Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Expanding on the mentalities behind controversial issues

Last week I wrote a fairly detailed response to an email I had received that contained multiple clarifying questions about the Pride parade and the mentality behind it and other controversies. Thinking back on this email I realized that the answers would be good to share with everyone not just that one curious individual so here is a paraphrased version of what I said:

Homophobia has become a topic openly discussed when dealing with the ramifications of the Pride parade. My host father is completely democratic in most respects but on my third or fourth day living with them, homosexuality came up in a conversation while we had dinner with his entire family and all of them were either homophobic or apathetic to the situation and they shared their opinions with me. When I was hanging out with Jill's host sister, she showed us videos of the bloody Pride parade 10 years ago and when we showed her videos of gay pride parades in San Fran and New York, she exclaimed, "it's like a party but what are they celebrating?" Though she is our age she and her friends all have some degree of a homophobic mentality. The hooligans that caused the mess in Belgrade and now Italy are categorized as youth so they also are apathetic or homophobic even though in general it is the youth who best bring uncomfortable topics to light. In interviews that were translated for me on Sunday, most of young people expressed disgust with the parade and what it stood for. My host mom's remarks on the subject were perhaps most interesting because she described how she would love her daughter (10-year old Mima) no matter "how she is" but she would never express that opinion at work because she could be fired! She followed this with a hesitant laugh and she doesn't speak English very well so it could be an exaggeration, but her husband was nodding his head and said that it's never good to talk about controversial topics with people you don't know well because there could be consequences. In this sense controversial issues are not much discussed but in a confidential or informal manner, but when these subjects emmerge in conversation it is practically guaranteed that a heated debate will soon follow.

The most unfortunate aspect of this and other controversial issues is that there doesn't seem to be enough people wanting to think forward as my co-workers or Ceca and her friends do. The older generations seem to reminisce of Tito or just feel that Serbia is in such a mess that they prefer not to think about it; the middle-aged men and women have the most amount of people trying for change maybe because they really lived through and caused Milosevic's demise but still a lot of them seem to have run out of motivation; and the youth who have the ability to change this and other mentalities just don't seem to care. And that's what I'm most puzzled with. They are the ones suffering in the long run from not demanding change in education, in governmental leadership, in controversial topics (homosexuality, roma, kosovo, etc), in the economic standard, in the chance to be apart of the EU, and yet although everyone our age and slightly older has been very kind to us, they lack the energy that existed ten years ago with OTPOR (the central group in charge of taking down Milosevic) and other activist groups. I really don't get it, but somehow all the young people I've met (outside of ck13) have no ambition to do much with the government, Serbia's problems, or even their own lives. My hypothesis for why they are not more active in society is that it is not necessary. Or not yet at least. That is to say that things now are fine, they're livable, they'll get by, get a job, have a family, and they are not in fear of having bombs dropped on them or being led by an unruly dictator. Things aren't good but the need for change doesn't appear as urgent to them as it did to the youth ten years ago. But since they have less tension now they should seize the opportunity to have the police behind them and try to move forward with change. So in the long run I honestly don't see the negative views of homosexuality or the roma changing sadly because I don't see enough support for great change. Through ck I am exposed to people who strongly advocate for change so I'll be sure to talk to those individuals and observe how and why their messages aren't catching, and if ck and other like NGOs continue to reach out and inform the youth of Serbia then more people will take initiative. Here's to hoping!

Please email me if there are other questions you have regarding my blog or Serbia as responding to questions helps with my personal clarity and grasp on situations here.

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