Friday, 22 April 2016

'Iz Dijaspore s Ljubavlju': Otvoreno Pismo Mom Narodu i Mojoj Zemlji

Pre neki dan, ponovo mi je postavljeno pitanje, "šta znači Srbija nama koji živimo u Dijaspori"?  Sada, ovo je ozbiljno pitanje.  Ali ozbiljnost zna da bude malo teško i dosadno a naša priča zaslužuje mnogo bolje od toga.  Eto iz tog razloga i pošto svi koji me znaju, znaju da mogu biti zabavan, smešan, nasmejan, pozitivan, ali teško da budem ozbiljan, odgovoriću na ovo pitanje na najbolji način koji umem - od srca.



https://instagram.com/stefpop/


Ja nikad nisam zavoleo osobu zato što je bogata i, takođe, ne bih je mrzeo ni da je siromašna.  To važi i za Srbiju.  Za nas u dijaspori, Srbija je sve.  Tu su nam koreni, tu nam je rodbina, istorija i veliki deo naše priče.  Brinemo o Srbiji kao što brat brine o bratu ili roditelj o detetu.  Nama je ta briga možda još veća jer živimo daleko od Srbije i ne možemo uvek da budemo tu sa njom.  Kao kad brat, sestra ili dete ide na daleki put, jednostavno brineš o njima.


https://instagram.com/stefpop/


Nismo svi izabrali tu sudbinu; neki smo rođeni u dijaspori, neki su otišli kao izbeglice i neki su otišli jer su shvatili da, iako vole ovu zemlju, oni ne mogu da žive u ovoj državi.  I kao što znamo, država i zemlja su dve baš različite stvari.  Kada sve to sabereš, Srbija je deo nas.  Deo našeg identiteta, našeg srca, naše familije.  Želimo da joj pomognemo kad joj je teško, a ne da je zapostavimo, bez pomoći da propada.  Želimo da je štitimo kad je neko napada, da je branimo kad je neko vređa i da je hvalimo kad god napravi neki uspeh.  Zato kad neka budala u Srbiji poseče hrast star preko 6 vekova, mi osuđujemo budalu a ne Srbiju.

https://instagram.com/stefpop/


Ne možemo dozvoliti da budemo mrzovoljni ili negativni jer to ubija ljubav koju imamo prema Srbiji.  To što živimo u dijaspori ne znači da Srbiju volimo manje, već možda da je volimo i više.  Nismo glasni nacionalisti, već velike patriote i to što volimo Srbiju, ne znači da mrzimo ono što nije srpsko.  Cenimo neke male stvari što ljudi koji ovde žive svaki dan možda ne cene.  Kao što zdrav covek ima milion želja, a bolestan čovek samo jednu.  Cenimo miris beogradskih ulica za vreme paklene vrućine, cenimo miris šumadijske trave posle velike letnje kiše, ukus hladne vode sa česme pored magistrale, osećaj vetra koji duva sa reke dok se šetamo sa dobrim društvom pored keja i stare kaldrme koje su možda nekima neudobne za šetanje, a za nas je svaki žulj dobrodošao i svaki korak nova uspomena.

https://instagram.com/stefpop/

 
Tu su naravno i ukus domaće hrane, vibracije domaće muzike i zvuk pozdrava "Srećan rad momci!" sa majstorima koji kopaju ispred kuće uz njihov odgovor "Hvala dečko, živ bio!"

Mi smo možda za neke ljude ovde ludi jer volimo Srbiju čak i kad je postalo normalno da je ne voliš.  Kad mržnja postane normalna, ljubav postane nenormalna, nažalost.  Jeste istina da živimo daleko od Srbije, ali to ne znači da ne razumemo kad joj je teško i šta muči našu braću i sestre koji ovde žive. Možda nam to i daje snagu da budemo objektivni.

https://instagram.com/stefpop/

Na kraju krajeva, možda je ova istina najvažnija: volimo Srbiju ali i vidimo da naša Srbija nije trenutno u najboljem stanju i da njeni građani zaslužuju bolje.  Svi znaju da su potrebne promene, a znanje nije dovoljno, potrebna je akcija.  I mi dijasporci možda najviše osećamo dužnost da krenemo sa akcijom zato što smo u mogućnosti da nešto uradimo.  Nismo naivni, nismo glupi, već verovatno dovoljno ludi da uspemo u tome da vizija budućnosti Srbije postane realna sadašnjost Srbije.  Ovo je naša kuća i ako idemo daleko od nje, kad se vratimo, uvek će ostati isti osećaj.  Konačno smo se vratili tu gde pripadamo.  Tu smo među svojima.  Kući smo.

