Emphasizing the fact that the religion1F is the actual phenomenon which represents the collective spirit, and having in mind that this phenomenon is also quite important for shaping and comprehending each individual or national identity, with this paper – we would like to show how the problem of the religion syndrome2F in the Balkans influences the individual and even national mentality, its identification with the national origins up to its numerous deviations as a result, through many examples from the Balkan literature in the XX century…
This context comes from the domination of the western civilization upon the Balkans with its relaxed, even quasi-belief in God, practicing – mainly – the traditional church rituals. Their understanding depends on the idea that the life is a kind of a struggle. Accordingly to that, the weaponry appears as an instrument for life’s maintenance and preservation. With such logic of overcoming the obstacles with violence, the freedom comes to a form of an absurd. In such kind of a context, the human virtues, empathy and the correct treatment of the Other and everything that is foundation of the religious understanding – is lost.
Because of the specific development, the Balkan is especially compatible for the implementation of the western logic and increasing of the religious conflicts. At the Balkans, the main contemporary religion groups have their origins in the Middle Ages, which mean that they traditionally bear the characteristic of the society in which they were originally established. These characteristics are xenophobia, centralized hierarchy, permanent manifestation of latent conflicts and external tension within different social forces. The face of Evil, or the Devil – the enemy, at first, concerns the heretics, unbelievers; afterwards, it spreads onto the social order and society in general. That structure has been valid during the five-century-long presence of the (Muslim) Ottoman Empire at the Balkans and later it has been replaced with the idea of the religiously orientated (Christianity) nation. The change from the religious beliefs epoch to the national states epoch on the Balkans happened in the second half of XIX century. The national and linguistic links – then – have become the new identity signifiers. Under the influence of the strong social process and external influences of the large Christian community at the Balkans, the region divides to numerous and separate national communities. Religion was put aside as a secondary in the processes of shaping the new national identities. Christians in the Balkan, as Maria Todorova3F has concluded in her book Imagining the Balkans, started to understand each other with the language of nationalism, while their notion of the Muslims remains at the domain of the non-differentiated discourse between the religious communities. That makes the problem even more difficult, because the religious communities (with their “ghettoization”) remain to be a potential threat for bigger conflicts at the Balkan. This situation endures up to the moment when the antagonistic interactions between the social and religious groups (with conflicting interests upon the same territories, the same privileges in the society, etc.) will stop. All this is happening at the Balkans, even at this moment.
Nobody has given better explication and analysis of the relationships between the religious communities in the Balkan, such as Ivo Andrić. On the relations of the historical facts he anticipated the religious conflicts in these areas with all of their horror. Andrić founds the base of all Balkan tragedies in the endemic hate and the forces of fear that exist in the region. “The fear stands only as a correlative for the hate and it is its natural echo, while the hate is only what’s essential”. Andrić is worried upon the fact that there are more people in the Balkan then anywhere else who, in unconscious state, for different reasons and excuses are able to kill and able to let to be killed. Today (as well as before in the XX century), this context is being used by the western politicians in accordance with their own interests at the Balkan and wider.
1. The term “religion” comes from the Latin language verb religare that means linking/gathering/connecting. It is the spiritual link between God and man. The basic of every religion is the faith in God. The other main characteristics are: the dogma, the cult and the morality. See: Macedonian Theology Terminology, MANU, Skopje, 1999, p.93.
2. The term faith in the Old Testament refers to the term/idea of Hope (to confirm and prove one’s submission to God). In the New Testament, the term faith refers exclusively to the Christian believing in God. See: New Concise Bible Dictionary, editor D. Williams, Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, 1989, p.93.
3. Todorova, Maria, Imagining the Balkans, Magor, Skopje, 2001, p.261