Me 2016

Armen Kaleshian

Thoughts of a life hacker

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100 years of Genocide - What next?
Jerusalem Crosses
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Over the past few weeks, I've been thinking about how the Genocide has impacted my life, and more importantly, how it will affect future generations of Armenians.

As most Armenians my age, the memories of the Genocide I have are from my grandparents. All of the stories are of pain, struggle, suffering, and moments of near death to escape the intent of the Young Turks to annihilate the Armenians. They lost their family and friends, their homes, their churches, their communities, because of a difference in religion.

How is that different from the Jewish Holocaust? It isn't.
How is that different from what is happening in the Middle East today? It isn't.

History is repeating itself.

For a moment, let's remove religion from the equation, and focus on the cultures of the region.

The Armenians have lived in the same region since Before Christ. At various times in the last two thousand years, roughly the same piece of land has been conquered by the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Persians, the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, and the Russians. Through each occupation, the Armenians persevered. They established their own language, own communities, rising to positions of leadership in local, and national government and at times, found autonomy from the occupying government. As a race, and as a culture, their intent was always to survive - to persevere.

What is it about Armenians that keeps them resilient in the face of overwhelming adversity? Is it genetic? Or is it because they are the oldest remaining culture in the region, with an unconscious will to pass on their history to the next generation for fear of letting down their ancestors? How does this will propagate to the day-to-day responsibilities of an Armenian?

As an Armenian, I can answer yes to all of those questions. Around the world, Armenians are known as hard workers, stubborn at times, because of this underlying drive to survive.

The Ottoman Turks should have consulted history before embarking on their mission.

Today, we commemorate the 1.5 Million lives lost, each one officially canonized as Saints by the Armenian Church. On one side, we hold a solemn remembrance, and another, a deep anger toward the Turkish government for not acknowledging their actions. Some argue that the current regime shouldn't be held responsible - Israel didn't negotiate with the Nazis for reparations. The Turkish government is understandingly afraid of what the consequences may be if they do acknowledge the Genocide. Unfortunately, the current leadership isn't prepared to give up their pride, and like the Armenians, fail to keep the unspoken promise to their ancestors.

The Armenians, around the world, year after year, will continue to remember the Genocide. They will continue to convince governments around the world to recognize it as such. They will not stop until the Turkish government has as well. In addition, they will continue to work hard, in passing on their language, their traditions, so that their ancestors will have not persevered for naught. What more can be done?

During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians held important positions in business, and government. Their influence brought about the ratification of the Armenian National Constitution, defining autonomy of a Christian race within an Islamic empire... what if Armenians in modern day Turkey were to gain the same level of power in business and government?

In closing, I am grateful to be born as an Armenian, with a rich history, and culture. I am proud to call myself an Armenian, educating those who aren't aware of our plight. I will remember and pass on the stories of our Genocide to my children, so that one day, this dark time in our history will be recognized.

Աստված նրանց հոգիները Լուսավորե


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