Are We Awake?

Garen Yegparian

Two months to go–and what have we done?

Do you know what you’re doing on and for April 24th this year? If you’re one of the Vegas-going crowd or its ilk–please stop reading this. It’ll either irritate you or give you guilt–and I sure wouldn’t want to cause any shortening of your meaningless life due to stress.

Who’s fault is it that so many of us engage in foolish–demeaning–or otherwise wholly inappropriate pursuits on the day we’re to honor the victims of the first genocide of the modern era and rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of a free–independent and UNITED Armenia?

Certainly anyone who would even entertain such notions is clearly lacking on the conscience front. But it’s not just about the individual. Our organizations–ALL of them–are at fault too.

Why? The easiest example is the gathering at the Montebello monument that was a fixture of the greater-LA area Armenian community. What should have by now become an unassailable–solemn–no-brainer of a gathering has been tinkered with so much that people don’t even know whether it’s on or off. What’s so tough about having a gathering there–with flowers being lain by all attendees around the flame. Perhaps a rotating color guard composed of our different scouting and athletic organizations–schools–and maybe even Armenia’s armed forces. Maybe a prayer for a brief moment–plus a call to action–but nothing like the litany of (mostly) platitudes oozing from the politicians we invite–it’s just not the time and place. It’s boring. It’s unheeded. It’s irrelevant. This annual re-inventing of the wheel has led to fragmentation of our efforts and left doors open for those who have less than the most beneficial of agendas to get a foothold in our communities.

Where government officials should be speaking is at the Turkish consulate demonstration. There–they can make a difference. State and local elected-s might promise to prohibit purchases by their jurisdictions of anything containing Turkish content. They could commit to advocacy with federal authorities to pursue a more pro-Armenian course diplomatically and legislatively. Federal level elected-s might promise to deliver bans on Turkish imports until recognition–reparations–and return of Armenian lands are completed. They might alternatively impose a "Genocide tax" the net proceeds of which would go into a reparation fund. Who knows? What matters is–those guys making such statemen’s within earshot of Turkish diplomats. Imagine how much that would roil diplomatic waters and cause Turkey to focus its attention on our issues.

Any hint of this is absent. So is any trace of excitement. Novelty and progress? Zilch. So why should we–as a community–as activists–as leaders–or as a nation expect people to put themselves out and show up to promote our cause when the comforts of home or the opulence and decadence of Vegas beckon?

There’s also a shortage of education. Most of our community is brainwashed with typical American "just live life" and "it’s all old-world foolishness" indoctrination. We provide insufficient counterbalance to the grinding assimilative–alienating wheels that drive us apart.

But getting back to the original point–do you know what you’re doing on or for April 24th? Have you asked your favored organization what’s being planned? Is it being publicized to your satisfaction? Are your kids primed for it–e.g. expecting to miss soccer practice with their non-Armenian team? Have you set the day aside?

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