Thursday, 08 June 2023
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

For me this is one of the main reasons why I live in Dubrovnik

Written by  Jun 19, 2022

Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro. “So if we lock the outer gate and the house door and our room door, that would be three locked doors between us and any intruder,” she said for the fourth time. “Yes, that sounds right,” I answered.

This conversation went on like this with security based questions for at least another half an hour. To explain how I found myself in this situation. Well, a group of Americans were staying at a friend’s luxury villa and he asked me to do him a favour and meet them and show them around and introduce them to Dubrovnik.

They were from all over the states, from Texas, New York, Maine, California, basically from the coasts and the so called fly-over states. However, even though they were clearly a mixed group they had one thing in common, safety and security.

“So do you have cameras on the entrance doors?” they asked. This particular villa is a walled one so it only has two entrances. “We only ask because we were in Barcelona last year and we saw somebody trying to climb the walls of the villa there,” they said.

That was the spark that lit my monologue about Dubrovnik and safety, and 10 minutes later they were satisfied and at ease. I didn’t add that the Republic banned the trade of slaves in 1418, or 369 years before the US Constitution was even written.

We almost all take the sheer and unique beauty of Dubrovnik for granted because we see it every day, but there are many things that we all just assume is normal behaviour, when it fact quite often were are privileged. Safety is one of those.

And as I was talking to these Americans and they were double-checking about locking doors and not walking alone at night I noticed an overwhelming emotion in their voices, fear. I had seen this before in my own voice when I lived in London. It’s a strong emotion. One that can lead you to strange places and to do strange things.

“There are 50 states in the US and 37 had mass shootings in 2021,” said one of the men in the group. That was quite a jump, we had gone from someone climbing the walls and stealing your handbag to mass gun incidents. Fear again was there. I guess it’s understandable.

And whilst the US clearly have a gun problem London has a different one, knives. Around 10,000 knife crimes were recorded in London last year. Now you can maybe understand the fear.

“Can I just that whilst I am speaking to you here my house and car are completely unlocked,” I tried to lighten the mood. “And yes, you can walk around at midnight or 3 in the morning without problems,” that comment raised all of their eyebrows in disbelief. It was the clash of two worlds, and I knew which one I would rather live in.

I didn’t mention the fact that of the houses that are locked in Dubrovnik that the majority have the keys under the carpet or plant pot in front of the door, that’s Dubrovnik “high security.”

There are whole industries based around security, both personal and home, in many countries of the world. An industry that would go bankrupt in a few weeks in Dubrovnik. But like I said we just take this as normal, we get used to the fact that there is more chance of us winning the lottery then being burgled.

However, on a global scale we are certainly in the minority. We are probably the 10 percent and we aren’t even aware of it.

And that got my thinking about the Latin inscription in Lovrijenac and indeed the symbol and flag of the city, Libertas. In times gone by when these were all created they really stood for something else, yes they meant freedom but really freedom of the city.

However, it actually made me rethink, Libertas is still more than relevant today. We have Libertas. And yes, after a long chat with these American guests, but to be honest I would have had a similar conversation with 90 percent of the world’s population, I realised that freedom should not be on sale for all the gold in the world.

We should cherish want we have, our Libertas! 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to


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