** For more info, updates and photos, follow me on Twitter & Instagram **

* Ovaj moj tekst je prvi put izašao u informativnom i integracijskom časopisu " Spoji ! " - Prvom srpskom časopisu u Austriji, Nemačkoj i Švajcarskoj koji je pokrenut od omladine.

Friday, 8 April 2016

10 (and a bit) Reasons You Should Absolutely Not Cheer for Novak Djokovic!

He’s the world number one who makes all of the players ranked below him look like a collective giant "number two".  In light of the fact that another series of Djokovic triumphs has us hearing a series of different criticisms from people trying to justify why they dislike him, I felt it only fair that I compile a list of a few criticisms that will finally outline some completely valid reasons for disliking the super-serving, rapid returner with the back-hand from the city Belgrade and the forehand from the land of 4C’s.

1.  ALL HE DOES IS WIN WIN WIN, NO MATTER WHAT!

Loyal Grand Slam customers get looked after if they make an 11th purchase.


Djokovic wins… a lot.  Like he wins pretty much everything.  Last year he had the most successful season in tennis history!  You’re not the only one with a pool room Djoker!  Wanna give someone else a chance!?  The ATP tour’s become a series of Djokovic re-runs.  People attending live Grand Slam finals have started turning to each other before the first serve and saying, “haven’t we already watched this match like 8 times?”  On top of that, again as winner of the Australian Open, he left with $3.8 million this year.  Now what one person calls “prize money”, someone else might call “regularly exceeding the amount of money one person is allowed to take out of the country.”  Whether he’ll appear on an episode of 'Border Patrol' anytime soon, we can’t say for sure.  What we can say for sure is just that it’s disappointing to see Eastern European migrants coming in and taking hard-working Aussie jobs!


2.  THE UNFAIR ADVANTAGE.

He grew up during a time when NATO and US forces were dropping depleted uranium on Serbia, soooo he’s probably radioactive.  It just doesn’t seem right to cheer for someone who appears to have radioactive superpowers and therefore an unfair advantage over the rest of the ATP players, am I right!?  He’s pretty much one of the X-Men.


3.  THE UNUSUAL YOUTH TRAINING.

Don't take my word for it, take mathematics' word for it.

The unfair training advantage of the support from NATO and the US doesn’t stop there.  For example, while Federer grew-up playing tennis at a Swiss estate where there was a pool, Djokovic grew-up playing tennis in an empty pool during a state of emergency.  While Murray was allowed to stop training when his coach blew the whistle, Djokovic was allowed to train until the army sounded the air raid siren.  It’s a level court so shouldn’t it be a level playing field?

4.  DIET AND DONATION.

Firstly, he’s single-handedly making Santa and the Easter Bunny look bad with his overwhelming generosity.  I mean following his 2016 Australian Open win, he donated $20,000 to Melbourne City Mission's early childhood learning program!  Where does he get off!?  Added to that, he’s gluten-free and he spends a lot of time helping sick children and the less fortunate.  You know what that means - he probably has a weak immune system and he’s in all likelihood contagious.  Yep, generous or contagious people!?  Stick with people like Rafa; who seems to only have some sort of anal itch, and Kyrgios; whose charity work is limited to getting his brother and mates free tickets to his games.  Really, they’re the healthier option.


5.  MUM’S THE WORD.

Someone's not getting bitty tonight!


He’s defeated Murray dozens of times in front of his mum.  In front of his own mum!  Do you know how much that strains a relationship between a mother and son when the son repeatedly flies the mother out to the other side of the world only to see him embarrassed on each occasion?!  I bet she can’t even look Andy in the eyes when she breastfeeds him anymore.



6.  MR. NICE GUY.

He’s a nice guy AND he’s the world No.1!  Has he no respect for the sacred “nice guys finish last” rule!  If Djokovic keeps up this kind of behaviour, it’s going to force the wider community to question their belief system in terms of success and more importantly, where are all of Nick Kyrgios’ supporters going to go!?  Also, let's not forget he’s a Serbian coached by a German.  Between the two men’s countries dominating basketball, football, waterpolo and volleyball just to name a few sports, now they’re taking over tennis as well!  With the Serbian talent for sporting domination combined with the German quest for world domination, the west is screwed if WW3 is a sporting event.

7.  HE DE-RAILED THE FED-EXPRESS:

Started from the top and now my whole crew here.

