PIIP 3: Escaping Socialist Yugoslavia, Our Story

In this episode of PIIP Original, we tell our civil war story and explain how over time these and other similar events shaped our political views.

Yugoslavia was formed after the first world war. This was done largely because many had a vision to unite the southern slavs but to also protect each other from future onslaught. The major ethnic groups that were part of Yugoslavia were Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Bosnian muslims.


We lived in a small northern village of Bosnia near the Croatian border. Tensions were starting well before any soldiers came to our village. On the radio and television many payed attention to what was already happening around some parts of Bosnia and knew previously what had happened in places like Croatia.

Our father decided it was time to get some protection and so many in the village decided to do the same. They also agreed to do community watches especially during night time and so father was gone for many nights. After awhile, we don’t know why but this community watch suddenly stopped and people just went on doing their thing as if nothing was going to happen. Perhaps they knew it could get worse and had no way of fighting back. Yugoslavia was one of the stronger armies in Europe and Serbs had gotten control of it on top of having local Serb military groups.


In the summer of 1992 as we were cutting wood outside our home, we noticed a soldier approaching our home. Our father went up to him and few words were exchanged. He then told us that we had to head towards the school which was only a short walk away.

Once we arrived at the school, husbands and wives were separated. Young children(those under 16-17) were with women, those abled men were put on trucks. We stayed inside the school for what seemed 30-40 minutes before we were told to go home. As we headed out, the last trucks with our men on them, were leaving. We didn’t know as children what exactly was happening. We knew it wasn’t good but how bad it was going to get for some, we had no idea.


As we headed back home, we can to total destruction inside the home. It was all looted, things broken, etc. We were not able to stay there as it was just not safe so many families decided to bond together inside one of the homes’ basements.

It seemed as if weeks were passing by and we only heard small news of the goings of our civil war.  Finally one day we were told that buses would be coming to take us to a safe place. We of course did not know if we can trust anyone as these were the same folks who destroyed our homes and took our men to concentration camps.


The buses, or more like one bus, did arrive but we were still cautious and unsure what was coming. So much panic while folks tried to get on the bus. People were stripped off their valuables and our grandmother almost didn’t make it as the bus was getting too crowded. We managed to get our grandmother on finally and the journey towards an unknown destination began. As we arrived on top of the mountain overlooking this city that our people lived in, stealing of valuables and panic ensued once again. Fire from higher up(we learned snipers were up there) and it caused everyone to start running.


I took Ermin’s hand and just ran for as long as i could. Once in awhile i looked back to see if mom and grandma were ok but at some point we lost them as they were way slower. We ran what seemed for many miles and arrived to the bottom of the mountain when it got dark. Sitting down, waiting for grandma and mom to arrive we wondered if they would but eventually it did happen. Those who greeted us when we arrived eventually gave us a place to stay. It was in a gymnasium where many of these refugees fleeing our civil war were given shelter.

We stayed there for a short time before heading to Croatia where our aunt lived. They took us in and took good care of us for what seemed like 6 months to a year before our father finally came as he was released from the Manjaca camp. In the camp he told us that many including him experienced frequent beatings. Many of our own people lied to protect themselves so he would get beaten instead. He was always strong so perhaps he knew some of those folks wouldn’t even be able to stay alive. He never really complained about them doing that.


Before we came to Canada, our father was asked where he would like to go and start his new life. He said “farthest place from here”. He had enough of everything he saw. Our civil war was especially messy for him. He wanted to go as far away as possible. Even when people mention our old home, he doesn’t feel like talking about it. Not seeing his few family members in Europe has been extremely difficult.  He knows that he’ll never go back there again.

When we came to Canada he could have easily got on disability due to  mental trauma and frequent pain from repeated blows he received. He never asked for anything except small help to start his new life. It’s 25+ years later and he’s still experiencing same side effects on most days and yet still battles like a champion. To us this shows true human spirit and ability to take on significant burden. It’s partly why our views over the years have changed. This is talking about not just our political views but also on human suffering. To be clear, this isn’t to say that if a person is suffering greatly they shouldn’t seek other help. It’s more about trying your best to rise above challenges first.


