Learn­ing from the Hurt

Activated - - NEWS - By Anna Per­lini Anna Per­lini is a co­founder of Per un Mondo Migliore, a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­tive in the Balkans since 1995.

It’s my 20th year liv­ing and work­ing in the for­mer Yu­goslavia. I also lived here ear­lier, right after Pres­i­dent Tito died in 1980. His pic­tures were still hang­ing ev­ery­where, and though the coun­try was go­ing through a chal­leng­ing eco­nomic cri­sis, it seemed like no­body ques­tioned Yu­goslav unity. Hav­ing lived here both “be­fore” and “after,” it’s still a puz­zle how a suc­ces­sion of par­tic­u­larly bru­tal and bloody civil wars even­tu­ally led to the for­ma­tion of seven dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

But I’ve found out that many of the peo­ple who lived through it also have a hard time mak­ing sense of it. It’s as if they lived through a bad dream, a night­mare of ha­tred and pain.

I’ve of­ten heard com­ments along the lines of “We can’t fig­ure out what hap­pened and how we could find our­selves the worst en­e­mies with peo­ple who were our neigh­bors or even rel­a­tives.”

Thank­fully, although not ev­ery­one has for­given and for­got­ten, I be­lieve they would think twice or more be­fore get­ting into an­other war. They paid the price, and in many ways, are still pay­ing it.

Over the years, Per un Mondo Migliore has helped to build bridges of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, and through this process, I was also helped. I have been priv­i­leged to have a peek into the com­plex mat­ter of war ver­sus peace.

I saw the in­san­ity of war and the hurt and scars it leaves for decades. I touched the pain of di­vi­sion. I was con­vinced once more of the ne­ces­sity and beauty of unity: what a price­less thing it is, how much power it gives, and what a sad state we fall into when we don’t ap­pre­ci­ate it and even­tu­ally lose it.

I learned how small things, if not ad­dressed, can be­come big is­sues.

I re­al­ized the dan­ger of get­ting too fa­mil­iar with our bless­ings, the good things we have, tak­ing them for granted, and even­tu­ally be­ing too will­ing to trade them for some fake prom­ise.

I wit­nessed the heal­ing for­give­ness can bring and the im­por­tance of faith and trust ver­sus de­spair.

I was amazed at the courage, brav­ery, and un­selfish­ness some peo­ple can show in ex­treme cir­cum­stances.

I was re­minded of the quote at­trib­uted to Mother Teresa: “What can you do to pro­mote world peace? Go home and love your fam­ily.” If there is no peace, it is be­cause we have for­got­ten that we be­long to one an­other.

1. http://www.pe­run­mon­domigliore.org

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