He’s better than Roger Federer.  Wait, or is it “Federerer”?  How many “er’s” are there in this dude’s name anyway!?  Meh, I digress – Novak, you aren’t allowed to be better than Roger Federer!  Do you know how hard it is to draw a double-headed eagle on a tri-colour flag with face paint!?  It’s certainly a lot harder than cheering “Go Roger!” and drawing a first aid sign on one's face with two colours (one if you’re sunburnt or really pale)!  When you’ve been told by the mainstream media for so long that Federer is the "greatest of all time" and you go and kit yourself out with the appropriate supporters’ gear based on that assumption, only to have it proven wrong, where does that leave you with your credit card debt from SwissSupportersShop.com!?  Where does that leave you and your house full of Swiss flags that make you look like you live in a battlefield hospital and your collection of ‘RF’ caps that make you look like the most epic supporter of the Rotary Foundation in history!?

8 (and a bit).  THE UNPREDICTABLE BEHAVIOUR.

What’s with his erratic behaviour too!?  Like when he applauds his opponent when he makes a good shot and then smiles happily when he wins?  I’m sorry, haven’t you learned anything from Federer?  Why can’t you just ignore the achievements of your opponent and then cry when you win?!
*Sidenote:  It’s also okay to say Djokovic is arrogant once you’ve decided you dislike him.  I haven’t really made Webster’s Dictionary my bed time reading choice of late, but I’m pretty sure it outlines the definition of ‘arrogance’ as; “the expression of happiness from a person you dislike following a success they have achieved in spite of your overt dislike for them.”  Yep, a safe bet is this; happy Djokovic = "arrogant", sad Djokovic = "sore loser".  How much better do you feel about yourself now!?  It’s like I just poured you an extra glass of weekend on a Monday morning!

9.  SOMETHING DOESN’T ADD UP.

I stand by my made-up, non-existent movie.
He’s a Serbian guy that beats the very Anglo opponents he faces.  So I imagine it’s a massive shock to most of you that this flies in the face of what you’ve no doubt learned watching movies like 'Behind Enemy Lines' and 'The Peacemaker' where the guy with the Slavic last name is always the bad guy and always loses.  This isn’t sport, this is fan fiction!


10.  HE’S A BAD HOUSEGUEST.

Djokovic has won six trophies and more prize money at the Australian Open than any other competitor.  So he comes to Australia, as our guest year-in year-out, and like inviting a kleptomaniac tradie over to your house after hours for dinner, you end-up paying him handsomely only to have him leave the country with your finest silverware.
So in the end, let’s not forget Djokovic is the world number one.  He’s the best in the world at his job.  Yet every time he comes to work, he’s got to deal with several hundred people cheering for the guy who’s just rocked-up trying to get him fired and take his job.  People who probably watch the movie ‘Happy Gilmore’ and cheer for Shooter McGavin over Happy Gilmore.  A Wimbledon crowd that probably cheers for Johnny Lawrence against Daniel LaRusso in ‘The Karate Kid’ and a capacity Arthur Ashe Stadium that in all likelihood when watching ‘Indiana Jones & the Raiders of The Lost Ark’, cheers for the rolling giant ball rather than Indy.

If you read this as a genuine “how to” guide, there’s a chance you might have a severe 'Fed-oepus complex' (where you want to eliminate Federer’s wife and have an intimate relationship with Roger).  If you laughed, share it with your friends, cheer for Nole and show everyone that the Djoker is the King.
The King is still well and truly in the building.
** For more info, updates and photos, follow me on Twitter & Instagram **

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Daily Male Talks the 'Day of the Female'

March 8th; it’s so much more than just the day when the number of male feminists increases exponentially as men try to earn brownie points on social media.  It’s International Women’s day.  A day for celebrating the achievements and addressing the issues of the half of the world’s population that manages to repeatedly claim a larger portion of the doona cover from the other half of the world’s population.

This year’s official UN theme for International Women’s day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality” and why shouldn’t it be!?  I wouldn’t be writing this article if it wasn’t for a 50-50 effort from a male and female almost 30 years ago.  So on this your official day and in the spirit of your Patron Saint “Beyoncé”, this is just a one-day reminder of why you should enjoy today so much, as well as all the ways you make the other 364 days of the year pretty great/crazy/weird too.

The place of worship seems to be generally everywhere.

For starters, International Women’s Day is your day to celebrate just being you!  Like if Valentine’s Day celebrated singles.  A day where no matter what your profession, passion, nationality, religion or dietary requirements, you get to celebrate being a woman.  No exclusions, if the world was a Tinder app, you would all get a swipe right today just for being signed-up.  There hasn’t been such an indiscriminate celebration since the concept of the “participation award” in primary schools.  International Women’s Day is your own personal “Drake day.”  It’s your day to take pride in the achievements of women throughout history and now, and even though you may have not struggled at all, you get to blast Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” like it was based on your life story.

