Thursday, December 13, 2007

Shirking Duty

Robert E. Lee called duty the "most sublime word in the English language," and urged everyone to "Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”

But as Julia Gorin reminds us, many fall short when faced with what needs to be done:

"By shining a light on our Kosovo mischief, I am merely doing my duty as an American. But there are Americans who have a greater responsibility than I to save the U.S. from this bipartisan treachery, Americans who should be most on the case at this eleventh hour: Serbian-Americans."

So, where are they? I don't count; I'm not an American citizen, just someone who's lived in this country for almost a dozen years. Besides, I've definitely not kept silent, what with having been a columnist for the past eight. Yet I'm an exception, rather than a rule.

Why is this? Julia has a theory:

"I understand the reasons that Serbs shy away from this duty. They want finally to be liked, and more than anything else to fit in; indeed, the modern Serb rejects his Serbhood. As well, a Serb knows he will instantly be painted with the “Oh, but this is coming from a Serb; of course you’d say that” brush. Notice this is never a consideration or stumbling block for the Serbs’ enemies..."

While true to a great extent, it's not the whole reason. I personally know people who fear that any sort of public expression of opposition to the current U.S. policy in the Balkans would have negative consequences to their careers, wealth, property, and even lives. I know people who believe their voice can't change anything. But they are saying something, with their silence: they are saying that their cause is not worth speaking out for, much less fighting for.

I, quite obviously, disagree.

Now, here's the real kicker: most of these Serbs who don't dare so much as whisper in public have no qualms about bemoaning the current situation in private, lamenting the state of the Serbian nation today and wishing for someone to step in and save it. Which brings me to the point I want to make, using the words of a brilliant American playwright:

"Look, if you think we're wrong... then I respect that. But if you think we're right and you won't speak up because you can't be bothered, then God... I don't even want to know you."


Witch-king of Angmar said...

Talk about great minds thinking alike! I posted a similar entry today about the same article!

Anonymous said...

The United States is so rotten to its core that you would be wasting your time trying to change things in America.

It's pointless to expect the madmen running the US to the ground to actually respond to logical argument.

1389 said...

I think anonymous is mistaken. This world is subject to sin and fallibility, but that does not mean that we can or should condone any particular instance of wrongdoing that we come across.

The madmen running the US don't respond to logic, per se - but they do respond to pressure. And we can educate enough people to participate in applying this pressure. We've got to keep hitting politicians and bureaucrats where it hurts: their public image, their campaign funds, their election returns.

BTW, I linked to this article from here and here.

I hope that everybody will pass Julia Gorin's articles, as well as Gray Falcon's and Witch King's comments, to every Serb and Serbian-American that they know.

Pedja said...

There is a deeper problem than a simple fear of expressing their views that haunts the Serbs.
The Serbs are generally conflict shame people, which will say it is very important for us not to offend even our enemies (up to a certain point). It may sound ridiculous but here are a couple of examples.
Even after all this wars that happened during the past decade I still have some “friends” of other Balkan nations. When I visit them at their homes, it is totally normal for them to have dozens of items showing their national insignia in their homes and they are proud about it. Serbs are different, when they are having a visit from a friend of another Balkan nationality; they tend to hide their national insignia so their visitor is not offended by it.
Another example from the time when NATO was bombing Serbia. We where in Europe on the streets protesting against the bombings, but trying to show how civilized we are by strictly obeying all the rules imposed by the police force. This countries where destroying our land but god forbid for them to think that we where some kind of extremists and uncivilized.