Following Up

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPAIRIAN

There are a few things I’d like to bring up with those who take the trouble to read my articles.

Thanks, for reading, of course.

I do wish more people would take the time respond, tell the world (me included) what you think. It’s so easy, especially with so many people reading on line. Just post a comment. It would help me understand what people are thinking. More important, it would give everyone a better sense of what the prevailing ideas, sensibilities, opinions, etc. are within our communities and nation.

Happily some people do respond. Otherwise I’d be tempted to believe no one is even reading. Others, those who happen to know me personally, will sometimes convey their reactions to what I’ve written. Please, take those same comments and observations, and type them. When I’ve made this suggestion directly to people, some have obliged, others… let’s hope you will in the future.

For those who do respond, I’ll make a further request. Sometimes, the comments that appear, (I always read them, though I don’t think it’s my place to reply in the comments section under my articles) seem to have no connection to the topic at hand. Other times, through a series of digressions, the discussion ends up straying far from the original topic. It’s interesting reading, sometimes thought provoking and sometimes eliciting a hearty chuckle, but focusing on the original issue would probably be more informative.

Discussions are necessary to building and evolving a consensus in our national life. Our surroundings are not stagnant, nor can our notions be, lest we fall off humanity’s civilizational bandwagon.

By way of recent, specific, topics to follow up, I want to note that a letter to the editor appeared in the Los Angeles Times regarding their piece about the risks for tourists in Turkey. A traveler had written to say that the cruise on which she was booked had modified the trip to exclude Turkey. According to the letter writer, that cruise line had made the same modification to all its cruises that included Turkey. This jibes with the sentiments expressed in response to my article based on the LA Times item. I hadn’t even thought of cruises. But that’s another angle, and we should be encouraging all the lines to ditch Turkey. The added twist to all this is what I’ve heard from friends about staff on these ships, worldwide… many are Turks.

The other item to follow up with is the question of wedding locations based on the rules of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Some of the comments contended that we have to abide by our “traditions” no matter what. So, let me ask— is it better to salvage 90% of a tradition or lose it entirely. Was it better for me, a third of a century ago when running a summer day camp, to have kids observe Vartavar with a water balloon fight or not do anything since “sprinkling” one another with water was not workable? Obviously, those who integrated pre-Christian traditions into our national church thought it was better to save them, even though in a “Christianized” form. Besides, remember that traditions are the practical solutions of a given time for some need, real or imagined (see the story in the next paragraph). They will persist until either the need disappears, or the times change so as to render that solution/tradition impractical. When that happens, new traditions will emerge, nothing to be afraid of.

To end things on a fun note, allow me to remind you of the story of a young woman, recently married, baking fish for the first time. She seeks her mother’s advice. The mom gives the newlywed cleaning, preparation, and spicing instructions, ending with “cut off the tails, and put them in the oven.” Finding last step odd, the daughter asks why the tails should be cut off. The mother’s reply is, “I don’t know, it’s how we’ve always done it. That’s what my mother taught me.” So the young bride visits her grandmother, asks the same question, and hears “I don’t know, it’s how we’ve always done it. That’s what my mother taught me.” So she goes to visit her great-grandmother, asks the same question and learns through the raspy tones of the aged woman, “Oh, way back then, our ovens were small. We had to cut the tails off so the fish would fit inside.”

Thanks again. Please keep reading. Please respond more often.

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6 Comments

  1. hiedi baghoomian said:

    *** Thank you for being there. I always read your opinions and articles.

  2. Lorenz yacoubian said:

    There is a memorable line in Fiddler on the Roof in which Tevye, despairing at his children’s lack of attachment to their traditions, says: “Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as… as a fiddler on the roof!” As Armenians living abroad, here’s a lot that’s shaky in our lives today, and many of us need our Armenian traditions to give us balance and a sure foundation.

  3. Arthur said:

    I enjoy reading your columns. Interesting, smart, and witty. Initially, I would read your columns, here and there, based on if the title interested me. After I read a few, I realized I liked the way you think and write; now I read all of your columns, showing no interest to the title.

  4. Stepan said:

    I think your point is that adaptation without losing our core values has been the key to the survival of the Armenians. Change is good so long as it doesn’t destroy the essence of who we are. I find it humorous when “purists” objects. They are simply objecting to what they see at a particular point in time. Our culture, language and traditions have been evolving for thousands of year based on time, those who influence us and geo-political conditions. It’s an evolution. We get upset when we see things from the 1920’s not continued, but if we looked at in the context of the 15th century vs. the 20th century, we’d find that the 1920’s have a lot more in common with today than we think. Good article.

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