Today’s not just an opportunity to break the internet with inspirational Tupac quotes.  It’s a reminder to embrace all the stuff that makes women great.  The things that, much like garlic, egg and pepper, on their own aren’t great, but when mixed together make a pretty delicious omelette.  It’s for this reason that the recipe for many of the greatest women in history involves two-parts ‘resting bitch face’, one-part resting in your activewear, as well as several parts of your ability to say everything’s fine when it’s clearly not and your lack of shame in asking for directions when lost.  If you doubt any part of this, try to find a picture of Marie Curie smiling or Serena Williams not just kicking it in activewear.

The greats of history embraced the 'resting bitch face'.

Added in to all of this, let’s acknowledge that you balance out all the flaws of us men (and even as I write the word “men” to describe myself as one, I realise that the word “boy” feels more appropriate).  In a world where most men can barely remember to lower the toilet seat, today is a celebration of all of the women who never quit trying to raise the bar.  You’re a constant reminder to all the fans of the bible out there that even if women were truly made after men, it was because like any of us that have tried a recipe for the first time, you’re rarely happy with the result of your first attempt and need to make try a second time before you’re happy with the results.

I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that you’re so awesome that Bruce Jenner became one of you!  Let’s stop and appreciate just how massive this is.  You had an Olympic gold medallist and millionaire say his greatest achievement was finally becoming a member of your gender!  Now having only been a member of a few video stores, health funds and fast food clubs myself, I can’t imagine being a member of any group that would mean giving up so much to join but also make me feel as good as that.  Although it does explain why the Matildas have gained a bigger following over the last two weeks than Melbourne City FC has over the last six years.

      The Matildas                                       Melbourne City FC
Mathematics don't lie.

So more than anything, I wrote this piece because I thought you deserved a little more flattery (and hopefully laughs) than just 140 characters would provide.  So to all the women out there, whether you’re a ‘Dannii’ working on becoming a ‘Kylie’ or you’re a ‘Hillary’ but you think you’re a ‘Beyoncé’, Happy International Women’s Day to all of you.  I’ll leave you with a verse from your Patron Saint that I hope you’ll shout proudly as you read this; “Who run the world!?!?....”

Thursday, 11 February 2016

My Kitchen Rulebook: Countries Getting Credit for Cuisine

Well it was a Tuesday night of My Kitchen Rules that saw contestant Zana (and her subservient Italian houseboy with the spot of Velcro below his bottom lip) become a nightmare version of King Midas where everything she touched seemed to turn to ‘Albanian’.  An example being her attempt to claim paprika and pita.  Pita and paprika are about as Albanian as proportionate facial features and above average height.
 
So to prevent this misunderstanding happening repeatedly, I’m going to clearly outline which dishes belong to five selected nations as well as another five honourable mentions.
 

Italian

 

Any spin on pasta, pizza, garlic bread or risotto, Italians get to claim.  Pizza alone is a brilliant creation that no one should be allowed to take off you.  I mean seriously, it’s a series of delicious toppings melted together on top of an edible plate!  It’s yours and that was clear once a group of Japanese born ninja turtles loved their food so much that they decided to take on Italian names.  And full credit to Italians because they don’t so much live by a food pyramid as they do a food leaning tower of Pisa, and it’s leaning because it’s built completely on the weight of carbohydrates.  Sidenote, they’ve also done more for the consumption of tomatoes than if Mr. Heinz bought the city of Napoli and they’ve shown that a brilliant way to ensure no one else claims their sauces is to name them after Italian cities.  I’m also prepared to give you tiramisu, canoli and the stingiest coffee ever that serves the purpose of outlining who to drop from your friendship group when they mispronounce it “EXpresso”.  Really, the power of Italian cooking is that a pizza & pasta restaurant in Shepparton can put pineapple, egg and raw prawn on top of a dish and call it the ‘Aussie Special’ but it’s still an Italian dish.
 

