26 October 2010

Fox news

When I came to US few of my working colleagues, who are passionate supporters of the conservative party here recommended me to watch this news house for the true news of US. And I did tried, for one hour. Tricked by the word news in the name of the channel I was expecting news, instead, I got  bunch of the commentaries, during the time when other news houses report the news. The commentaries I heard during that hour were very inflammatory and reminded me much on the rhetoric I heard in my country when different sides were trying to satanise the “other ones”.
I just finished watching the film called “Outfoxed”. Basically, it confirmed what I already seen with this Fox news house.  This house is brainwashing propaganda source for the conservative party and they use fear as the main tool. 
The way they present the current events in their shows reminds me so much on the brainwashing I was exposed in my ex-country; during the Communist regime, prior, during and after war. 
Typicality of this kind of “presenting” the current events is marked by “Us against Them” attitude. “Our side” is portrayed as good and angelic, while anyone who do not support “our side” 100% is seen as the evil. In my country it was easy to make distinguishing between “good” and “bad” guys, the good one were belonging to a certain religion, the bad ones were everyone else. 
Fox news has a problem, they cannot make such easy division. But they found the solution.  I find quite ingenious how Fox News use of the “Them” term. They are truly masters in manipulation. Fox news will use very general, undefined, terms to describe the bad side. Those terms are so nicely picked that viewers can apply them to what ever “them” they like, even if the “them” is that annoying neighbour down the street. In essence the terms they use are so general that anyone who listens the Fox News can put what ever definition of the terms they thing it is appropriate, and it is irrelevant if those definitions are different from the intended definition of the news house itself, or if some other conservative supporter has completely different idea what those definitions should mean than you do. Everything goes. Truly good idea. I think Fox news did break the envelope in how to manipulate the population in the democratic society. 
I have to say that one of the positive sides of going trough the war, for me, is attaining the “resistance” to such politic manipulations. 
And if you wonder which news I follow to learn about events in USA, well, the ones from international news corporations who still have an option to just give you the news, without any brainwashing commentaries. After all, I prefer to use my own brain to form the conclusions. Although I have to say that, according to my boyfriend, there is a news house in USA that does the same. I usually listen that one when I’m at his place. ( http://www.kqed.org/ ) 
Anyway, when I was discussing this with my boyfriend (he’s an American), he said with the touch of the resignation that people in my country knew that news there are not to be trusted. Actually, that was not true. The fact is, that all those propaganda-news always play that good-evil card, making the audience fell good and victims of those  evil “them”. That happens under the strongest dictator regime too. The catch is that dictators push too far.  And only then, when the ruling establishment pushes too far,  smarter part of the population realises that there is something wrong with the news. (There is another good manipulation on the side of the Fox news to combat this. They declared all smart and educated people in their country as evil. And people here are buying it. High education is seen as bad thing.)
 For the majority of the population to sees this manipulations, takes much, much longer time. Basically, the country needs to be near the bottom or at the bottom for the majority of the population to say wait, they are lying, things are not as those news say. Then, usually some kind of uprising starts. The catch is that if the manipulation ruling establishment is well versed in the manipulations they will know how to use those events so that ruling establishment can leave the troublesome country with the smallest possible loss. I saw that happen, it always does happen in situations like this. Judging by the expertise Fox news shows in their manipulation, my guess is that they will successfully accomplish that task too, when the time comes. 
Unfortunately, there are part of the population that never sees it. Usually because their personalities. Those are people who are always right and always good, regardless what they do in reality. For such people that division good-evil is essential for their psychological survival, and such people have to be good in their own eyes. Those are people who end up being fundamentalists or extremists. 
But the most bitter part of all, is that when those manipulations reach the level Fox news now applies, there is no turning back. When the populations are so divided as they are now in US there is no turning back. Especially here when education and IQ are seen as something evil.  I am still surprised how come that the ruling establishment do not see this, how come that they do not see that they are literally destroying their own country. My boyfriend argued that they do not care because they will be able to leave the country on time. Hmm, I doubt that, because I saw, trough the history of the human societies that, true, the rich rulers do manage to escape the main trouble, but they pay a lot in process, sometimes much more than average "peasant" from their country of the origin. It is not very likely that US ruling establishment will manage to do something different. 

