L – 1994 – Temerin
Student of Mechatronics and volunteer at the Office for Youth, Temerin.
Q: Tell me, what does it mean ’to belong somewhere’ to you?
A: To belong somewhere? Well, where you feel free, where you can be who you are, where people appreciate you exactly for who you are, right? I think those are some basic things, not to be discriminated.
Q: What does that feel like?
A: Well, it’s that feeling of freedom and belonging, right?
Q: Do you have a place where you feel you belong completely?
A: Well, it depends. It really depends on the environment and people who surround me. Usually I have places, starting with my home and places where my closest friends gather, where we’ve known each other for years and where we’re really like brothers or I don’t know…
Q: So, in that group you say you feel like you’ve known each other for years?
A: Basically we don’t have to know each other for years, but we understand each other.
Q: That’s what I wanted to ask.
A: To be on the same wave length, so to say.
Q: Yes, yes, yes. When you’re in a group and there’s someone else that does not belong to that group next to you, do you try to get that group, that person involved into your group or…?
A: Well, it depends whether that person even wants to join the group. If they want, of course I’ll help them adapt to our group and our way of thinking, having fun and all.
Q: And with this we’ve established that there are groups. What does it feel like knowing that the groups really exist?
A: Well, I don’t know how to define that. That division is… Basically, people divide into all kinds of things. The divisions are created between them, which is bad in a way and good on the other hand. Everything has its good and bad side, right? Well, it depends. It really depends.
Q: When is that good?
A: Well, it’s good if people gather with a goal that is positive, by which they can change something to benefit everyone else, as well as themselves, that’s why they started it, and that’s really OK.
Q: Yes. Groups can definitely change things. Do you think that an individual can as well?
A: The individual can too. And it should start with an individual. Later that grows, spreads and gets into people, into their heads and consciousness, and they gather into groups that can actually do something about it.
Q: Do you think you’re one of those individuals that are trying to…?
A: Well, I don’t know, it depends in which aspect. Right now I’m trying to help with this youth activism. We are all a group here, although there are people who coordinate. So, something can definitely be done.
Q: Tell me, do we belong to a certain group simply by being born?
A: Well, I don’t know how to define that. It depends in what way. Some ethnic group, I don’t know…
Q: Do you think that nationality already creates some kind of identity?
A: Well, I don’t know. Maybe it shouldn’t, although it does in many people. It seems to me it does in most people.
Q: You had encounters with that?
A: Well, I think that everyone has encounters on a daily basis with people who feel strong national affiliation, who support, for instance, only their own group – Serbs only Serbs. Hungarians on the other side, all those nationalities. But I think that’s completely wrong.
Q: Yes. But do you think it’s created by birth or by something else?
A: Well, that depends more on what they teach him at home.
Q: On what they teach them at home?
A: Yes. You behave the way your parents teach you. Actually, your environment also should influence you. For instance, I was lucky to live in an environment where I was surrounded with Serbs, Hungarians and others. And we always got along just fine, so some kind of tolerance developed and the feeling of community, which is completely normal and natural. No divisions of any kind between us. People are either good or bad.
Q: And can bad people become good?
A: Of course they can if they want to.
Q: Tell me, how does it feel knowing you belong, that you’re in a group?
A: I don’t have a clue, I never really thought about it.
Q: You never thought about it?
A: No. I don’t really have a feeling it’s some kind of a group that is somehow separate. I can’t define it.
Q: And do you think you’re tolerant?
A: Definitively. Yes.
Q: Do you realize that in everyday situations in which you find yourself or…?
A: Well, basically, yes. Basically yes.
Q: And do you also see intolerance on a daily basis?
A: There is a lot of it. A lot. At every step.
Q: Will you tell me something about it?
A: Well, I don’t know. Just now we can see this religious intolerance, then towards the LGBT population. Right now this thing about Pride is in focus, which is not tolerated by the Serbian Orthodox Church and other extremists at all. Mostly right wing. Those are just a few examples. My mind blanked.
Q: What do you think about the statement that if you’re not a part of the solution you’re a part of the problem?
A: I don’t know.
Q: You never thought about it?
A: No, I really haven’t. Why would I be a problem if I’m not part of some solution?
