My parents tell me the same thing. "Don't take revenge. Don't stoop to their level." But never in my life has an experience justifiably sparked an all-consuming, searing desire to fiercely and mercilessly avenge myself. Savo Heleta has experienced such horror to warrant that vengeance.
And he chooses his future over violently avenging his past. He listens to his father, the head of a remarkable family, and, by emerging a man of rare quality, proves to his readers that behaving hypocritically, acting monstrously and barbarously as his oppressors acted, would have been far more detrimental to him than to his potential victims.
In this war-torn tale of destruction and fear, akin to those of Ann Frank and Elie Wiesel, Heleta tells us of neighbors and friends who morphed into bitter enemies because a political system decided that segregation and ethnic cleansing would enrich their lives. Before the political upheaval, Bosnian citizens of Serbian, Muslim and Croatian descent generally coexisted peacefully and perhaps even blissfully; the envy of America. Perhaps the over-used cliche, "Birds of feather flock together", should be rescinded from public consciousness, because when the cliche was imposed, all hell broke loose. War. Death. Destruction. Horror. Fear.
The truly majestic strength of Savo's book put me to shame. Even in a life relatively painless, I, like so many others, search for the evil and blind myself to the good. Heleta's narrative, though horrific and more tense than Hollywood historical fiction dramas, counters savage terror with humanitarian altruism and God's interference. These simple affections and the "timely luck" inspire those who suffer to see God while those who have comparatively little reason to complain curse Him for the evils in their lives.
To paraphrase Heleta, the divide between ethnic groups are illusions. There are good, bad and indifferent people. I cherish his perspective and I am inspired by it. Perhaps we can learn a little more about how we treat these people from reading this book; the tale of a man whose integrity and character exemplifies the best in humanity.