13 August 2010

Religion and Believes

Recently I went on a small weekend outing with a new found friend here in US. And she question me about the religion, this post is result of that. I did not even thought about that beforehand.
First I have to say that I experienced a nasty surprise when I saw that in US religious believe is in essence matter of being right, and that people of different congregation fanatically pushing their issue. That’s something rare in Europe, and usually is frown upon because it leads to aggression. And I’m even more sensitive on the whole issue because I saw how people who were passionate followers of “true religion” end up slaughtering other humans who happen to think differently.
So here in US I’m shying away from people who call themselves religious, because in my mind they are extremists. The kind of people with whom is dangerous to disagree.
On the other hand, I had a habit that I brought from my country to say that I am Orthodox and keep a symbols of the religions visible in my dwelling and on myself. The fact that it passed years and years when I went to a church last time did not change that. In my mind that was something to do to show to which nation one belongs. Because in my country there is a strange equalisation between religion and nation. It was introduced by Muslims during the rule of the Ottoman and it’s still there and today is emphasised by declaring all Muslims in the Bosnia as Boshnjaci, although that name should belong to any person who has Bosnian citizenship regardless to the religion. But it is not. Citizenship and nationality are not same in my country, but religion and nationality are. So all Croats are considered to be Catholic, all Serbs Orthodox and as a new stuff, all Boshnjaci are in reality Muslims.
In my country is not unusual that someone will say that they are Catholic/Muslim/Orthodox but they do not believe in that. It is considered normal.
So the question was: is that because of the war? And I have to say that it certainly has the influence. During the war if you did not “belong” to anyone you were under risk to be prosecuted by all sides. At least if you say you belong somewhere, then that side will not bother you. So we were saying that we belong to the appropriate religion, the one your ancestors had, because your name, family name and sometimes dialect showed that belonging. (Remember, that was formed during the Ottoman rule where people were classified by religion and separated by religion. Ottomans did not allow mixing…)
So the little cross I was wearing around my neck turned into some sort of talisman, something to prevent bad things of happening. When I left Bosnia after the war, I met an Arab from Dubai who sat next to me during a German language class, and started with enthusiasm saying how his father was funding a Muslim army in Bosnia. I was terrified. I did not know what to do. During the war there were Mujahedins fighting on the side of the Muslims in Bosnia, and they had very, very, very nasty reputation. So bad, that people were preferred to kill themselves then to allow Mujahedins to capture them. Civilians I mean. And for the female, capture by Mujahedins would be equal to a hell. A real hell.
So I continued carrying my cross, this time openly and visibly so no more Arabs confused me to a Muslim from Bosnia.
I kept that habit. For me that was a sort of the protection.
Then I moved in US to learn that here if you say that you’re belonging to a certain religion and have symbols of that religion visible usually means that you’re one of the extremist who is “always right”. So in this country, my little cross is not a talisman anymore but declaration that I’m a kind of person that were doing the worse atrocities in my country during the war.
So I understand why my friend was pushing the issue. She could see that I am not an extremist in any way.
But all that started an internal questioning within myself. Why really I do put those symbols up, when last I went to a proper mass 6-7 years ago? And in true, I do not like hypocrisy of the official religious institutions who do not follow the essence of the believe within their dogma, but just insist that they are “right”, so it’s not likely that I’ll go and listen again a proper mass.
Hmm, that’s something I need to work within myself. But it was a quite revelation that I do put up those religious symbol as they are some kind of talismans...

30 March 2010

How to deal with the consequences?