French

 
 
Here’s what the French get; raw steaks and burnt custards, unsatisfyingly small portions and unnecessarily long breads as well as pate and dishes that look more like art instalments than dinner.  They get expensive cheeses, oily oxygen-filled pastries and yoghurts that belong in kids’ lunchboxes more than on dinner tables.  Unless Manu likes ‘Yoplait Petit Miam’, in which case I could be wrong.  If you find that at some point during the preparation of the food you’re using wine more than a Greek dish uses olive oil and then it takes you 45 minutes to plate it up, there’s a good chance whatever you’re making is French.  FYI Zana, that’s how you assign credit for a dish.  See even in McDonald's Tirana, I’m pretty sure they still call them French fries.  If the dish ends in a silent letter, isn’t pronounced how it’s spelled, various ingredients are supposed to have mould on them before preparation and the dish costs $130 per head, it may also be French.  Technically there’s a French theme to every meal seeing as we’ve already labelled stages of dining as hors d'oeuvres and entrée.  Meze has tried to take the monopoly off it so valiant effort.
 

Asian

 
 
There are far too many countries and different dishes in Asia with richly delicious dishes so it’s only fair that when assigning credit, we just roll with a general “Asian” label.  If in doubt, go with this logic; the dish’s label goes to the place where it came from, not from the person making it.  It’s probably a key reason why in Dandenong there are no “Albanian sushi” shops.  If your dish contains a mix of sweet and sour flavours, unless you’ve accidentally spilled your dessert into your main, then you’ve got an Asian dish on your hands.  Anything rice-based, be it noodles, main dish or alcohol can be claimed by Asia.  They gave us fish that doesn’t need to be cooked, ice-cream that can be fried and MSG that can go with everything.  The other great thing about Asian cuisine is it’s so popular, identifiable and comes with its own culturally specific cutlery that it requires little detailed description here and is pretty much “Zana-proof.”
 

Greek

 
 
If the hero of your dish is a combination of lamb, lemon and a suspicious absence of lettuce in any of your salads, that’s a Greek dish.   The only way it could be more Greek is if it was served with a side of financial crisis on a bed of yoghurt and a plate made of an old marble tile.  This includes gyros and moussaka.  As for dessert, galaktoboureko and tulumbe can have the Greek flag planted on top of them because any dessert that can turn you from ironman to diabetic in one sitting is decidedly Greek.  Worth also mentioning that Greeks and Serbs get to share a number of dishes including pita though because we share so much anyway including borders, a religion, a Cyrillic alphabet and a history of fighting the Turks.
 

Serbian

 
 
This leads me nicely into Serbia.  This is a fun one because basically if the dish caters for approximately 10 times the number of guests you’re hosting, I’d like to say that it can be claimed as a Serbian dish.  If it contains cabbage, a large quantity of beautifully prepared but proudly un-marinated meat, sausages with no skin on them, is considered too salty by the Australian dinner guests and anything where beans are a main dish rather than a condiment, it can be claimed as a Serbian dish.  Cevapi, pljeskavice, sarma, kajmak, kacamak and proja are stamped with the “4 C’s of ownership”.   As for the sweets; look to whatever an old Serbian baba makes like she went to school for it and you’ll find your answer.  They don’t know how to lie and take great pride in making exclusively Serbian specialties so you can be sure zito, oblande, knedle and even Zana’s krofne can be painted ‘red-blue-white’.  It’s fair to also say that if there are more than 1000 calories per square centimetre of the dish you’ve prepared, it’s a Serbian dish.  If the peppers are minced into a relish, the yoghurt is poured as a drink and the entrée is heavier than most mains, this is also a good chance it’s Serbian.
 

**Honourable mentions**

 

German:

They get schnitzel, stuffed sausages, pickled everything and heavy beers.  The food may not be the best, but the waitresses serving it often are.
 

Indian:

Curry, samosas and just generally food that spends more time going out that coming in.
 

Mexican:

From burritos to quesadillas to nachos and tacos as well as jalapenos and salsa, if the ‘J’ in the dish is pronounced as an ‘H’, the ‘L’ is pronounced as a ‘Y’ and the final stage of preparation of the dish has to be done by the diners at the table, you get to claim it.
 

Spanish:

Tapas, churros, paella, sangria and chorizo.  From dips and drinks, to dinner and desserts, you can safely plant your flag on these dishes and rest assured you won’t look like a culinary version of your homegrown explorer Christopher Columbus.
 

Australian:

Pies taken from the English, a cake named after a Russian, biscuits named after soldiers.  Also, meat taken from the animals on our coat of arms, flavourless wheat-based breakfast biscuits, yeast extract spread.  Coles and Woolworths snags and burgers aren’t the finest product but apparently they seem hell bent of bringing them out at every barbecue/celebration/dinner party so it seems fair to include them as a national dish too.
 
