Vučković: It’s time to set ourselves free from our lack of freedom, that’s the only cure

„To quote my friend, there is only one truth. And freedom is everything” – in an interview for KoSSev, a chronicler of village life and town culture, journalist Ivan Vučković from Leposavić, talked about culture, the media, the village, and how the people became estranged, divided , and weakened.

„Day to Day Life“

„I can no longer recognize the people I live with. „Total apathy has overtaken our society,“ says KoSSev’s interlocutor.

He remarked that people’s mentality has changed, and people have altered their habits. There is a lack of motivation and the desire to progress, the desire to take anything into their own hands is non-existent, he stated.

Day-to-day life – the best description of the situation in Leposavić

Vučković pointed to the problem of the departure of young people for the past two years, warning that it will only increase in the years to come – as young people leave and older generations remain. The question opens – is there fertile ground for the return of young people?

As a community, how much did we participate in our own deterioration?

There is a lack of companionship, mutual help and care for each other in the community, fair fights and the absence of rapaciousness, he stressed.

As a result, in some families, all family members have government jobs, while in other families, no one is employed. There are thousands of fictitious jobs, says Vučković, noting that it is important to take a look at one’s own „cupidity“.

Comparing the current state of things with the past, when quality was demanded, and people performed tasks for which they were properly trained, Vučković adds:

„We can’t all do everything like we are doing today. We have reached the stage where everyone can do everything, quantity is important, not quality; it is important who you are and who you support, not whether you are rational and creative. All the norms of a healthy society have been disrupted, and I rightly say that I don’t recognize those people anymore.“

The illusion of life

Villages are disappearing, he warns. Leposavić is one of the largest municipalities in Kosovo, with ideal conditions for agriculture.

„The villages are deserted with three or four students because ten went to Leposavić. We have villages situated a few kilometers from Leposavić that have all the conditions, but I know people who moved because the city always attracted them, even if they lived on asphalt and lived harder lives. We don’t want to take matters into our own hands anymore,“ says Vučković.

„Along the Ibar River, all the villages have fertile small plains, the potential for animal husbandry, for making essential oils from wild vegetation, and plants. However, the whole climate influenced the fact that if you go down to the city, things will be better for you, you will receive 300 euros, and you will barely make do. You will do a little gardening on the side, but you will be a nobleman and on the list. And in fact, there is nothing from that nobleness, nor is that list nailed to a bulletin board that no one will remove. We see what kind of things are happening. I am only afraid of one thing, that this illusion we live in, that this tower of cards can be brought down by just one card. And we saw in the last year or two that a single card that was drawn brought down the whole tower.“

Only the most persistent and organized remain in the countryside.

„They still do work today, with the same enthusiasm, but with less power. The plantations are smaller,“ says Vučković, adding:

„I have a friend, Kuzmanović, from the village of Postanje, who used to plant watermelons on two to three hectares and was famous in this area for it. His health has deteriorated, and he has already reduced the amount of work he does. He has a greenhouse. Agriculture can only succeed if it has continuity and is passed down from one generation to another.”

The lack of a market, which is non-existent for the Serbs in Kosovo, particularly affects the shutdown of agriculture.

Vučković admits that it would be difficult for all farmers to endure, even the larger ones who have the means to either store their products or to produce a product whose quality increases over time, such is the case with wine. In the last ten years, viticulture in Leposavić has developed and now they are also facing big problems.

Takeover of culture

In his words, there are also visible problems in cultural life, in which young people seldom participate.

Vučković, who has been working in the municipal cultural center „Sava Dečanac“ for decades, recalled the golden years at the end of the last decade, in which there was an expansion of cultural events in Leposavić, which “burst with youth, creativity and healthy energy.” But that time has also passed.

We have come to a situation where our culture is now led by pensioners

„They can also be academics, let’s put laurels on their heads for all their merits, no one disputes anything and everyone should have their share of the merits, but young people are nowhere to be found in this. Today, we observe culture from a 25-year-old perspective – that culture is a night of fiddler playing, a theater performance. Where is the avant-garde, some innovation in terms of culture?“

He advocates for innovation in cultural expression, cultural excursions, freeing up space and mobilizing young people, bringing diversity together. In other words:

„Give everyone what they want to take, not impose on them what we have.“

He points out that culture would alleviate the pain we feel.

„Culture is universal. It unites the incompatible, those who are for and those who are against; who have higher and lower education. Culture is a universal model when we want to get out of every problem“.

„There is only one truth“

Divisions and the absence of culture, freedom and truth are also visible in the media.

„The daily news swallowed up the journalist,“ says Vučković.

„From one task to another, from waiting for something to waiting for something else, from one news to another, from one exclusive to another. And on the other hand, we forgot the beautiful forms where we dealt with life stories“.

Our interlocutor combined his love for nature and the search for freedom with his journalistic work, so for years he has been a chronicler of village life and culture in the city.

„My mission has been to put an ordinary person on the screen ever since I realized it. That ordinary man carries an emotion. So I had the opportunity to record someone who rejoiced and someone who cried; someone who lived in poverty, someone who had 10 children , and someone who barely managed to have one; both the hard-working farmer and someone who has no land. I captured that emotion.“

In contrast to this kind of work, he notices a split in the media community itself – into dependent and independent media outlets, those who are allowed to do something and those who are not.

„We are now divided as people, so we don’t socialize because they’re on another side, or they don’t hang out with us because we’re on another side, whichever side it is. I stopped meeting with many of my colleagues, not because we wanted to, but because our paths don’t cross.“

„We need not have journalists who are allowed or not allowed to say something. As one of my friends, Rafailo Ralović, says, there is only one truth. If we always stick to it, if we do it virtuously and honestly, it will yield results. However, with self-censorship, while pondering what someone will say, we are already approaching the story in an unhealthy way, and of course such a story cannot have power“ – he stressed.

The cure

This story about culture, media and nature began and ended with a message about freedom. People strive for a better life, but they have limited their freedoms, and without freedom, there is no better life, assesses KoSSev’s interlocutor.

„If we stop living in our lack of freedoms, there is some kind of medicine for us, otherwise, this tissue is too infected to be healed in an hour,“ Ivan Vučković concluded, adding:

„Young people must not be burdened by the lack of freedom of their parents, to be free themselves.“

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