I sent this originally to a friend in an e-mail, closing with the thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the blog….woke up this morning here in Banja Luka realizing that perhaps this is exactly what I should be posting:
I’m in such an effected state of mind that the preview for the Green Lantern made me cry this evening.
I’ve been taking a break from genocide study here.
But it’s just weird. This city was taken over quickly at the start of the war and used as command central in country for the Serbs (responsible for more than 80% of the atrocities in the war, according to the UN), so the residents seem pretty oblivious. Currently, Banja Luka is the capital city for the Republic of Srpska as established in the Dayton agreement.
It is similar to many other vibrant European cities emerging from Communist governance: a mix of ugly, boxy, concrete buildings and elegant pre-WWII architecture.
After the week in Srebrenica, it was nice for most of the day. But later, I needed to review some research, and realizing I’d seen sections of it before, re-watched the documentary from BBC called “A Cry from the Grave” this afternoon. It featured people we met and places we walked only days ago; I’d kind of remembered that, but it caught me by surprise a bit. Then I saw the window for my hotel room in Srebrenica in several shots taken during the genocide, including one in flames. Nothing compared to what survivors went through, of course, but kind of unsettling to see the place you were sleeping as it had been in 1995.
So I go to see Harry Potter, figuring escapism has its purpose…and the Green Lantern preview starts. And all I can think of is how that sort of fiction must affect a kid who truly knows what it means to be absolutely helpless. We met several young men this week who survived, but witnessed unspeakable horror at a young age. They’re in their early-mid 20’s and each coping differently…one made a lovely short film that’s making the rounds at some film festivals (Ado, linked right) But the point is, that kind of comic-book-super-heroism that is such a positive in the development of so many kids must either be so trivial as to be offensive, or re-emphasize their sense of powerlessness. (well, I don’t presume to know what they’d think. Perhaps it’s just funny.)
There are no buddies to debrief with this time (except the driver from the tour company, who survived the siege in Sarajevo…so, that’s not really debriefing, that’s more fodder for my thoughts and more to write about later).