The Science of Understanding

November 25, 2013

The Chronicle of Higher Education from the US spent a year researching and writing an article, or perhaps story would better suit its description, about Sabina and her research ( It is titled the Science of Hate. It's the only thing in the entire length of the story that I disagree with. I'm not a firm believer in hate. I think it's an easy label to slap on without having to deal with the true emotions underlying 'hate.' But hell, who am I to say?

Sabina does not deal with politics as some may think. She is not in the business of pointing fingers. What Sabina does is try to measure human emotions, which, as we all know, are not always rational or even explicable.

The journalist, a soft spoken and exceptionally detailed Austinite named Tom Bartlett, visited us this past spring. He was genuinely intrigued not only about Bosnia and its schizophrenic plight but about how to move this place forward. He was objective. Thorough. Curious. A good listener. A great researcher. He shares a lot in common with Sabina.

Today some of us celebrate statehood day for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Probably about half of us don't. What encourages me, though, is how many people still care about this place. Bosnia and Herzegovina is, quite frankly, piss-poor at nurturing its friendships. We have not tuned in to the abundance of soft spots that many fine people all across the globe have for this country and ALL its people.

The road ahead for us here in Bosnia is, at best, uncertain. It's a reality that seems to come with the territory. Experience has taught me that not much of anything in life is black and white. Even if at times we all wished it were that simple, it simply is not. Our personal experiences shape our world view...if indeed we have a world view to speak of at all. For me, the value of what Sabina is doing is that it measures how we feel and not what we want or expect the outcome to be. It is an honest and open approach not only to science but towards basic human relations. For me that means to learn to respect feelings regardless of how absurd or misguided we might deem them to be. Regardless of the rights or wrongs, it's fucking hard to wipe away an emotion. It's hard for any of us to truly look in the mirror and acknowledge a lifetime of trash we carry with us, not to mention letting go of a torturous past.

What Sabina is looking for is the path forward...a path that is based on the fears and desires of the people that have to embark on that journey - in their own time and their own way (with perhaps a little positive manipulation here and there). Her research has proved that there is a way forward, although it may be contrary to what our logic (including mine) may tell us. The most valuable lesson I get from living and sleeping with Sabina's research is that there is no place for assumptions or even wish lists. It has to be a clean and honest slate.

My ramble is over. Sretan Dan Drzavnost for those who celebrate it. And for those who don't an honest desire that you will one day feel comfortable joining us. We would absolutely love to have you. And if not, that's ok too.



The Bosnia Guy