A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Zagreb, the 'Bad Guys', and What Comes Next

In Zagreb my host, Jasna, talks about a visit she made to the United States not long after the Balkan Wars had come to an end. She was asked whether she had been on the side of the 'good guys' or the 'bad guys'. Though she is Croatian, she hadn't known how to answer.
'There were good and bad on both sides,' she explains.
And while she spent a lot of time in her basement with her children when the Serbians were bombing Zagreb, she is ready to forgive.
I had been surprised when I entered Slovenia three weeks earlier to hear nearly the same thing from everyone. I had expected a universal antipathy towards Serbia, but opinions varied, and there seems to be more antipathy towards the bombing carried out by American aircraft than against Serbia. And nearly everyone I have spoken to agrees that I will find more hospitality in Serbia than in any of the other former Yugoslavian republics, in spite of my being an American.

My friend Inge and I crossed into Croatia on September 24th along the toll highway as the smaller border crossing is only for Slovenians and Croatians. We camped our first night in Croatia, then reached Zagreb the next day.

From Zagreb we intend to walk to Vukovar, on the border of Croatia and Serbia. Vukovar was the site of one of the Balkan War's worst atrocities. We hope to meet Quakers there who are involved in the Coalition for Work with Psychotrauma and Peace www.cwwpp.org. We'll then be heading towards Belgrade, which was bombed by NATO forces. Along the way we hope to meet with people who are willing to talk about the war and its effects.

Meanwhile, after a three week hike through the beautiful countryside in Slovenia, we're getting a little R&R here in Zagreb, catching up on things like laundry and our blogs. Most importantly for the moment, we're stationary for a few days. But Egypt is a long ways off and China is still the other side of the world, so it won't be long before we're itching to go again.

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