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The Siege of Sarajevo's Effect on Miki

Miki Jacevic, Bosnian Survivor

I think I look back to my wounds, and there are many scars, actually, and they're all -- at the same time, I do want to say I do not view my experience as something deeply tragic, because out of my suffering and out of everything that happened to me came enormous compassion. And it changed my life. It really -- I was going to be a business student; I was a business student, and I was going to be a businessperson and run the world pretty much regularly, like it has been run. And it opened me to new possibilities of healing that happen on that individual level of looking into my own wounds.

But it really created a new spiritual path for me. I transformed into somebody who deeply cares about human beings, who deeply cares about life on Earth and connectedness of all and trying to prevent what happened to me, to many other people. And that broke me into literally situation of traveling around everywhere in the world and having blissful opportunity of meeting so many more young people who had these great dreams about how our world can be. And in that sense, all of my wounds and scars -- which are huge, again, because I have witnessed a lot of that destruction and violence. All of the dreams of a wonderful city, of a great community, of a beautiful family, have been broken by what happened in the early '90s.

At the same time, I view it as a circle in which out of that tragedy came beauty, and I see all of my life being on that path of trying to point to other people that we can only end those circles of violence and anger ourselves. There is nothing that the U.N. or political realm or the world can do to stop this. Ultimately, it is an individual choice of all us deciding, if we are put in a situation like that, do we or don't we endorse genocide and violence? And what it produced for me is ability to take it out to other people and other worlds, and start with my own circles when I started my student groups, and say that there are ways to say no, that it should stop with me, it should stop with us. And by promoting that message, that's where I see change happening.

And I literally witnessed it on large scale levels in Kosovo, where we worked with the non-student violence. I witness it every time I go to South Africa. It's the beauty of people realizing that by coming together and stopping whatever circles of revenge-violence-vengeance, the only time that change happens is that justice of realizing something horrible has happened to you can meet mercy of realization that only be stopping it and forgiving, and never forgetting but really seeing this is now the time and place in history where I as an individual can make a very conscious choice of making the acts of conscious compassion and reaching out to other people, and by then providing for my own personal healing and closing my wounds, closing the family wounds, and then taking it to the level of society, and eventually to the whole world.

So, I see it as a very tangible process. I see that my scars that I carry with me are also the sources of the best things that have happened to me. And I nourish them and I respect them. I'm not trying to put them off; I'm not trying to say, "Oh, that didn't happen" and the way it didn't happen. I realize the full source of all that stuff can be a lesson for my entire life.

Miki Jacevic
The Siege of Sarajevo's Effect on Miki