Few weeks ago I got a verbal compliment about the strength of my character that showed in ways I choose how to deal with the situation during the war. I was pondering why did I choose such way, although many people around me did not.
I still do not know.
Last weekend something happened that made me ponder again about all of that. I met a man who was in those towers during that attack on 11th September in US; almost a decade ago. He is in financial business so I’m actually the one who started the conversation asking him how come that he’s on a west coast of US when internationally recognized financial centre of the US is on the east coast. And he then explained. With a rather nasty reaction. Some other girl in the our company, American, asked him additional questions, and he rudely stated that he does not wish to talk about it and even left our table for good 15 minutes. That really made me pondering.
I saw such reactions, usually from the soldiers on the leave that came home after first serious battle they had. What was interesting those same soldiers had completely different reactions later, when they went trough several battles. They were talking about everything they saw and experienced, as I would discuss seeding flowers for the garden. I still remember a man we called Julko talking about the incident when he was having a bite with his mates in a trench, and some stray bullet (high calibre one) hit one of his mates in the head, made the head explode and splatter bits of the brain all over them. Julko said that he and the rest of the soldiers who were sitting there just continued with the lunch.  And someone who never been in the war situation would get sick only at hearing him talk about it.
I noticed something similar with me. I have rather relax attitude towards death comparing it to average person who never been in the war. Recently, two of my uncles died in less than year apart from each other. One from stroke, other from cancer that was developed bunch of the metastases before he was even diagnosed with it. I told about it people who surrounding me. After all one of my uncles was dear to me. And I had feeling that they, especially my boss, overreact a bit in attempt to give me a support. So whole situation left me in rather uncomfortable situation because I was not sad. For me, death is something normal, a part of life. And I considered that the uncle who died from stroke got rather lucky in that respect because he went fast, without much suffering. Other uncle was suffering for almost a year after diagnosis, and even there, all what happened from my side was row with some members of the family who did not wish to respect his wishes not to go to a chemo therapy (which was pointless anyway because cancer spread so much that doctors could not tell from which organ it started!). But that’s another story.
Anyway, it is interesting how it seems that one brutal event can make more damage to someone that series of those. Of course loads of the things depend on the fact what kind of personality someone had before the event. Maybe the reactions of the person at the brutal event or events are perfect indicator of the soul?
If I go with this, then this man I met is easy to understand. He was scared to the death during event, so much that he run away further he could and probably ended up also ashamed of his fear and reaction on it. Because almost decade later he still have reactions appropriate for the time just after events. To me that indicate that he never tried to work on that and solve it. Rather strange, considering that in US, which is basically in some kind of the war since WWII, one can find true experts in dealing with post-traumatic stress.
And perhaps therefore there is this difference between us. I know I went trough worse than he is. Approximately, there is a same time period elapsed, but when I compare myself to him, I can see that it was truly right decision to try to work on myself and try to sort out the consequences of the brutal events I went trough.
Wow, I just realized that I almost completed a healing process. That is such encouragement to continue with it.
But what about that man? I might meet him again. We belong to the same club. The trouble is I know that he needs to work on himself, but I do not know how to tell him that. I cannot give him advices because he does not allow himself to heal. Actually, I do not know how to give him advices. And I know, from experience with other people, that I cannot force anything on him. Not even descriptions of my own experiences. The one thing I learned so far is that one cannot help others. First and foremost, person needs to be ready to accept help. Otherwise, everything is pointless and colossal waste of time and effort. 

10 September 2009

Misplaced trust?

I recently bumped into insensitivity about the war consequences caused by the pure ignorance. It was in company of two women, one of which has even two brothers in USA army, but apparently they do not even comprehend what kind of the emotional effect war has on people.
Recently those girls invited me on a camping trip here; older of them actually organizing it. Younger of them I actually considered friend, up to that event.
Silly me.
In the moment of the openness I admitted to them that I feel uncomfortable with the idea of camping because it reminds me on the conditions refugees usually suffer. Instead of at least ignoring my comment, they started to ridicule me. Older one took her own experience as an example of how I should get rid all of that war consequences; she compared her experience of slight fear of the height that she apparently ‘cured’ by learning rock climbing with my situation. For me, that sounded like an advice to take an aspirin if you have pneumonia. I still remember last time when I was talking to professional counsellor and that person told me that I need help of the specialist, someone who specialized in post-traumatic disorders.
It was clear for me that both of the girls reacted in such insensitive way simply because of ignorance. That’s why I did not made any scene nor showed in any way that something was wrong to the rest of the company.
But that night I had nightmares.
My guess that the major reason for those nightmares was not so much reminding of the war horrors I went trough but the fact that I truly consider one of those women as a friend and I never thought that I will get ridiculed by her for the condition I’m trying to heal within myself.
Now I do not wish even to see any of those women anymore. I was thinking last few days should I tell them; show them, in any way what they did to me. But, I decided not to. I decided simply to avoid them.
I do not wish any more nightmares, I do not wish to be troubled with all that, and I definitely do not need someone who I trusted enough to open up to hurt me again in such way.

29 June 2009

My fears

Recently someone asked me what is my greatest fear. Again, one of the tough questions. Not because I do not know, but because I was changed by the war experience.
I answered that my greatest fear is getting caught in the middle of another war.
The true is that I would do anything I can to avoid that.

But to go back to the change caused by war.
When war was over in my country I was not aware of the emotional warping I had. After all, all the residents in my country were warped in the same way, so I was not different from the majority in any way. Then I got the scholarship for the graduate studies abroad. And there, I realised how my emotional reactions are strange. And in the way they still are strange.
Oh, I know how I’m suppose to react on the certain stimulus’s, mostly because I saw how people do react, but that emotional warping does break trough from time to time when I’m too tired or stressed.
I also know that I have that posttraumatic disorder. That “episode” in Birmingham confirmed it. Right now my symptoms are subdued, so I do not feel urge to do anything about it.
Just this question about my fears made me think about all of it. I should do something about it.

