“If you take a look at Sarajevo at any time of day, from any surrounding hill, you will always inadvertently come to the same conclusion. It is a city that is wearing out and dying, while at the same time being reborn and transformed. Today it is the city of our most beautiful longings and endeavors and bravest desires and hopes.”
My scars run deep and the wounds have never fully healed despite the years that have come to pass. Ivo Andric once said “If you take a look at Sarajevo at any time of day, from any surrounding hill, you will always inadvertently come to the same conclusion. It is a city that is wearing out and dying, while at the same time being reborn and transformed. Today it is the city of our most beautiful longings and endeavors and bravest desires and hopes.” This is what my birth city Sarajevo has always been to me: a city of longing, desire, and hope.
Being born during escalating nationalistic tensions in Bosnia and having to flee from city to city has left a lasting impression on my personality and global perspectives. There is no better way to describe the outcome of war than Neville Chamberlain’s infamous quote: “in war there are no winners, only losers,” and to this day I stand behind his argument. It does not matter who wins in war since the loss of human life is great on both sides no matter who the victor is.
Reflecting on the past angers and perplexes me, especially since I know that the civil war was in part a response to the breakup of Yugoslavia amalgamated with selfish political and geographical interests of opposing parties. The war was mostly for the latter: land acquisition and expansion. Now, you tell me is a piece of land worth 100,000 lives and uprooting millions of individuals from their homes and forcing them to become refugees in their own countries? Confusing isn’t it?
When will we – and our politicians – begin to value and cherish each humans life? It takes one second to take a life and decades to rehabilitate the loss felt by those who have lost a loved one. This has always astounded me and especially the speed at which politicians can make the decision to send troops to war, yet, the loss associated with it can never fully be healed by weapons and social services.
We all want our children to grow up having a normal childhood and to be safe; yet, refugees are not allowed these rights everywhere.I ask: how many more people need to suffer for politicians to understand that we are sick of wars, we are sick of having our family members die, that we do not want to spread hatred and we would rather value all humans of different nationalities? How many more children must be robbed of their childhood before peace becomes the only strategy? As a refugee and immigrant to Canada, I feel robbed of my childhood and familial ties.
Thankfully, Canada was the last stop of our seemingly endless journey. My parents came here to attain a better life for themselves and their children. As I have matured and accepted the values that they have bestowed upon me, I have come to realize that the only way that we can stop so much suffering and pain is if we raise awareness of the detrimental consequences that being a displaced refugee fleeing persecution can have on the emotional, psychological, and physical health of individuals.
Let’s work together to see a global order which promotes peace while investing in education, health, and the safety of its people rather than warfare.
Tamara was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina one year prior to the rupture of the Bosnian War in 1992 which finally culminated in the Dayton Agreement in 1995. Her family eventually escaped from the country.