People’s True Motivations

This has nothing really to do with Social Business directly—but then again, perhaps it does. It has to do with motivations—the real reason people actually do things, as opposed to what they say, or what others say about them. And it is also a fantastic story involving two people I met on this trip—Randall Joyce and Gordana Igric, of whom I have spoken in another post. The question I put to you, the reader is, “why did these two people do what they did?”

Gordana was a news reporter covering tragedies committed in Bosnia during the 1990s. She had, through investigation, uncovered some terrible things which were taking place in the town of Foca, Bosnia—murder, rape, sexual imprisonment, etc. For her work she had her life threatened and was told never to return or she would be killed. In this town, the police were unlikely to offer much by way of protection, to anyone but the criminal gangs, that is.

Randall Joyce was a cameraman (now producer) with CBS, and he was dispatched to find ‘Tuta’, a sort of a local bigwig, with quite an unsavoury and violent reputation. The “story” Randall needed to get was of Tuta and anything which linked him to the crimes allegedly committed. Randall, an American, needed a local to “go in” with him—as you can imagine, most ran in the other direction! Eventually he found a driver and a guide, who of course, was Gordana, despite the death threat. Why did she go? “War crimes were committed—it was important to get this information”, she said.

Fitted with a hidden lens in his glasses, hooked up to a battery in his belt, Gordana and Randall went in search of Tuta. Now you can imagine how willing townspeople are to point out the local criminal kingpin! But eventually, (and I will leave out many remarkable aspects of this story—this is a blog, not a novel, folks), they find Tuta, who, like all underworld bosses, is living in a flat with his….mother! In this meeting, Tuta (who is of course surrounded by neckless, well-armed body guards) admits to pretty much everything and offers to actually sell his story in detail for $5,000. He says he will first have to check with his bosses (who are the same folks who have declared that they will kill Gordana if she returns—and remarkably she and Randall use their actual names!). Eventually they agree to meet the next day. Randall and Gordana move towards the door and begin to heave a great sigh of relief—they have got the story they came for “on camera”!!

Unfortunately a car pulls up outside and they are told to “get in”. This is hospitality “they cannot refuse” and at this point, both are convinced they will be killed as the drive into a secluded part of town begins. All this time the car’s battery is getting hotter and hotter—searing Randall’s back, yet somehow they hold themselves together. They get taken to a room and are brought in……..to be offered some videotapes of the atrocities (at a price), and again note their need to check with their bosses. Miraculously they are then taken back to their driver and released—freedom, they have made it!

But that night, they begin to consider the idea of going back! They have the story, have gotten out with their lives, yet they think of going back!! To Gordana, this is particularly important—they will secure evidence, useful to bring people to justice after this mess is over, and she feels very strongly about this. Randall, who not in a million years imagines he should even consider going back eventually, much to his own shock and amazement, agrees. “Look, she came for me to Foca to get the story—how could I abandon her?” He felt he owed her this, and saw the importance of the evidence they would potentially secure. I imagine, they both thought this was to be their last night on earth.

The next day they set out with their driver and were taken to an abandoned restaurant on an island in the middle of a river to meet with the guards—straight out of a “B” movie. I guess they have the sort of conversation people have just before they are to be killed. Yet nothing happens! The bad guys never show up. They drive back, CBS makes the programme—the good guys win!

So why did these two do it? Well, Gordana’s reasons appear quite clear, perhaps. But what about Randall? Did he risk their lives to get a scoop? To capture a war criminal? To thank a brave woman who “took him in” at great personal risk? You guess. But I should tell you one last thing—Gordana and Randall are now husband and wife, living together in the Frushka Gora hills outside Belgrade. As Randall admits, “ah yes, and then there was the human factor”—he had fallen for Gordana! I told you this was a “B” movie.

So when we come upon bravery of an extraordinary kind, like this, or even the story of Veran Matic, or so many others I have met on this trip, or when we happen upon any act for which we seek to understand the deep inner motives, I always think it is best to avoid simple “obvious” answers. We undertake important actions in our lives for various reasons—and they are frequently “overdetermined”, as my wife often tells me. Sometimes our reasons are not even transparent to us—we may motivated by dark, unconscious, unknown forces, sometimes by demons from our past, or sometimes our carnal instincts, or even all of the above. So it is with social entrepreneurs—so it is with journalist heroes and heroines.

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