BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The last three weeks’ events in the Republic of Armenia, occupied Western Armenia, and points further west in Asia Minor led me to the realization that one way to look at human affairs, and how well we handle them collectively, might be to view them as falling into four categories.
War, governance/rule, civic/public action, and the media (trench, capitol, street, and ether, respectively). We seem to handle the first two fairly well, but not so much the latter two.
War, any kind of intra-species fighting, or conflict has probably been with us longest. We fought not only other animals which became food, but among ourselves over the best land for food and water. We have since developed incredibly effective tools to destroy, harm, and/or kill. We are probably best at this aspect since it had been with us for so long,
Governance today (for the most past), or in earlier times rule, came as our families and clans became the organizational substrate on which life, and the war/conflict/fighting it required, was based. Someone had to decide what to do, when and how it would be done, and by whom. With the advent of agriculture, settled populations, and the attendant much increased need to regulate interactions among people, government and law were born. We’re also pretty good at this since we’ve been doing it for something like 10,000 years.
But now we get to newer arenas of human activity. Popular action, rebellions, democracy, government in republics with elections, as opposed to rule by someone who came to power through force or inheritance, are all new. We still haven’t mastered the integration into human life/society the voice of the people (popular will). So when people rebel against a government or even simply take to the streets in protests, those in power, the govern-ers, are often confounded and respond ham-handedly. Sometimes this is innocuous and gets resolved easily. Other times, bloodshed results. Sometimes the underlying problem(s) get(s) resolved quickly, and other times it takes years and generations. We have a long way to go before we are as good at this as we are in the trenches and capitols.
The ether, the media, the realm of public opinion is where we fare worst of all. While gossip and shared ideas, approaches, opinions, etc. have always been around, the ability, the capacity, to share them really exploded and became significant with the advent of literacy, followed by the boom in newspapers, and today the electronic media in all its manifestations (from radio to Reddit, television to texting, and all things internet/web). Now, ideas, opinions, facts, fallacies, pictures, sounds, etc. are dispersed everywhere essentially instantaneously. This makes for a dizzying array of factors for anyone, powerful or powerless, to consider before acting. Digesting all the data that bombards us and those in positions of power/rule/government is far from easy. Even more difficult is presenting and explaining actions we/they/anyone/any group take(s) in a way that is understandable and CORRECTLY understood by anyone and everyone else who is “listening” or can at least “hear” it through the din of all the competing information being thrown out into the public sphere.
Ankara’s barely-coup and Yerevan’s police headquarters takeover and demonstrations are very good examples of this lack in our ability to appreciate the importance, power, and relevance of the “street” and the complexity of functioning in the “ether” of today.
It’s time more of us trained in these two arenas. Encourage your friends and children to enter relevant fields of study when pursuing higher education – psychology, communications, organizational mechanics, etc.