Apologies to all of you who have noticed a large time gap since my last posting—touched that some of you have even noticed! Internet troubles and too much to do (and many other poor excuses). This post is something I have wanted to write for some time—it concerns the people who have played such a key part in helping me in assembling this trip. However, I will depart from my accepted practice at the end of this post, and provide a brief anecdote which touches on the “ugly” as well.
Most people have been really helpful, providing advice, getting me into contact with other people or in agreeing to meet with me, even when horrendously inconvenient. I am ever so grateful. These people are the “Good”; many of us fit into that category, I believe.
Some of those I have encountered have been nothing short of extraordinary. I feel I have to mention them individually below, in alphabetical order (and I apologise to those I have inadvertently left out): Tony Borden, Mark Bossanyi, Gordana Igric, Lana Narancic, Dimitrina Petrovna, Ian Patrick, and Dragana Nikolic Solomon. Dragana is typical of this group and, obviously, possesses a very cool name (and a personality to more than match!!) Not only did she have some great advice but she assembled nearly an entire schedule, joined me on two evenings, introduced me to her husband, took me to synagogue (at my request), accompanied me to some meetings and could not have gone out of her way more on my account. The others mentioned have also gone to extraordinary lengths on my behalf. Unsurprisingly I think of them as the “Great”.
What makes people go to these lengths? I assure you, I believe absolutely none of them thought they had anything to gain. At this stage, I have tried at least to be a pleasant and not too bothersome burden (not always successfully). But they could not have done more. Why people go to these lengths for people they have not met or hardly know, I cannot say. What I do believe is that it is on the efforts of outstanding people such as these that positive progress in the world takes place. Those based in the region will be the foundation on which progress and renewal takes place.
I feel compelled to share two more tales. One woman living in the UK, let’s call her X (after a series of emails and phone calls where I laid out the visit and its purpose) wrote in an email, “As you are aware I am a lawyer and a businesswoman and my time is valuable. I would be interested in helping you and would need to know what in this for me before I can devote any time towards this”. Another American “helping” in the region, let’s call him Y said, “look, for something like this, where there is nothing in it for me, it just doesn’t make sense for me to spend my time on it”. The exact quote was actually worse, but I did not record it perfectly—I wish I had. I guess these two represent the “Ugly”, or at least the “Not so Great”. Progress in the world rarely occurs thanks to their efforts.