Pa·tri·ot·ism – A noun, meaning: devoted love, support, national loyalty, devotion to one’s own country and concern for its defence. What is patriotism? Nationalism? Why is it so hard to define ones’ self as either or? In today’s world, where it is often frowned upon and seen as a negative to explicitly state that you are either or, where acceptance of ones’ choice has become tolerable and yet freedom of choice is still very hard to come by, I am most definitely a patriot.
There are a few things that I strongly believe in, that I guess I would defend whole heartedly – my family and my Serbia. I think that once you leave this beautiful country, you begin to miss certain things and most definitely appreciate what you have lost. I often catch myself daydreaming and still even after almost three years back in Belgrade I cannot fathom and grasp my own reality….
It must have been some time in the late 90’s, that the first seed of patriotism was planted. Serbia at that time was being shredded to pieces by NATO bombs and yet I was safe and sound in New Zealand. Peculiar. My father organised the protests in Wellington and our whole family and most of our friends participated.
I was very young, and although literally on the other side of the world, I experienced this tragedy and very much took it to heart. I began to miss Serbia even more, I began to actively seek involved within the Serbian community so that I could feel more at home. It was then that I realised, it doesn’t really matter where you are, it matters where you came from. It doesn’t matter, that I spent most of my life outside of this beautiful city, country, when from day one I yearned to return. Hi, my name is Tijana and I suffer from patriotism.
When you have the freedom to walk down Francuska street whenever you like, drink your favourite coffee in Cika Ljubina, watch your favourite play in Atelje 212 you pretty soon realize that are complete. The accumulation of small things in life, are vital to your happiness, that the circle which makes up your existence is absolutely complete, you then realize that you wouldn’t have it any other way…
People in diaspora are not very different to me, to us. For the fear offending certain individuals, I wouldn’t say that Serbian diaspora are more patriotic, however, they are fears competitors to those born and bred, local living Serbs. We in diaspora already feel a deeper sense of loss, we are more aggressive towards defending what is ours, more tolerable to differences for the sake of a happy community and last but not least we believe in Serbia. We left, some on our own accord, some were forced out and some ran away…
However, we never forgot where we came from and the patriotic seed was planted probably long before the departure date. We didn’t leave Serbia, because it was surrounded by rainbows and butterflied, no – we left because our Serbia had changed, she became someone else, something we couldn’t recognise and could no longer follow blindly.
Although, we are so far away from Mother Serbia and probably feel a sense of guilt we most definitely go out of our way to give back to our country. I never explicitly supported any one organisation in their humanitarian work, until I came across 28. Jun (http://28jun.blogspot.com). In my opinion, this is a rear organisation which provides the Serbian people with tangible resources, with help and hope. This is an organisation which is based in Canada and yet has managed to bring together the Serbian diaspora which spans on numerous continents.
A breath of fresh air, hope to our community, a step closer to a better and stronger Serbia, an organisation supported by people who have had a very similar childhood to mine. Have a read, see what they are about, meet our diaspora and hopefully you too will feel an ever stronger bond and proudness of the Serbs who left Serbia but never forgot her and never lost the sense of belonging to such a powerful nation. Long live this amazing country!