At the beginning of our life in Canada and for many years after, we became leftists as we got used to all the comforts in Canada and mostly believed what mainstream media and our school system would tell us. Over time though, we learned that as you age and take in more information, test certain idea, life is way more complex and certain amount of structure is needed to live a meaningful, more sane, life. This is especially true today as young people are devoid of meaning and seek it at every turn sometimes not even caring whether those things they seek are truly meaningful or just there to turn their lives into a bigger hell.

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PIIP 2:How Different Visions of Human Nature Result in Political Rivalries

Constrained vs Unconstrained

In this episode of PIIP Original, we discuss how different visions, constrained vs unconstrained  create far different solutions to certain societal problems. We talk about Thomas Sowell’s book A Conflict Of Visions . The book explains the ideas of constrained and unconstrained visions and how they create political rivalries.


Unconstrained vision assumes that we are a blank slate and as we get older it’s the systems that corrupt us and keep us from becoming our best. This vision is more prevalent in people who are progressive but some liberals as well. People who believe in this idea also believe that not every person can be corrupted by the system as there are those who are more moral than others. They believe that if more moral types were put in power they would be able to fix all the problems.


Constrained vision says that human beings are limited in all kinds of ways. The systems cannot do very much to fix this. You can have low iq, live in poverty, have certain health defects, battle chronic mental and/or physical conditions, have addictive personality and so on. Constrained vision is more in line with nature and believes that even though human beings are limited in many ways, we can also rise above and become the best we can be by battling through obstacles. Due to the fact people differ in all kinds of ways, systems usually do not do a good job in fixing people’s problems.


We give one example of this battle of constrained vs unconstrained visions during an episode of Joe Rogan podcast. Comedian Kevin Hart spoke on the show. He talked about his life and how things were going so well.  Mentioned that life is like a video game and he takes it as a way to challenge himself. Every time you make certain choices you makes sure to give your best effort. Often enough you can see the benefits. Kyle Kulinski did not enjoy this side of Hart as it was not very relatable. He said that he has issues sometimes doing the most basics like going to the store. He couldn’t understand how it was so easy for some people to accomplish these things.


What we are getting at with the above is that it seems Kulinski is saying that he believes people are limited. Life is quite difficult. It’s difficult to analyze this side of Kalinski because on one hand he is essentially admitting that people are constrained. On the other hand he also believes he can fix extremely complex systems(like in politics). Perhaps Kyle believes in the whole limitation of the human being and wants to change the entire system. Perhaps it’s to benefit everyone(free college, healthcare, etc)? That is one possibility. The other is that he believes he is more moral than others.  If we changed the corrupt systems that’s when we would see real potential of human beings.


It’s also possible that some folks believe that self interest and morality are the same thing. Evolutionarily though human beings have always been more about propelling their genes forward and mostly worrying about their own interests. Self interest does not make someone immoral and much of the research shows that conservatives for example do much more charity work when compared to progressive types.


When someone is an expert in any area, sometimes they tend to obsess with certain ideas and details to a point where bigger picture is entirely missed. The whole ‘can’t see forest for the trees’ becomes apparent. This seems to be the case here as every problem has a very clear solution so all we need to do is change the system currently in place. This completely disregards the fact that conservative ideas for example have been tested over time and for most part, they work.


Thomas Sowell mentioned how certain folks love to theorize what works and what doesn’t.  Because they are experts in one particular field, they also believe they can make drastic changes for the good, in another field as well. Wise people would say that the more you go down the rabbit hole the less you know as more noise is introduced.  You end up having more questions than answers. With some people they become too sure of their ideas to a point that they want to throw away battle tested ideas of the past.