Q: If, now for instance we mentioned LGBT or national… if you, for example, never found yourself in a situation to be insulted on the basis of your sexual orientation or nationality, do you then think you shouldn’t help people who are facing such problems?
A: In situations like that we should help everyone. I simply believe that there is not enough empathy in people, to be able to feel compassion with those people who are facing that kind of abuse, because that is psychological abuse. So, I would help, of course. I’ve found myself in a situation once where my friend was being bullied for being Hungarian, and I took his side and then nothing happed, they accepted him.
Q: That’s how it should be.
A: Yes. I grew up with him; we were basically inseparable since we were four.
Q: You grew up here in Temerin?
A: Yes, yes.
Q: Was it always like this or…?
A: Well, in the beginning I didn’t notice that. However, lately there have been, as media calls it, some national tensions. Although, I think that’s not it. As I’ve heard, those are basically more some right wing organisations on our side and on their side, so those conflicts are mostly between them, but they suck some people into it who are neutral. So they can create a problem for those people too. That’s based on the information I have, I’m not sure. I’m not very interested in that because I think those people are completely irrelevant and there are not enough of them to cause greater harm to the community of people who are tolerant amongst themselves and who support each other and create the community in general.
Q: How much tolerance is there in the world?
A: Well, it depends. I don’t know.
Q: Did you have more contact with tolerance or intolerance?
A: Well, basically, in this part of our country tolerance is more present than, I don’t know, someplace else. At least as far as I’m… In these multi-ethnic communities people are used to each other and their differences, and they simply respect each other.
Q: Do you think multi-ethnic society is a good thing?
Q: What can we gain from it?
A: It’s completely OK because it teaches us that sense of community and that all people should stick together, without fighting each other, to live in harmony, to be OK with each other. Neighbourly. If necessary just ‘Hello neighbour’, if nothing else.
Q: And you mentioned media. In your opinion, how big is the role of the media in those conflicts?
A: Basically, in this information society the role of the media is huge. The things they release, and they release all kinds of things, directly influence the minds of the people who consume it. For example, you have Blic and Kurir. They publish all kinds of nonsense, to put it like that, and people read and accept everything with no critical attitude, without even thinking about it, without researching, they just accept it as it comes. So, media definitely has an impact on the consciousness of some people. Although, it might be even most people.
Q: The way you talk about it, I have a feeling that media coverage is mostly negative?
A: Well, it shouldn’t be negative, but that’s how it presents itself. I have lately stopped watching television. I’m not interested at all. They’re airing complete nonsense. Maybe they make sense, I don’t know. But I’m not interested in what they have to say, because I have no use of it basically. When did Novak Đoković take a shower or something like that, all nonsense.
Q: Yes, yes.
A: Why should I care?
Q: And, in your opinion, how important is the role of school in forming the right way of thinking?
A: Well, it all begins with preschool. That’s where it starts and then later, as they grow up the personalities are formed in that community, class, where people meet, socialize, study together. And, of course, that’s where a personality is formed.
Q: And how much does school actually help in accepting differences? How much does it teach us tolerance?
A: Well, I’m really not sure about that. We used to have a school here in Temerin which had both Hungarian and Serbian classes together, all in one school, and tolerance was much more present then in comparison with today when they’ve split the school into Hungarian and Serbian. The children don’t know each other at all nowadays and then some kind of intolerance… some tensions develop between them because they don’t know, like ‘Hey, he’s Hungarian, he’s no good’, ‘Hey, he’s a Serb, and he won’t speak Serbian’. Complete nonsense.
Q: How much influence do our words have on other people?
A: It depends how they are received. It depends, I don’t know.
Q: Are you being careful with expressing yourself?
A: Well, mostly yes. Except when I’m with my friends, then it’s relaxed.
Q: And do you understand the power of your words? That, even though sometimes it might not seem to you that something you say is in a context that is negative, it can actually have a negative connotation?
A: Well, it can. It can if I don’t express myself well, and it’s also a subjective feeling of a person to whom I spoke or who heard it from their side, either way.
Q: And do people abuse their power?
A: Sure. Definitely.
Q: Do you have an example?
A: Well, politicians are a pure example of the abuse of power.
