The Syria Series//From My War to Theirs//Jelena Pjevic

Jelena Pjević is a senior majoring in Justice & Society and English with a specialization in Creative Writing. She is a Formation Group Leader for the 2013-2014 Cortina Community. This is where she stands with regard to the possibility of the United States’ intervention in Syria.

“Think well about this, dear brothers and sisters, and you will see that we should have been in a state of terrible chaos, in a fratricidal war, in a country which would no longer be Yugoslavia, but be only a group of petty little states fighting among themselves and destroying each other. But our people do not want that to happen.” – Josip Broz Tito

Whenever I hear or read about any current war, I can’t help but think of the civil war that destroyed my homeland, the former Yugoslavia, and resulted in the tragic numbers of death or displacement among the general population. I can’t help but compare my war to their war. I can’t help but compare my experience to their experience. I have, however, come to realize that there isn’t really a distinct me or a distinct them, no matter whether the current suffering and marginalized are Iraqis, Afghanis, or Syrians. Essentially, what matters is that people like us don’t matter to people like them: Assad, Obama, or Putin.

Now, I know that some, or maybe even most, of the people reading this blog post may think I’m judging politicians too harshly, that I’m not taking into account the positive acts that they carry out, or how difficult it must be to perform well as a leader on the world stage. If you’re thinking that, you’re correct. I definitely am biased, as we all are, but I’m not ashamed of saying that I know my opinion is worth damn more than the totality of these politicians’ games and lies. My own experience and my parents’ experiences with war and the consequences of it, however, have shown me that what we believed in and what we thought never really mattered in the eyes of the elites. In my grandma’s words, “They declared war and sent my son [my own uncle] to the frontlines to be slaughtered, while they hid behind their high walls, toasting each other in private, and fueling hatred among us in public with their words.” All in all, the politicians never fear, lose, nor die. The people do. We all do.

What both infuriates and depresses me the most is the fact that whenever war is discussed, it’s all about sides. Who’s right or wrong? Evil or good? Americans or terrorists? Capitalists or communists? The Syrian government or the rebels? If you haven’t already guessed my answer: the world isn’t so black and white. So, I can’t tell you if the United States should intervene in Syria. But, I can tell you this:

Because of War:

Because of the Yugoslav Wars, I was forced to leave my homeland as a refugee, along with my parents, and come to live in a new country without my entire extended family. My uncle was killed. My grandparents now live alone. My mama couldn’t have another child for years after the war, because she fell into such a deep depression and lost so much weight. I almost lost the ability to communicate in my native tongue. I disrespected my parents’ cultural values. I was constantly made to feel inferior and like an outsider by my American peers during my entire childhood. I lack an understanding of self-identity and I can never truly call one single place home. Please understand that I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone else, not even the politicians who are responsible for my nafaka (fate, destiny, or draw of luck).

At the end of the day, I know that neither Assad, nor Obama, nor Putin, can understand my pain or the pain of the people that are continuously cast aside as mere pawns in their political schemes. There is no need for us to debate so much about what should be done, because we aren’t being asked for our opinions. There is no need, because we are the people, not the politicians. What we can do, however, is pray for the Syrian people and actively show love and respect the dignity of every life, especially those of the many immigrants and refugees that live with us in the United States of America. Listen to their stories, question your own beliefs, and don’t let Big Brother convince you that everything will be fine.

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