Essays from 1st Voice Up Forum

In every single aspect of our lives, we're forced to deal with all kinds of struggles. Sometimes the obstacles can be easily overcome, but sometimes it takes a lot of determination, passion, courage and most importantly – patience, to do so. What if a struggle - of any nature whatsoever – affects not only a person, but a whole nation, too? Even if the solution exists, is it really possible to implement it without mistreating anyone in the process? We can't know unless we try, and therein lies the problem. Some people are just too lazy, unwilling and also very resistant to bring about a change, let alone express their opinion on important subjects.

I've just described the state of many countries located on the Balkan Peninsula. Unfortunately, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country I've lived in all my life, falls into this category. It's a land with undeniable potential and opportunities which are seldom exploited in a way they should be.

That's where the youth steps in. Taking into consideration the fact that the grown-ups are doing a terrible job of leading the country in general, a lot of ignored issues are left for the youth to discuss and try to solve, only their voices are rarely heard. But, they don't know. The people who are mostly interested in subjects that could benefit them, whose lifestyles are all about wealth and fame, do not know that they, by showing disinterest, accentuate the chaos we're living in. Thereby, a question arises: Is there any hope for us at all?

I am of strong opinion that there is. As cliched as the saying „There is always light at the end of the tunnel “may be, I try to live by those words and if I, a seventeen-year-old, can do that, why does it represent a problem for other people from my country, no matter their age, to do so, too? It's our duty to find and decipher the answer, and to persuade others that despite what they think, hope is not long gone.

Contrary to popular belief, people who are trying to prove this country's worth, still exist. I take pride in saying that I'm one of those people and I have lots of arguments to support my viewpoint.

We may live in a corrupted community that's ruled by the unlettered and opulent, where the lowest stratum of society suffers inexplicably. But how about we, for a change, focus on the positive side?

One of the main reasons why I aspire to stay and work in my country are, ironically, education opportunities. Bosnia and Herzegovina offers a variety of universities – each to their own – and in most cases, the youth underestimates the true value of them. Even though I am still enrolled in high school, I've had a fair share of stories from people who are trying to coax me into leaving and never coming back. By choosing a university in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I'm not only improving the dynamic of the country itself, I'm also setting an example to others. That's the way it should be.

It's understandable why youngsters leave their homeland, in search of chances that are very much different from the ones they had (or didn't have) in their community. I am not implying that one ought to stay put forever, wherever they are – that's absurd. I am also not implying that people must not ever leave their country. The thing is – people who migrate are almost always the ones who didn't go on with their education after high school. Unfortunately, over the years, that kind of mind-set has been present in every social group, no matter their education level. But, who is to blame for that?

It's not surprising that due to the ridiculous politics in Bosnia and Herzegovina, no one really takes us seriously. Politicians and those whose job is to make sure this country doesn't wander off the right path, are doing exactly the opposite. However, the world does not revolve around them.

There are many teachers and professors who returned from well-known countries as to teach young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, although they had various better opportunities abroad. Examples are likely to be found at every university: at least one professor obtained a Master's or PhD degree in another country. Those people should serve as an example to youngsters who aren't ever ready to make sacrifices, who have given up on the overall system and who only look for excuses.

Policymakers should acknowledge that the way they advertise our education system to youngsters has to be changed. In order to do that, genuine interest has to be shown towards young people in need of advice and guidance. Although policymakers aren't fully devoted to this subject, we luckily have many youth organizations whose aim is to raise awareness not only regarding education, but topics such as moving abroad, women's rights, freedom of speech, mental and physical abuse and many others.

Nowadays, youth organizations play a very important part in society. I've seen what kind of an impact they have on youth because they're always on the move: conferences, camps, fun competitions, workshops and debates where anyone can participate. They ambitiously encourage peers to have an out-of-the-box outlook on everything and to improve their own, as well as other's future by doing that. Because, in the end, it's all in our hands.

Frankly speaking, there are many reasons to stay: education, enthusiastic youth that doesn't take 'NO' for an answer, cultural heritage, natural resources and other unrecognized potentials this country has. Stay, because you're proving others wrong then. Stay, because you're setting an example to future generations. Stay, because Bosnia and Herzegovina could use bright minds. Stay, because this is your country and you want the best for it. Stay, because you can't pretend that you don't care. Stay, because we are persistent, stubborn and decisive. Stay, because this country needs you.

