On Orthodox Easter this year, instead of happy and holy words, the children in the town of Borovo Selo, Croatia heard a group of people chant and sing 'Oh, my Croatian mother, we will slaughter Serbs ("Oj Hrvatska mati, Srbe ćemo klati").' For the people who missed this shocking performance live, the widely circulated clip was almost inescapable on social media.
Imagine a child or a young teen witnessing this scene. Living with the still fresh trauma of the 90s war, this unholy display will only end up reinforcing deep-seated generational trauma. And it doesn’t just impact Serbian children; the display of fans guarded by police officers singing death threats will normalize this behaviour for the next generation of Croatians - thus fuelling a new cycle of hate and anger into the future.
Is this what we want?
It is not possible that people of both sides of the ethnic spectrum would want anything but peace and happiness for their children. The state of Croatia, especially as an EU state, has to work hard to provide a peaceful environment for ALL to live and prosper with equality. We cannot let these opportunities and gains go to waste.
Here we must mention the exceptional impact these situations can have on children in orphanages. Without parental guidance to provide context and living with the damage of losing their family – these children won't be able to understand what's normal or right. They have no one to tell them that what happened on Orthodox Easter isn't usual or correct.
We must break this cycle of hate from gaining momentum. And that is only possible if we all – that is, every single citizen – commit to using love and understanding as our common national language.
We are one people, and we cannot allow the feeling of othering to take root.
We must choose unity.
The alternative cannot even be envisioned.