A Painful and Sobering Reflection


A slightly upgraded version of my message shared yesterday on my Facebook page.

For more than fifteen years I have been privileged to lead a leadership development and reconciliation ministry that continues to teach the young leaders of the Balkans to reject hate speech, racism, national and religious and political nationalism, ethnic tribalism, nation worship, and veneration of cult leaders.

The reason behind my efforts, and the efforts of many involved in the ministry, are to be found in the troublesome history of the Balkans, recent history included. Religious and ethnic nationalism, as well as ethnic tribalism shaped the history and culture of the Southeast Europe, or the Balkans. Thousands paid with their lives over all kinds of “shibboleths”. And the story of Balkan nationalism is not a bygone story yet, unfortunately.

I would be a big hypocrite, and the most dishonest person with no moral credentials, if I were to continue teaching the young people of the Balkans, or elsewhere, to recognize and oppose any form of nationalism-worship in other places if I deliberately, or for any other reason pretend to not see, or fail to point out that the same social sins and evils (that have led to the breakup of the former Yugoslavia twenty-five plus years ago) are at this time flourishing and intensifying in this country under its current leadership.

Believe me, all brands of nationalism are the same. The manifestations of nationalism in the countries of the Balkans, or Rwanda and Burundi, or the UK, or the US, or anywhere else manifest the same kind of symptoms, speak the same language, and eventually give birth to the same fruit of wickedness. At the end of the day it is the ordinary people who pay the price. And the nations pursuing aggressively the sins of nationalism and nation worship do not end up “great” after all.

I am glad that many of my American friends see that this is so. Many of them are raising their voices of concern. I am sorry if I am hurting the feelings of those who do not want to see that America is steadily and quickly departing from what it used to be not so long ago: a moral leader, example in the protection of human rights and human dignity, and inspiration and sign of hope to many nations – the qualities that truly made America great in the past.

One thing needs to be said, though: most of Americans are not nationalists, racists, or the nation or leader-cult worshipers. They are beautiful, warm, inclusive and friendly people. Most of the ones I know personally are like that. You, my friends are continuing to inspire and encourage me. You are the sign of hope for this country at this time when a vocal but sizable minority has become empowered to take America into an un-American, highly dangerous direction for the country and the world.




About Tihomir Kukolja

Tihomir Kukolja, born in Pozega, Croatia. Studied, lived and worked in Yugoslavia, Croatia, United Kingdom, Australia and the US. Educated in theology, communications, and radio journalism. Worked as a church pastor, media professional, radio producer and presenter, journalist, religious liberty activist, and reconciliation and leadership development activist. Lives in Houston TX, USA. Until recently served as the Executive Director, Forum for Leadership and Reconciliation (Forum), and Director of Renewing Our Minds (ROM) initiative. Loves photography, blogging and social media.
This entry was posted in Current Issues, Human Dignity, Human Rights, Leadership, Life Issues, People, Politics, Reflection and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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