Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War by Peter Mass, a journalist during the war. (See my "Feel the Rhyme" typelist in the left column for details on the book.) I checked it out and had not touched it for about three weeks and just got to it this week. I’m halfway through this fascinating, sickening, and horrifying account of what happened throughout Bosnia during the early 90s. It is heartbreaking and terrifying what one human being can do to another human being. One of the first accounts in the book left me literally nauseous – something that does not happen to me often. When you read such things, even eye-witness, first-hand accounts, you do not want to believe them. You want to find some loophole or some shred of something that might convince you that it is made up. That no person could willingly do this to another person. But that isn’t the case. And this kind of soft, gutless hope is why so much evil is allowed to exist and continue. Edmund Burke once said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, Germany . . . and so many other testimonies to the depravity of man and the power we give to it by our choice to do nothing. This is mirror talk more than anything. Believe me – the finger I’m pointing is pointed at me. That is where it must begin – one. The one person you have control over – yourself. How do I live in such a way that I remember that all of humanity is my family – all creations of God? How do I develop a heart that is global in its thoughts, love, prayers and sacrifices? How do I choose to live so as not to help evil triumph?
A friend told me not too long ago that war will lead you to have gratitude for things that we often take for granted. War will burn into your mind images that will serve to remind you that you don’t have it that bad. Not even close. War will put things into perspective. War can do all these things – if you choose to learn these lessons and remember them. I can only speak from my imagination. I have never been directly involved in war; I’ve never served in combat; I’ve never physically been to a place of war at the time of war. I speak from complete ignorance. I have only seen the changes to landscape after years of battle. I have only read and heard the personal stories of those who have fought and those who have been victims. I have only my imagination and empathy to help me try and grasp what it is like. But even a tiny portion of these secondary things that I have experienced should be enough to help me remember. . . . right? Then why do I keep forgetting? Why do I take things for granted? Why do I not make more of a conscious effort to live my life in such a way that contributes to the care, protection and provision of my global family?
Scripture has much to say about this. Why don’t we talk about it more?
Peace for all – Melissa