Author: EMA SELIMOVIĆ, student at Gimnazija Bihać, Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Young minds of Bosnia and Herzegovina are being dangerously indoctrinated by huge waves of anarchistic, populist, senseless, and for this country, inapplicable ideals and ideologies. Spoiled, cynical behavior is infiltrating many spheres of life, making them literally incapable to retain or create some kind of progress or reputation. All of this has created a progress- unfriendly atmosphere, filled with washed-up ideas propagated by the youngsters who are not only themselves living in an illusion, but are swiftly spreading it to older and even younger generations of Bosnia. From an outside perspective, all the recent youth activism that has been going on in this country might seem like something positive, but when you look at the core, or maybe even better, the political ideologies that are hidden behind it, you will soon realize that all of that is actually cheap, inapplicable and quite frankly, useless.

But, young Bosnians are not the only ones to be blamed here, as all of this is initiated outside of our country, accepted by faithless creatures that simply roam in the „activism “world just for personal benefits, and made as something „modern“, or „progressive“. Everything that differs with their beliefs, is instantly marked as regressive. That kind of behavior is extremely hypocritical, especially if we point out that all those „progressive“ waves are advocating for freedom of speech and expressing ideas, but only the ones that fit in their bubble of beliefs.

Nepotism and corruption are, no doubt, some of the leading problems that this country is facing, just like their neighboring ones. Although I absolutely agree with many that this is a major issue, I haven't decided to write about it, since it was, is and always will be a subject for mass media, and for that fact that it's nothing unusual, or something that hasn't been brought up before.

Unlike those two, massively discussed problems, I think that there is a much more influential one, spread not only among the ones who are ruling this country, but all Bosnians. Low degree of development of legal culture is causing a complete havoc, ruining Bosnia and Herzegovina and all of its population. Social control and obedience are non-existing here. People literally laugh at law, knowing it has quite low levels of power in certain areas. Postmodern influence has killed morality, and is slowly creeping into law as well. As I said before, not only highly-ranked politicians disobey and make fun of it, but all people do. It has certainly become a kind of trend or culture to disobey and make fun of law and order. All of this has created fertile soil for corruption and criminal activities, of all degrees.

In a land where picking up trash and throwing it in a can, following and respecting traffic lights, driving under the speed limit is considered idiotic and abnormal, I think it is necessary to establish a strict and firm law system with high penalties. Although this is probably going to be marked as something regressive and primitive, I certainly think it's necessary, since, when you look at this newly formed mentality among Bosnians, values, ethics and honor have no influence at all. All of those (values), if applied and accepted by our population, would certainly fix many problems that we're facing, but since I am pretty sure that is not going to happen, I consider that stricter law, higher penalties and spreading ideals of being a cultural, honorable and law-abiding citizen would be the best solution. Now, not to be misunderstood, I am not talking about a dictatorship or something similar to that, but a firm and decisive form of control. As the world is progressing day by day, all the newly founded activities should be regulated by law. The law must compensate for the disappearance of moral, respect and culture (in a behavioral way).

One of the problems that this idea would face is literally the evil it's meant to kill – corruption. Politicians are the ones who accept initiatives for non-government bills, make government bills, accept and put them into effect. Some forms of the judiciary and administration are also highly corrupt, as they are working in favor of the leading political elites, not all, but some. If they are corrupt, and don't want to make changes, then this idea can't come to life, unless a higher force makes them do it, but that would have its bad consequences as well.

What I am suggesting is to develop and initiate a campaign of making initiatives for non- governmental and governmental bills, spreading legal culture amongst everyone, by implementing it in schools, founding various NGO's, and in the end look at the effects of all this, hope that the initiating and deciding side would come to an agreement and prevail against those who are enjoying this kind of state. People need to realize that everyone has a duty to take care of their country in order to make it progressive and successful. If this wouldn't succeed because of corruption, we would at least change the mindset of young and future generations of Bosnians, make them willing to take responsibility, stay and help their country get into a better state than it is in now.

Author: MIRSAD UGARAK, student at Faculty of Law, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the stance of BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA ASSOCIATION FOR UNITED NATIONS.