The American psychologist Daniel L. Schacter says in his book, “How the Mind Forgets and Remembers,” that “one of the most basic functions of many types of memory is that it helps us prepare for the future.” Even if societies do not experience the same events at the same time, the collective memory they have created for generations is transferred.
In terms of not forgetting the past while building today, this very collective memory is significant. In other words, it both helps to build today and offers the opportunity to face the past. What is important here is not to have an event at the same time, to share the past information and create a common image about our past.
It can be said that for societies and communities, rather than living together, remembering together is the essence of presence. Remembering together is performed by various methods such as the commemoration ceremonies in particular. During religious days, holidays or special days, there are some rituals belonging to communities. The key code in transferring something to the next generation through collective memory is “to remember.” Physical practices in memorials, for example, can be defined as what leads to the revitalization of the past. With rituals in ceremonies, the act of remembering is fulfilled and the collective memory, therefore, remains alive. In a contrary scenario, where the rituals or ceremonies are abandoned or the past is totally forgotten, building today or the future would be almost impossible to achieve. Likewise, Alija Izetbegovic, the late legendary Bosnia-Herzegovina leader, said, “don’t forget the genocide, whatever you do. Because the forgotten genocide is repeated.”
Genocide in Europe
Some 25 years ago, at the heart of Europe, a horrible genocide took place. The Srebrenica genocide, the greatest humanity massacre in Europe after World War II, occurred in the last 10 years of the 20th century. A brutal, inhumane and fearful moment for not the Bosnian people but the rest of the whole world...
The bodies are still removed from mass graveyards, showing us the brutality experience, again and again, every year. This inhumane memory is conveyed to future generations by remembering the incident with the memorials and peace marches held every year.
At this point, the media also has a number of duties, as it is powerful enough to remind the past and help shape the future in a better way. The horrible moments 25 years ago must stay in memories of the next generations, in order not to experience such a tragedy again.
If one day your path falls in Bosnia and Herzegovina, don’t forget the significance of the lettering on the walls. I want to conclude with the words of Alija Izetbegovic, “Nobody should pursue revenge, only seek justice. Because it opens the door of evil without end of revenge. Remember the past but don’t live with it either.”
*DS staff member, master’s degree from Communications Department at Marmara University
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