So my sign-off here is half for Zana and half for the MKR contestants to come:
To Zana; like a dodgy worker at an even dodgier accountant’s office, you’re trying to claim way too much!  Your Porsche isn’t an Albanian car just because you drive it, your local Woolies isn’t an Albanian supermarket just because you shop in it and unless Jamie Oliver has fallen on extremely hard times and had to start selling his merchandise from a van in the city of Tirana, I’m pretty sure you aren’t using Albanian cookware either.  The key point to take away from this is that just because someone in your country makes it, doesn’t make it a national dish of your country. 
 
To the rest of the contestants:  In the end, like a politician making a speech at a festival and thanking the traditional owners of the land, when you’re putting that MKR meal on the table, thank the traditional owners of the dish.  Consider giving credit to the country that’s really responsible for the dish you’re preparing.  Something along the lines of; “tonight’s dish is a Hong Kong salad with Vietnamese noodles, brought to you by Gavin and Karen from Wangaratta.”  Happy cooking!

** For more info, updates and photos, follow me on Twitter & Instagram **
 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

#NoKosovoUnesco: When Society Showed Response-Ability but Government Claimed Responsibility

In light of Tomislav Nikolic and his cabinet essentially taking credit for the success of the #NoKosovoUnesco campaign, it’s important to highlight a few important points that demonstrate the inaccuracy of this claim.  Not least of which is the fact that if it were true, it would be a remarkable achievement given that no one’s quite sure of exactly what it is that the president does or is doing in Serbia or outside of it most of the time.  We see so much of our Prime Minister, you could be forgiven for thinking that Serbia is in fact a member of the Commonwealth.


Firstly, the best way that this government assisted with the #NoKosovoUnesco cause was by demonstrating a dedication to doing the bare minimum for it and then just hoping for the best.  Unfortunately with that approach, all we could really expect was the worst.  The reason that I say this was the best assistance they could have provided is because it forced those of us both in Serbia and in diaspora to take responsibility ourselves and show the initiative they had failed to show.  It brought together the best of the Serb community (including non-Serbs who were sympathetic to this cause) into a sort of giant think tank and taskforce.  It demonstrated that when we combined our numbers with our love for our homeland and our brothers and sisters living in it, our potential was unlimited.  From active protests on the ground in Serbia (from Kosovo to Novi Sad) to consolidated PR campaigns across Europe, Canada, the US and even down to right here in Australia, the government showed little interest in lending anything more than moral support when work was underway, but were eager to take all of the credit when the work was completed.


We’ve heard this government pride themselves on having spent almost nothing on stopping Kosovo from becoming a UNESCO member, and that’s true.  It’s true because they were never sent invoices for '28 Jun' members’ around the clock campaigning, they were never sent invoices for Boris Malagurski’s late nights spent arranging graphic designs for the cause and for Filip Filipi’s coordination of petition promotion.  They weren’t sent invoices for supporters around the world securing signatures, they weren’t sent invoices for journalist write-ups about all of this work from people such as Katarina Martic at 'Kurir' and they weren’t sent invoices for my work in Australia or for the articles written on my blog ‘The Daily Male’ attempting to communicate our message further.  The irony of it all though; they did little to earn any credit for this campaign yet they were the only ones being paid to work on this cause.


This is perhaps a good time to raise this issue given the controversy surrounding a video posted by Andrej Fajgelj, a Serbian citizen, criticising the Serbian government.  Now we’re not Andrej Fajgelj but we share his concern.  And unlike Fajgelj, our power is in our numbers as well as in our dedication.  Our voices have become too loud for this government to silence us.  There are too many of us for them to break down our doors and imprison us.  Our successes have been too significant for them to discredit us so instead they opt to claim responsibility for them.  So I’ll leave you with my personal message to the Serbian government and it’s a sentiment I think is shared by many others.  It seems that if this government was as willing and quick to accept responsibility for many of Serbia’s problems as they were to take responsibility for its successes, then Serbia would really be on the path to a better future.


** For more info, updates and photos, follow me on Twitter & Instagram **

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Triggers in Paris: What it Took for Humanity to Become a Trending Topic

If you’re one of the many people who’s dedicated more than a few statuses, tweets or Instagram posts to the Paris terrorist attacks, there’s a good chance you’re not the authority on the issue you seem to be or quite the humanitarian you claim to be.  In what's proven to be a shocking few days in world events across a number of countries, it’s hard to say if people have taken the time to learn any more from these incidents than the order of the French tricolour… if that.  In reality, we’ve perhaps learned more from people’s reaction to these events, than we have from the events themselves.



