If you could change one thing in Kosovo, what would it be? This question sounds simple, but it has a long answer. Before choosing what needs to be changed in my country, I think first about what and who makes up my country.
It’s the people and I’m one of them.
I think that there is a need for a real change in people’s mentality. We need to be able to identify and accept our limitations, while still recognizing the great potential we possess to bring about change and improvement for Kosovo.
In my opinion, the biggest problem and threat we face in Kosovo is that we haven’t been able to analyze and understand how our structures –– school institutions, families, media –– have created a culture of conformity.
We have the feeling that we belong to a bigger group and this gives us a sense of security. But this sense of security can negatively affect us because we may end up trying to adapt to the norms, trying to model our behavior according to others’ expectations and suppress our own opinions and emotions just to fit in with others.
What makes a country?
The above-mentioned structures influence our norms and reality, a reality where imagination, original thought, critical thinking and sensitivity are not cultivated or promoted. Instead of exploring, we learn by heart. Instead of questioning, we judge. Instead of challenging existing frameworks, we inherit them.
When we submit to this reality it forces us to not rock the boat, it limits the ways we can act and how we shape our society.
Aristotle said that nations are not built with mountains and trees, but rather by the character of their citizens.
In other words, natural resources such as coal, oil, rivers and soil do not make a nation –– nations are built by the mentality of their inhabitants, by our behaviors and attitudes. Mentalities affect employee productivity, work habits, relationships to technology and the market and other social spheres.
Mindsets influence our views of the world, how we respond to injustices around us and how we work against them. Consequently, it is not enough to focus on numbers about economic development or on narrow analysis that excludes context and does not take into account psychological, social and cultural factors within society. These factors are essential to development, especially economic development.
The development of a country cannot be measured in numbers. The real change is the qualitative one –– when behaviors change.
Therefore, it is necessary to turn our attention to mindsets. At the heart of the mentality lies the education system that continues to encourage uniformity instead of diversity, rigidity instead of flexibility, conformity instead of new questions and knowledge. It reproduces old behaviors instead of empowering us to challenge these behaviors.
Efforts for change must be joined by the media, which must reimagine itself, remain critical and motivate us to be critical. Societies capable of seeking accountability, responsibility, and change are created in this way, societies that are always in search of the new and that challenge the conformity that hinders our common development.
Feature Image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.