Thursday, April 09, 2009
Properly Comemmorating the Armenian Genocide
Every year, as April approaches, Armenians all over the world prepare for the commemoration of the single most tragic chapter in the history of our collective consciousness; the Armenian Genocide. This event was such a stunning development in the long history of the Armenian people, that every aspect of modern Armenian culture is shaped and influenced by this focal point. In a way, it's as though Armenian history before the late 19th century was thrown into a blender and the resulting product is the modern Armenian cultural identity. As April 24th nears, these complex times of somber reflection degenerate into victimization and anger. Questions abound, as to how our ancestors allowed themselves to be slaughtered like sheep. We feel sympathy and anger for the blind and fatalistic acceptance of the approaching fate that many should have seen. We direct this anger and internal disgust at the European powers that watched as this tragedy unfolded. Further, we vilify the Turks, Kurds, and Muslims in general for what some of their ancestors did. Ultimately, the official denial by the Turkish Government, and the perceived apathy by the West is what stings the most. For most Armenians, it's almost a right of passage to raise their expectations that the year is approaching when the Turkish government finally accepts these atrocities as a genocide, and feeling truly remorseful, provides us financial and land reparations. Now, this fantasy is common to almost every Armenian, and allows for the festering of the victim mentality. Although we shouldn't allow these events to remain forgotten, and we should continue to pursue justice and acceptance, we cannot become slaves to this tragedy. Wasn't it enough for so many Armenians to be sacrificed so that those who have survived, can thrive in this world and make something of themselves? How many parents would give up their lives to know that their children would lead a better life? We no longer live under the yoke of foreign repression, and we have a country to ourselves. There is a nation called Armenia, that although small, should celebrate the fact that we've survived and thrived. This message of empowerment often falls upon deaf ears, as Armenians argue about their small differences. Having already tackled this last year (you can follow this link), I would like to commemorate the Genocide in a far more productive manner. I shall endeavor to uncover the history of the Armenian people, mainly focusing on the pre-Christian, largely unknown, era. To understand who we are as a modern community on this global stage, it is of utmost importance to uncover our origins, no matter how complex they may be. In the following posts, I will highlight various chapters of our background, with the understanding that a more complete history will lead to empowerment and self-discovery. Moreover, by celebrating the achievements of our antecedents we honor them in ways far greater than mourning or grief as the events of the past only strengthen the common bond that we all share.