Homo Ottomanicus?

By Garen Yegparian

A few days ago–at a presentation about our political operations–the speaker described a pattern of behavior as being "the Armenian way" when describing the approach of a certain organization.

It was the go-along-to-get-along approach to life in its worst manifestation. Cowering before the mighty. Abiding by their wishes even when those impinge on or harm one’s own needs–desires–and goals. This is how we made it through Ottoman times. We became servile creatures–barely recognizable as human.

Fortunately–our revolutionary period reinserted our backbones–but evidently not into all of us. The Soviet period wrought its damage too. To this day–people who grew up in that time and place–still speak while barely opening their mouths–as if to avoid being discovered.

But what of those who grew up in and have known only the relative freedom of the Diaspora? Why are some of them so eager to please their "betters"? Or is it perhaps their "masters" they’re pleasing in their own pathetic minds?

Why would Armenia’s not proudly advocate Armenian interests? Why would they not set out what we really want–in toto–then work as reality allows for pieces of that whole until we’ve attained it all? To strategically and tactically back off a demand for good reason and for a time is wise. To not ever state it–deny its existence–negotiate it away–or only pursue it when permission is "granted" by those "wiser" than we is treasonous.

This cowardly mindset is an anachronism. It is no longer warranted anywhere we are.

It can be particularly detrimental when navigating the ship of state. Current leaders of the two Armenian republics seem to be doing a good job on this front. No one should undercut them by advocating policies based on fear of regional or super-powers.

But the concern is not limited to Yerevan. The same thing happens closer to home. We can often be too accommodating to those in power on the local level too. We might support people for office who are not the best (or least worst) choice from an Armenian perspective–just for fear of retribution. Thus we get to be the "loyal millet" of yore all over again.

I do not a call for loudmouthed posturing with no substance or ability to deliver.

I call for ridding ourselves of this Ottoman pathology (with due credit to Ara Baliozian who wrote on this repeatedly a decade and more ago) once and for all.


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