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Our Roles in Life
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It’s the great in life question: why are we here?  What are we supposed to be doing?  What is our role in life?  These are question worth answering.  However, I do not intend to explore existential issues in this column (at least not today), so let me limit this to what I see as one of my roles in life.

I have been involved in Macedonia for going on 17 years in one way or another; seven years of living and working in Macedonia, another seven of traveling back and forth between my home in Arizona, and Washington, DC and Macedonia (plus a few other countries in Eastern Europe) and now three years of being based, more or less, full time in Arizona but still involved in Macedonia in many ways.

One of my roles in life is that of an encourager.  We all need to be encouraged at some point or another in our lives and it’s a great thing to be encouraged by someone. For Macedonia, it seems as though for too long, neighbors – practicing “good neighborly relations,” perhaps? – have told you that you do not exist, that your whole history is false, that you do not speak Macedonian and that there is no Macedonian church.  When someone consistently tells you these things, it can discourage you.

German writer and artist Johann Goethe wrote “Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.” And Winston Churchill wrote “If you are going through hell, keep going.” It’s actually been an encouragement to me to encourage others.  I enjoy it…and I know it is the right thing to do.

Another role of mine is that of attempting to keep the “good guys” honest.  What I mean by the good guys is America, Macedonia, NATO….in general the political and economic West.  That is why I continually speak up and write about injustices put upon Macedonia by others.  I want to constantly challenge those elected and unelected officials in parts of the West – America, NATO and other NATO countries – to do what is right, especially when it comes to Macedonia and the injustices put upon Macedonia by Greece (and now, apparently, Bulgaria).  By using my pen (or, to be correct, my computer keyboard), my goal is to poke at the soft underbelly of the West when it needs poking, holding them up to the higher standard of the truth and speaking boldly about the need to do what is right.

I do know for a fact that the US Embassy and others read what I write.  I think they are required to.  I can only hope that what I write actually gets into their heads and into their souls and that it has a positive impact.  Frankly, I hope they go to bed at night thinking about these things and if their conscience bothers them when they are confronted by a wrong forced on Macedonia but neglected by the West, I hope it keeps them up at night.  They know what is right and moral.  I would like to see them act like it.

One of the sad things about international affairs that is often said is that “the moral argument is often the weakest argument.” But the problem here is that if you survey the world scene, you see mayhem and war and terror and financial chaos and hunger and so many other bad things abounding precisely because there is no moral compass in international affairs.  I posit that if there were, there would be fewer problems. Think about that.

Specifically what I am looking for with respect to Macedonia, the name issue and Macedonia’s inability to get into NATO and the EU, is men or women of stature with a steal backbone to stand up and say loudly and publicly “Greece is wrong.” They know this to be true.  They privately admit it.  So why can’t they say it publicly?

I also want international institutions, such as NATO, to simply accept Macedonia as a member.  I understand that this means that NATO must break, must flout its own rules.  But it has flouted its own rules before.  There is precedent.  NATO flouted its own rules in Bosnia-Herzegovnia in 1995 when it struck at Serb positions.  NATO flouted its own rules in Kosovo when it bombed a country that never declared war on any NATO member.

And NATO justified its breaking of its own rules. So don’t tell me it can’t flout its own rules again by admitting Macedonia and recognizing Macedonia by its constitutional name. Will this cause problems within the diplomatic community?  Yes.  Will this cause problems within NATO?  Yes.  Will it make Greece (and France) angry?  Yes.  But is it the right thing to do? Hell yes. 

If NATO cannot do this, it could easily be interpreted by some that NATO believes that Macedonia and her citizens are worth less than other countries.  Is that true?  I don’t know.  Actions speak infinitely louder than words.

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Jason Miko
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