By: Janet Shamilian
Are we Armenians a divided people? We identify ourselves with the familial atmosphere that is established when two Armenians meet. We take pride in William Saroyan’s quote, “For when two of them [Armenians] meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” I wonder, have we lost our sense of unity in contemporary society? It seems that not only are we not creating a New Armenia, but instead we are separating and dividing all that is left.
In the eyes of others and much worse in the eyes of our own people, this division may eventually become our defining feature. Is this a fair representation of who we are? Is this a correct assessment of what we want? Do we really follow the «Բարցրացիր, Բարցրացրուր» (“Bartsratsir Bartsratsour”) mentality? This competition amongst us does not allow us to appreciate the infinite delight this world has to offer. Instead, it makes us turn against each other. We should be helping one another. Feelings of superiority and inferiority should not be tolerated within our culture. We should be working towards not only bettering ourselves, but bettering our people. Competition among us creates animosity and hostility. When one Armenian succeeds and is recognized, we feel a sense of pride. We should feel a sense of pride. That Armenian has an obligation – to elevate his or her people. The Armenian needs to reflect his or her recognition on the Armenian people. It does not stop with what you are able to obtain independently. We should be accountable to our roots, heritage, and our ancestors. This unity should be carried out collectively – as one. We need to hold hands and climb our mountain and appreciate the view from the top…together. We need to hold hands and work towards raising ourselves to such peaks. We need to hold hands and unite.
Painful and heart wrenching is the realization that we Armenians are now divided into subgroups based on our dialects. These subdivisions serve as the predominant hindrance in our progression towards unification. In a previous blog post, I alluded to the fact that defining ourselves by these subgroups deteriorates and dissects the Armenian language. However, a more serious issue is not just dividing our language, but subgrouping our people. Each of these subgroups are associated with certain stereotypes. Members of other cultures or ethnic backgrounds have not established the stereotypes associated with respective dialects of the Armenian language. We have created these stereotypes. We have divided and categorized the meaning of being an Armenian. Classifying ourselves as different “kinds” of Armenians serves as the catalyst towards our disconnect.
In addition, we have become so divided a people that violence among Armenians is now common. This situation should be unimaginable…unthinkable. It is absolutely baffling that this is one of our present day problems. Violence is never justifiable. Yet, violence over nonsense between Armenians takes place at various events. We need to step back and understand that nothing should resort to any form of violence. By engaging in such monstrous activity, we do not only engrain a negative and irreversible image in the eyes of non-Armenians, but we also destroy our sanctuary, we tarnish the meaning of being an Armenian, and we affiliate ourselves with hypocrisy. For instance, just last month in June 2012, 100 Armenians were involved in a brawl during a wedding in Glendale, California. We need to realize that we are fighting our brothers and sisters. Our fists should not be aimed at one another but rather at the fight for justice. Our clenched fists need to be directed towards the fight for our cause.
On June 29th, 2012, military doctor Vahe Avetyan died from the brutal beating he underwent on behalf of oligarch Ruben Hayrapetian’s body guards. We condemn the Turks for essentially the same thing, but yet here we are, mourning the loss of one of our fallen soldiers. Fallen because of a fellow Armenian – one of our own. This should not be a topic subject to protest because this issue should be nonexistent – Armenian or not. Hayrapetian’s inhuman act does not define our people. Hayrapetian does NOT deserve to be called an Armenian. Being a former member of Armenia’s Parliament, being President of the Football Federation of Armenia, and residing in our homeland does not make one an Armenian. Being an Armenian is inexplicable, it is who you are, it lives within you, it is your country, your language, but moreover it is the people who give definition to the Armenian population. Hayrapetian does not define my people.
These separations and issues are deteriorating our “New Armenia.” To what purpose does this serve? As people, we Armenians are scrutinized, doubted, and are often overlooked. If we do not begin realizing the strength in our numbers, we will eventually have to accept this treatment. If we cannot fight for ourselves because we are too busy fighting each other, then we cannot reserve the right to act united when we so choose. Unity is a connection, an intangible concept. We need to feel the sense of belonging, acceptance, and warmth when being in the presence of another Armenian.
Join hands. Unite. The time is now. We need to meet and create a “New Armenia.”