All wars are the same, they start the same way. One group arms themselves and then they attack one early morning or late night. I remember my parents and grandparents telling me stories of civil war in Afghanistan over and over again. “It was early morning, we were woken by the sounds of rocket and gunshots”, “ the neighbor’s son was shot in front of our eyes”, “ we couldn’t go anywhere, they were coming from every direction.” and on and on.

Today, we watched the movie “ Pretty Village” in Elizabeth Cole’s session. The movie was very emotional and sad. It was about the 1992 war in Bosnia. Like every other war, the story of Bosnian war is the same. The Serbs armed themselves and attacked the Bosnian Muslims. Some of the quotes from the movie that struck me are:

“ things have never been the same ever since then.”

“ it isn’t the same.”

“I have realized what real loss is like.”

“Those experiences, the trauma will follow you for the rest of your life.”

“It’s never easy to go back even after 20 years.”

“ it’s good to feel like a human being again.”

Today in Bosnia, just because the violence has stopped, it does not mean the country is in a stable place. Everyone has a deep emotional scar from the war. Reconciliation is not an easy process. In a post war society, it is not easy to put together even the components of reconciliation. People have gone back and are starting their lives, but the trauma will follow them for the rest of their lives. In our discussion, we talked about dimensions of reconciliation as follows:

  • Justice
  • Truth
  • Peace
  • Acknowledgement
  • Apology, forgiveness
  • Ceremonies
  • Commemoration
  • Exhumations

An important issue that came up in our discussion of dimensions of reconciliation was that these elements are in tension with each other. For example, forgiveness and justice. Or remembrance and forgetting. It is extremely difficult to conclude what is the priority or what is more important. Each individual experiences things differently and so reconcile differently, or might never reconcile.