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Brankica Janković, Commissioner for the Protection of Equality

The More We Speak – The Less We Understand One Another

It is necessary to master the skill of listening and understanding others

Ihave behind me 20 years of work in protecting human rights, especially in the field of social protection. That helped me master the most difficult skill – that of listening. It is necessary to listen to others even when you’re unable when you’re in such a state that it’s necessary for someone to listen to you. Unfortunately, today we are speaking ever more and hearing and understanding each other even less, and we have increasingly less willingness to understand one another. A general din reigns, so no one hears the quiet and the weak anymore.

That’s also the key to dealing with my current job – protecting equality. You have to find a way to hear those who are the quietest, for whom remaining silent is most often a way of rebelling and resisting. Not everyone who thinks differently is an enemy, just as every supporter of something doesn’t necessarily have to be an honest and true follower of an idea, attitude or intention.

From the start, I’ve had trust in people and I don’t regret that, nor do I consider changing my approach – regardless of the numerous experiences that direct me towards reaching the opposite conclusion when it comes to trust.

In the work that I do, I’m fully aware that there are no easy solutions, though some things that are seemingly miraculous happen sporadically. There also aren’t any insoluble problems or situations; it is just a question of the extent to which a person is ready to deal with them, with problems and/or difficult life situations, to face and confront them, but also how ready one is to ultimately get to grips with the mistaken consequences of one’s own decisions. Although mistakes don’t necessarily mean that the decision was wrong, because not all battles are fought with the sole purpose of winning.

Becoming self-realised is a continuous process, and every day, or even every hour, process. It is impossible to achieve this in a correct way that’s inwardly meaningful to one’s being without knowing oneself, without a sincere and honest image of oneself, one’s virtues and flaws, one’s advantages and limitations. It’s not a problem to want and desire something. It is also necessary to know and be able to achieve it. And often to dare. This conforms to one’s system of values and personal morality, so – those factors in every person that enables them to have a full and true awareness of oneself and, through that consciousness and self-awareness, to achieve self-esteem – should for everyone represent the limits of acting or not acting, manifesting as a human being.

Compromises are naturally required, but not all, and not at any cost – because if that is the case, if it is always and in everything calculated, evaluated, weighted – then those aren’t really compromised, they aren’t the least possible common content around which agreement exists, or a decision to do or not do something, rather it is a must, a necessity, or non-freedom, the ultimate absence of choice.

Everyday life is the given reality, fortified by obligations, responsibilities and various problems; a reality that is conceived in such a way that it seeks the whole man and his every effort, both mentally and physically. It exists as a given constant that has its own laws, its own rules, that are often imposed, prescribed, and often also forced by objective factors over which man has no influence. Standing, in contrast, is the human need to be free from every imposed restriction, regardless of the social justification for such restriction. Finding your own route between those two extremes, one that can reconcile them and make them useful in every aspect of their personality, is a formula for success. I believe that realistically assessing your own strengths, powers, knowhow and skills is a way to succeed in dealing with adversity or various challenges and dilemmas of life.

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