Reno News and Review

Thurs., April 22, 1999

Stop The Ethnic Slaughter

© Carol Cizauskas

Are we not our brothers' keepers? Do we see the horrible images and frightening stories of Kosovo and turn away? Is it not our responsibility to see the faces, the bodies, the people of Albania and recognize ourselves in them?

Almost twenty years ago, while in Austria I saw a graphic documentary about Holocaust atrocities. German-speaking countries showed this annually as part of a campaign to ensure the end of genocidal actions in Europe. Its title: "It must never happen again". All of us, not only the Germans and Austrians, know it must never happen again. And yet it is. What do we do about it?

Certainly not turn away. I applaud the UNR students who gathered recently to discuss the terror in Kosovo. And yet, I as an adult working in the Truckee Meadows, I as an American, do not hear the conversations which must occur if we are to change anything. We must care. We must not turn away. We must not isolate ourselves and believe as long as the United States is more than an ocean away, we are safe.

It's not just our own backyards we must tend. As human beings, we are connected to every other person on this planet. The tortured face of the ethnic Albanian you see on the evening news, the raped Kosovar you read about on the Internet, the people being starved and mutilated, the children and old women being killed, the trainloads of screaming souls being shipped back into Kosovo - these people, so far away, are you and I.

Speaking with my parents about their knowledge of the Holocaust, which occurred during their young adult years, I heard them emphasize repeatedly that during the war, Americans did not know the terrors of the Hitlerian hell. What do we now know about Milosevic's genocide? Maybe more than we want to know, but we must care enough to embrace that knowledge and to become involved, if only to talk about it. If we don't, we have not learned what our European brothers and sisters taught us. During World War II, while living next-door to so many concentration camps, they did not recognize the smell of burning human flesh.

I do not naively claim easy answers. Ironically, although a pacifist, I can see good reason to assist NATO with the military aid we are supplying. What I understand clearly is the evil must be stopped. We cannot just stand by and watch it happening - or worse yet, ignore it happening. More than anything, I understand that concerned dialogue, true caring, and prayer will lead us closer to truly saving our Kosovar families.

Remember, "it must never happen again". And yet, it is happening to us.