Last night I attended my monthly book club at the public library. Our book for the month of June had been The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. What an amazing book and what a wonderful discussion. “The Sarajevo in this novel is only one small part of the real city and its people, as imagined by the author. This is above all else a work of fiction.” It is fiction set in a real event in the recent past and that may be what makes it so chilling. More than once during our discussion last evening someone commented “why, don’t I remember this. why wasn’t I aware of this.” I defaulted to “maybe the media wasn’t reporting it. Maybe it wasn’t in front of us.” But that isn’t a reason not to be informed. There was also discussion about what it must be like to live with war waging around you. We shared stories of images seen during childhood that shaped us today. We also wondered what would we do in those circumstances would we be brave, would we be our “brother’s keeper”.
“The city he lives in is full of people who will someday go back to treating each other like humans. The war will end, and when it’s looked back upon it will be with regret, not with fond memories of faded glory. In the meantime, he will continue to walk the streets. Streets that will not have dead and discarded bodies lying in them. He will behave now as he hopes everyone will someday behave. Because civilization isn’t a thing that you build and then there it is, you have it forever. It needs to be built constantly, re-created daily. It vanishes far more quickly than he ever would have thought possible. And if he wishes to live, he must do what he can to prevent the world he wants to live in from fading away. As long as there’s war, life is a preventable measure.”
I have been pondering that quote in light of today being the 4th of July – America’s birthday. I am grateful to the men and women serving in our military whether at home or overseas. I am saddened that their families will have empty chairs at the tables due to deployment or even worse due to the ultimate sacrifice. I also feel that as a nation there are “wars” waging within our borders – poverty, unemployment, healthcare reform, care of the aged, immigration, religious freedoms,etc… Mr. Galloway, I hope you don’t mind but I tweaked Dragan’s thoughts on page 151 of The Cellist of Sarajevo for the 4th of July, 2012 – “The country she lives in is full of people who will someday go back to treating each other like humans. The issues/problems will be resolved and when they are looked back upon it will be with regret, not with fond memories of faded glory and which party won. She will behave now as she hopes everyone will someday behave with respect for her fellow countrymen. Because civilization isn’t a thing that you build and then there it is, you have it forever. It needs to be built constantly, re-created daily. It vanishes far more quickly than she ever would have thought possible. And if she wishes to live, she must do what she can to prevent the world she wants to live in from fading away. “