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The Ideals of Our Ancestors: Humanity and Heroism

January 1, 2017
Tamara Miličić Grbić
San Issue 7 - Winter 2017

2017, the new year is approaching. Many people are planning New Year’s resolutions which will change their bad habits, and lead to a healthier and happier life. Here is a poem which gives advice on how to attain this goal: If You Wish to Be Followed by Happiness Dobrica Erić


If you wish to be followed by happiness,

Seek, more often, the company of trees.

When you lose your persistence and your will,

Encounter the sun, on a field or hill.

If you wish to improve the pallor of your complexion,

Wash your face with the glistening dew of the petals.

 If you wish your voice to be better heard,

Just borrow a voice from a cricket, or bird.

If you wish to live to a ripe old age,

Take heed of the murmur that the rivers all make.

When held by the burden of sorrow are you,

Just pass through the arc of a rainbow or two.

Both wiser and younger, you will see

How all the sweeter your life can be.


The Ideals of Our Ancestors: Humanity and Heroism

            Heroism was often used to save one’s own life in the ancient Balkans. Back then, people needed to have a great deal of courage and heroism in order to defend themselves, sustain themselves, and survive. Although much of their lives were spent in war, our ancestors invested great importance in moral principles and spiritual values.

            Aside from bravery, a true hero had to be blessed with kindness and humaneness – with humanity. Heroism is the capacity to defend oneself from another and their potential wickedness. Humanity is the capacity to defend another from oneself and one’s on inner wickedness.

            Honor is considered the most important individual and collective quality. Honored is whoever has character and kind principles that they truly enforce, regardless of the situation. Honored is whoever is kind, dependable, consistent, and of knightly behaviour. They have a sense of their moral obligations and carry them out, even in difficult situations where they would not be the most practical solution.

            Honor is a virtue which allows us to overcome our inner impulses, such as laziness, lying, and trickery. With this virtue we can attain inner peace, and without honour we are at risk of doing things which we would later be ashamed of.

             When an individual is honorable, others believe that they will do the right thing. Their honorable word is a promise that they will do exactly as they say, and so, people trust them. People respect, wonder, and look up to a person who is honorable, a person who holds true to themselves and to their word. That is why our language has so many expressions related to the word honor (čast):

Honorable (Častan): Valued, reputable, respected, renowned

“It is an honor to present…” (“Čast mi je predstaviti...”): This expression is often used when     introducing someone to an audience.

“It is dishonorable…” (“Ispod časti mi je...”; lit. it is beneath my honor): My honor does not    permit me to do such a thing.

“It is an honor!” (“Služi nam na čast!”; lit. it serves our honor): We can be proud of such a      thing!

“Good job!” (“Svaka ti čast!”; lit. may you have all of the honor): You did something well, I   am giving you recognition!

 “It would be an honor…” (“Učinićete mi čast...”): I would be very happy if you would let me do this for you.

“He besmirched himself…” (“Ocrneo je obraz...”; lit. he blackened his cheek): When   someone has done something dishonorable.


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