Q: How much do they actually try to contribute to improving the situation and accepting multi-ethnic society, or do you think they’re doing nothing?
A: They are doing something, but not enough.
Q: What would you change?
A: A lot of things. I don’t know. A lot.
Q: Will you give me an example?
A: Concerning politics?
Q: If you were a politician, what would you change?
A: God forbid I’m a politician. That became so slimy right now that they… no matter how good of a man you are, when you enter politics that whole system will corrupt you.
Q: You think that’s true?
A: One hundred per cent.
Q: You believe that system would corrupt you too?
A: I would never become a part of that system for that reason exactly.
Q: Tell me, how does it feel to feel ‘at home’?
A: Well, to feel at home.
Q: What does that mean? Can we feel that only in our homes or…?
A: Well, no, you can actually feel that in which ever setting where you feel good with people, where the atmosphere is good and where you are… What we said in the beginning.
Q: Do you think that only other people can create a good atmosphere for you or can you do that yourself?
A: Well, of course I can do it myself. Only boring people are bored.
Q: How do you kill the boredom?
A: Well, it depends. I have exams right now, so I’m killing myself with exams. But, in general, training, books, I like video games too, friends, traveling, nature, all kinds of things…
Q: You mentioned traveling. Do you think it helps a lot if people travel and truly see that there are other cultures, different people?
A: Of course. It opens new horizons and…
Q: Did it help you?
A: Yes, of course. I saw some new people, met them, destroyed some of the stereotypes they had. It’s definitely beneficial.
Q: How open-minded people truly are here in Temerin?
A: Well, I think they’re pretty open-minded. Now, I didn’t have a chance to talk to each of them personally, right?
Q: Of course.
A: But at least the people I know, they are.
Q: They are?
Q: Tell me, how do you stand with going out here in Temerin?
A: It depends. For me, as someone who is more oriented towards rock ‘n’ roll and harder sound, there are not a lot of places to go. There is maybe one rock café where I can go once in a while, but… I would change that if I could. It is mostly limited to people who listen to this mainstream music and turbo folk or whatnot, so we are pushed in the back a bit. But it’s changing. I can see progress recently. Rock culture is awaking and I’m glad to hear that, to see that.
Q: That’s nice. And, tell me, are there any places with Hungarian music?
A: I really don’t know. I think there are, but they mix it with English and even rock music. Those concerts and gigs actually gather both Hungarians and Serbs in Temerin the most, because they rarely listen to turbo folk. So, those rock cultures are actually connectors, let’s say, of people who like different kinds of music.
Q: How much do music genres create groups?
A: Well, again, every music genre has its own groups. Someone is like folker, metalhead, rocker. ‘Aaaaa, that greasy metalhead, Metallica’, whatever they call them, irrelevant. It creates some kind of division, but I think it’s not an important division at all. I don’t think it matters. All people are OK to me.
Q: You said that you don’t know if there is a place with Hungarian music. And is there a place that plays both Serbian and Hungarian music?
A: Yes. There is.
Q: And how do the people get along there?
A: Well, the same. They both come. Completely normal. There are no fights or whatever. Completely normal atmosphere.
Q: When you were talking about what makes you happy, you said you’re into training. What do you train?
A: I’m into karate.
Q: For safety?
A: No, no. Simply… I started by chance actually. When I was nine, my neighbour was training and he was like ‘Come to check it out, come to check it out’. And I said OK. And so I went and I liked it very much when I saw it. At the next training I already started training and since then it developed into a sort of love. I don’t want to stop training as long as I can train. My sensei says that all karate masters die young, in their 90’s.
Q: And have you ever used on someone what you’ve learned there?
A: Unfortunately, I had once an opportunity in the centre of Temerin, but it wasn’t between Hungarians and Serbs, but between ours. Anyway, there was a fight; some friends started it and most people scattered. There was just three of us left against eight of them, but we turned out OK and won since these friends were into aikido as I was in karate, and we pulled out something fast and ran. That was the only time that I had such a direct contact. And, thank God, I had no other chance. I don’t approve of violence and I don’t like violence, although I’m into martial art. If I find myself in bad situation, a conflict, I always try to fix it with words, by calming down the atmosphere and tension. If that’s not possible, then self-defence is the only key that’s left.