So what have we learned?  Well we’ve learned that while our hearts may very well be in the right place, at times our minds are definitely not.  The Paris attacks revealed an incredible naivety, Eurocentrism and lack of commitment on our parts that we have sadly seen time and time again.  We’ve learned this in the same way that we learned most of us are really only interested in addressing human rights violations in Africa when it involves us sharing a ‘Kony 2012’ profile picture.  We’ve learned this in the same way that we learned most of us will only really show an interest in supporting medical research when it involves posting a video of us completing a challenge on social media that might help get more than the ten likes we normally average on a post.  Now, sadly we’ve learned this as we’ve seen a vast majority of people only show a willingness to make vocal appeals for humanity and compassion on social media when tragedy strikes popular Contiki destinations or places they once visited and posted a photo in.  Our compassion towards, consideration of and commitment to a cause should not and must not be determined by our vested interest in it, but it seems that it is.

The flag being flown all over the world at the moment.

Compassion is something you either possess or you don’t and you can’t turn it on and off whenever you feel like it.  Therefore, it should be concerning to us all that we only seem willing to show support for particular causes when it seems like that’s what everyone else is doing.  If we latched onto causes as firmly as we latched onto hashtags, we could really begin to get “#HelpForEveryone” rather than just “#PrayForParis.”  So I’m going to do something everyone should be doing with relation to this issue and that’s leaving religion out of it.  It’s a factor in the issue of the attacks but it’s almost irrelevant when it comes to how we deal with this issue.  What we need to start addressing is the hypocrisy and the double standards we seem to be demonstrating and the fact that we in the west (and this includes western Europe) appear to value our lives more than some others.

The world reacts... though often too late.

We demonstrate this when we allow media and ourselves to brush over the U.S bombing of numerous civilian targets, most recently a hospital in Afghanistan, but we devote almost 24-hour coverage to a terrorist attack in Paris.  That’s why we have these problems, because a vast majority of us only engage in selective compassion.  I’m extremely angry with many western governments and their foreign policies, in particular the E.U and the U.S.  I’m not a Muslim and I’m not angry because I’m an Orthodox Christian.  My disdain and anger has nothing whatsoever to do with my religion.  I say this to reiterate that my frustration and disappointment stems from the fact that these same world powers repeatedly get away with murder and destruction because they package it up as something much nicer and more honourable than it is, where they attempt to convince us that their ends always justify their means.  What's most saddening though is that many people believe them and in fact fail to see that these are foreign policies that breed contempt and violence, where their means always seem to lead to innocent people falling victim in the end.

We need to realise that part of showing compassion now is remembering when we should have shown the same compassion before.  Remembering that in 1999, almost 4000 people (many of whom were children) were killed in the 78 day bombing campaign of Serbia.  16 employees working late in a TV station were killed when NATO forces bombed the RTS building in Belgrade.  There was no international condemnation in response to this, no recognition of this as an act of terror and no candlelight vigils in international capitals.  In Beslan, Russia less than 10 years ago, 385 people were killed in a terrorist attack on a school.  186 of those killed were children.  Profile pictures weren’t changed to Russian flags and the world didn’t stop to remember.  On the same night of the Paris attack, a terrorist attack in the Lebanese capital of Beirut killed 44 people and barely warranted a mention in the mainstream media.  The same can be said for U.S-led air strikes in Syria, which alone have claimed over 450 civilian lives.  I mention all of these because we need to realise that the more selective we become about the violence we chose to mourn, the more random the violence becomes.

Egypt projects Lebanese, Russian and French flags on the pyramids of Giza
as a mark of respect for the victims of terror attacks in the respective countries.

The core of the problem is that the west convinces us that the bombs we drop overseas are good, yet only an attack on us is classified as an 'act of terror.'  It’s hypocrisy that calls civilian deaths in NATO bombing campaigns “collateral damage” but western deaths in Paris “an international tragedy.”  It serves to convince us that it’s okay for us not to bat an eyelid when Charlie Hebdo makes fun of Russian air-crash victims, or Serbian civilian casualties, but we must condemn anyone attempting to make light of an attack against us.  And worst of all, even if most people don’t want to admit it, we appear to value our lives more than those of people living in some other parts of the world.

The concept of mocking victims is less appealing when you become the victims.