26 March 2009


One of the comments Fresca gave me about this blog gave me idea to tell you all about the animals in the war zones. They are usually ignored because we humans put ourselves first.
So Bosnia is around 2/3 covered with mountains, the rest is more-less flat (I do not count the hills, they are almost everywhere in that “flat” part). And since the whole of the flat area is populated or used for agriculture, most of the wild life can be found in the mountains.
I mentioned that my mum and I were going to my grandfather farm to work in some kind of garden. His farm was close to the mountain called Kozara, one of the smallest ones in Bosnia, you could reach the top in one day. But since it has very significant history in the Second World War almost the entire top if it was declared as national park (during the communist times). So at my grandpa farm we were used to see some of the wild life typical for the lower mountains. (Birds, some foxes, etc. etc.) But during the war we started to see the animals that appeared only in the high mountains. You see most of the battle lines were in the high mountains so the animals were simply running away, trying to survive. But we could see only the predators and the birds. Bears, wolfs, eagles, kinds of falcons that live far up the mountains, owls, etc. etc... And that was not surprising; soldiers from all sides would let them go. But the animals like deer, elk and similar they would hunt down for the food. Neither of the sides did not feed their soldiers properly, so most of the soldiers went hunting.
I remember one sad/funny story about the horse told by one of the boys who grow up with me. He was stationed in the region around place called Zenica, and apparently some terrible skinny white horse wandered around the local battle lines. The horse was just pile of the bones held together with the skin and very old one at the top of that. And that helped it to survive. The story went that one night someone, some soldier sneaked up to the horse and painted large letters UN on it’s sides. There was a “rule” by which either side was not allowed to shoot any white vehicle with the letters UN on it. So skinny white horse was left alive.
That horse was domesticated, it belonged to some villager who had to flee the area. Usually when people would flee the area they did not take the animals with them. Sometimes they tried, or sometimes animals would follow them (like dogs), but mostly the animals were left behind. So some of those animals would end up as the soldiers’ food, some would die from hunger, and some would go wild.
Also, during the war, no matter how hungry we were we would never, ever accept the pork or the predator fish from someone we do not trust. And that was because the pigs that went to the wild ended up eating the human corpses from killed soldiers and civilians. Fishes, well, if there were the river running trough the battle zone, human corpses would end up in the water. When there was that last battle in the Croatia, the one called “Oluja” (storm) the floating human corpses in Sava were not rare sight. Sadly majority of them were civilians. So we refused to eat predator kinds of fish and pork. Those were acceptable only if you knew for sure where the animal is coming from.
And, what about the animals that followed the refugees? They were abandoned very, very soon. No matter how much you like your dog or any other animal; you cannot keep it when there is not enough food for you. I was in the big city, Banjaluka, and since most of the “leaders” were there, the refugees considered that city the safest and usually came there. That means that the town was flooded with the stray dogs and cats. They were half crazed by hunger, fighting each other and attacking the children too. So from time to time, the major of the city would send some hunters to kill them during the night, when most of the citizens were not allowed to move around. I remember being puzzled by the obvious lack of the dog’s corpses next morning. Until I found out that those dead dogs were ending up as the human food. I heard it once, (it was intended as the nasty joke) that some of those dead dogs were taken to those restaurants that had frequent foreigner guests.
To end the story, I’ll mention my first pet budgie I got just after the war. He was two year old, and I remember once seeing him scared to death when my father was watching some action movie on the TV and they started to shoot in it from the automatic weapons. I do not know what the poor bird went though before he got into my hands, but that fear was more than illustrative. After that I was usually taking him away from the room with the TV when the action films were on.

06 March 2009


I had recently dealing with a person who originates from my country. That person, did not been in the country during the war; and “officially” belongs to the one of the “other” sides. Oh, our initial meeting went nice, that person was extra kind. But slowly it turned out that that person wish of me to feel guilty for the war and apologize for it. Just because of my genes. The person refused to hear anything about my suffering in the war.
That was irrelevant, apparently.
And when I refused to tell bloody stories and started instead to talk about the hunger and civilian suffering, that was end of our contacts. That was not what that person wished to hear.
And then other people ask me why I avoid the people from my country abroad?
So that’s why.
If someone originates from my country and had not been there during the war that person has no clue about the true war and real suffering there. It has some deformed ideas about the whole stuff, the ideas that are basically black and white. Like you have one good side (theirs) and others are all bad and evil. So if they are from the side that declares “mine” evil one, they end up treating me as a trash when I refuse to apologize for the war and to spit on my own side. If they are from “my” side, they end up judging me as traitor because I do not have as extreme views as they do and dare to consider “our leaders” as stupid, greedy gits.
Now, even, I find myself telling people I’m actually from UK, instead from my own country. Simply because I have slight British accent and no one will mention the war to me. Also, this cut in the beginning all attempts for the socialization with the people from my country. They consider British to be weird.
Thanks goodness!