Hai-Tahd ≠ Spectator Sport
BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Last weekend, someone paid me quite a compliment! As I was hiking down the mountainside, I said hello to a hiker going uphill, who then responded, but also asked if I was Armenian, if I wrote for Asbarez… I had been recognized because of my picture online. This was one of my readers! It’s always thrilling to learn that people are actually reading this stuff (other than my family members, of course).
Naturally, a brief discussion ensued and I expressed my gratitude for the compliment. I learned this person was particularly interested in the struggle for recognition of the Genocide, and the importance of that in achieving our larger national agenda.
In short order, I issued an invitation to participate in Burbank ANCA’s activities and gave our chair’s phone number. Here’s where things got interesting. I might have misread the situation, but I noticed resistance to entering the number in a cell phone.
Hence the title of this piece. It hit me that we have so many people who are genuinely interested in our cause, or some aspect of it, yet do not engage. Why is that?
Sure, some people have time constraints, and others live in very Armenian-wise isolated areas, making participation difficult. But these aren’t the folks that concern me. It’s the great majority of others who can, but don’t, do something to press our cause.
We need everyone’s help. I’m not advocating everyone becoming an activist who dedicates five hours a day to our work. But just about everyone can and ought to dedicate five minutes a day. Think about that! The one million Armenians living in the U.S. giving that much of their day nets us 1,826,250,000 minutes of volunteer time annually. That’s 30,437,500 person-hours or 1,268,229.17 person-days per year. More strikingly, that’s equivalent to one person working nonstop for 3,472.2 years! Imagine how many letters, faxes, e-mails, visits to government officials- elected and appointed, meetings with media people, cooperative efforts with like-minded groups, etc. that time would get us.
Taking a different approach, if we valued that time at a relatively modest $25 an hour, that’s $760,937,500. I doubt we garner that much money countrywide in any given year even if we were to account for every church, soccer team, and political fundraiser that gets organized. Now imagine how many staffers that would get us. In turn, how much work those staffers could do, including raising more funds.
We all know this isn’t going to happen. But, what if those, who can’t or won’t be dedicating their time were to give some money instead? Many of us already do, but some don’t, for similarly mysterious reasons as there non-participation.
The good news is, there’s a great opportunity to remedy that gap on May 20. The ANCA Endowment Fund telethon will hit the airwaves in the (alphabetically) Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Fresno, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Providence, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. areas. It will also be streamed live online— www.ancatelethon.org. It starts at 2 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. Pacific time (5-11 Eastern time).
Watch it, get psyched, and give (if you want to match the five-minute calculation above, and can afford it, then contribute $760.42). This will enable various programs not just in Washington D.C., but throughout the country. Learn more.