Maybe it’s because most people haven’t been backpacking through Beslan.  They haven’t visited the markets of Beirut.  They haven’t spent their honeymoon in Belgrade.  None of these cities have been branded ‘The City of Love.’  Whatever the case may be, my point is this; it doesn’t devalue the lives of the people living within them.  It’s wonderful that you've taken the time to change your profile picture, that you've pleaded for others to say a prayer and then you've gone to sleep feeling like you’ve done something to make the world a slightly better place.  I guess I’d just like to see a world where people try a little bit harder to do something good, rather than trying so damned hard to make it look like they’re doing something good.  A world where people are hopefully informed enough to know at least that I've put the French tricolour in the wrong order after the second paragraph.  Because it’s no good to keep saying we support people in times of crisis if we only lend our support to certain people in time of crisis and if we do nothing to combat the causes of the crisis.

So thankyou for changing your profile pictures and sharing your posts.  My question is, where was this concern earlier and more importantly, where will it be in a week’s time?


** For more info, updates and photos, follow me on Twitter & Instagram **

Sunday, 8 November 2015

726 Words for #NoKosovoUnesco

This blog post contains exactly 726 words.  This is certainly not an incidental word count and it’s much more than a word limit I’ve imposed on myself.  It contains 726 words because ‘726’ is the combined sum of 263 Serbian Orthodox churches, monasteries & church properties, 174 religious facilities, 33 cultural & historical monuments and 256 Serbian cemeteries desecrated or completely destroyed in Kosovo since 1999.

Albanians specialise in coming in like the "wrecking ball" Miley Cyrus sings about.

This is an attempt to explain to non-Serbian friends and followers what the #NoKosovoUnesco campaign is about.  What all my tweets and retweets have been in aid of.  This is, at its core, a custody battle between Serbia and the self-proclaimed “independent” state of Kosovo, over Serbian cultural heritage sites in the region.  It’s a custody battle based on safety and well-being rather than mere possession.  An attempt to protect innocent children from a negligent step-parent who wants sole custody of them, but tends to have a nasty habit of setting them on fire, knocking them over and generally scribbling messages of hate on them at any opportunity.   A step-parent who will certainly do them harm if they are awarded custody.  Serbian heritage sites are already registered with UNESCO as a part of Serbia.  They’re happy with the parent they have and anything more than visitation rights for Kosovo would be a gross misjudgement.  Like sending your children on a camping trip with Ivan Milat and Lindy Chamberlain or cheering for the Albanians rather than Liam Neeson when watching the film ‘Taken.’
Kosovo: keen to help shorten UNESCO's site list. 

Currently, Kosovo’s under the UN Interim Administration and isn’t subject to international law, which is why it can’t become a member of UNESCO.  The Kosovo parliament says it plans to adopt a law on cultural heritage which will deny private ownership rights to the Orthodox Church over monasteries and churches, with the explanation that these are all “property of the republic of Kosovo.”  Unless UNESCO has changed its over-arching policy from one of preservation to one of desecration, this seems like an outcome worth fighting.  One of the best points on the issue was raised by Father Sava Janjic, Archdeacon of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery Decani in Kosovo who said “Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo are living places of worship and not only cultural heritage sites.”  The danger of Kosovo UNESCO membership is that it will turn living sites into relics and then relics into ruins.  Given their plans for these heritage sites, if Kosovo’s government wants to be a part of any abbreviated organisation, perhaps they’d be more suited to ISIS than UNESCO.

Kids have this great habit of telling it as it is.

We’re a part of a generation where superhero films are more popular than ever, yet more people than ever are unwilling to commit to the causes these films tend to represent; justice, moral servitude and just generally doing what’s right.  Perhaps it’s because we enjoy these films for a different reason.  Not simply because they represent people fighting for these ideals and suggest that good ultimately must always prevail over evil, but because they play into most people’s belief that while we know what needs to be done, there are other people who will do it for us.

The Avengers didn't prevent this.  It's up to us to be their superheroes.

I suppose my message is this – it doesn’t make you a better person for being passive.  It doesn’t make the world a better place if you sit on the fence.  What’s the point of having followers if you don’t have a message and what’s the use of having a platform if you’re unwilling to take a stand?  Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked that “to ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it.”  People often seem to enjoy relying on the belief that there is always a “grey” area in order to avoid having to make a decision when presented with a “black & white” ultimatum.  I hear so many people complaining about how things should be and yet they’re often the same ones unwilling to accept part of the responsibility for bringing about the change they desire.  People that expect governments to implement new policies and leaders to improve lifestyle, yet people who aren’t prepared to sign a petition.

So how about this; with the ease that you click ‘like’ on that Instagram post or click ‘open’ on the YouTube video you were tagged in on Facebook, do something useful and click on this link, and leave your signature on something worthwhile?


** For more info, updates and photos, follow me on Twitter & Instagram **