In the end, we talk about the fact that government programs can incentivize more personal freedom, less about family, but at a greater cost. People end up being more stressed and unhappy when they are without families, part of groups, etc. Studies show that those who are part of a religious group for example are much happier. Those who have families in comparison to single folks tend to also have more satisfying lives. When you rely on some abstract thing(the government) you have no real connection, it becomes easier to live without responsibility, but it also comes at a great cost of not having meaning and joy in life.

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PIIP 1: How Social Media Impacts Your Mental Health


In this PIIP Original, we talk about mental health and how social media can have an impact on our lives. We discuss particularly difficult challenges that we’ve had to face but also some of the ways of managing those challenges.

If you are someone who constantly compares your life to other people, to a point of deep stress and anxiety, you are not alone. With the rise in social media usage over the past 5 years or so, most of us cannot escape this. Everywhere you look there is someone posting pictures of their brand new house, their nice car, new member of the family and so on. Then, the likes and conversations start.


You might ask, so what is wrong with that? In most cases, nothing. Only when a person is trying too hard and making it seem like he/she has a great life and are putting on a show, does it become a problem. What happens in all other cases is that we simply don’t understand one simple fact. You get a little glimpse of someone’s life through video or images. If someone just finished a PhD let’s say and posted about it, you didn’t notice the hard work ethic that went into it, you only received the news of the accomplishment. This is extremely important to note because it shows you that most people only post those things they had to work hard to attain and you pretty much never see the entire process of how they got there.

Social Media And Mental Health


Second thing to note is that you should never compare your own life to other people’s anyway. Why? Because as Jordan Peterson would tell you, it is simply not a good idea. In his book 14 Rules For Life: Antidote To Chaos, one of the rules is “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today”. Basically, make sure that you make your life a bit better each and every day. With time you will see that you are making progress in your own life. This way you will find that you are accomplishing more. You will get some satisfaction from it and won’t have to focus on what others have.

One of the biggest issues with internet and social media today and why it can impact our mental health is due to the fact we are constantly interacting with people who are far removed from us. Often enough it’s not someone we really know and it may be a person who lives in a totally different country.

The reason it’s important to mention this is for the fact we aren’t used to dealing and communicating with people this way. In old days before the internet, you lived around other people and any communication was usually done in person. This way you can help each other very easily. It was also much more confined.  You didn’t know so many people from all over the world. Today you are constantly bombarded with information flow from folks who are nowhere near you.  Why do we need to care?


Having a more balanced, organized approach to life and not focusing so much on what others are doing can really help.. If for example you are into checking twitter, facebook and so on, you might find it helpful to use some of those apps that keep you in check when you go overboard. Once you get used to being away from a social media platform and find something more productive to do, it gets easier to stick with the routine. This will bring way less stress to your life.


The other thing we have to keep in mind is that there is a certain level of desentisizing we need when it comes to our life . This includes our reaction to what is posted on social media. If every single comment is triggering you in some way and you need to find a safe space, perhaps it’s time to find something that can help you with this issue. For example, another thing that works quite well for certain mental health issues is behavioural therapy. It allows you to face almost any fear you might have. If you decide to voluntarily face those fears(it won’t work otherwise), you will notice that you no longer feel so sensitive. This doesn’t mean that you are no longer afraid. It means that you now have more courage to face those things you previously couldn’t.


How people deal with social media and mental health issues also differs from each person. We talked about nihilism in one of our other episodes.  Certain figures like Jordan Peterson have helped many folks and some were at a point of no return.  On average women tend to have a approach where letting things out and talking about issues can help them. With men it’s a bit different as they keep it bottled up inside. They are very much afraid that others might figure out their issues. For many men talking about it makes it worse especially if they cannot figure out the solution. With women, they generally feel better by conversation alone.

At the end we talk about the fact some things in life come to you, even if you never asked for them. By this, we’re talking about politics and how it can also impact your life. You become involved and start having political discussions online with random strangers and this begins to impact your mental health as well. This is also a very slippery slope as it can lead to things like populism or even more extreme form of tribalism. Getting that balance back can be extremely difficult. This is especially true if you lose your ability to think as an individual.

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