In Trying Times: Purpose. Power. Progress

As Armenians, we’re in trying times.

But we’ve faced hardship before. Far worse, of course, and we’ve always come through.

At times like this, it’s sometimes worth asking why. Why is it that we’ve survived?

What exactly is it about us, or in us, that propels us forward against great hardship and some very tough odds.

— Some would say it’s our ability to adapt to change, and certainly that has its value.

— Others might argue that it’s our willingness to accommodate or align with the more powerful forces on the international stage, and we have surely seen much of that tendency in recent days.

— A few suggest that it’s our intellectual capacity to analyze the complex challenges we face, although, sad to say, the thinkers of these deep thoughts somehow nearly always end up counseling surrender.

We cannot, of course, ignore the world around us, nor fail to think clearly about how best to tackle the challenges ahead. We owe that to ourselves and to future generations.

We must seek out and heed wise counsel, but just as surely reject those who – reflexively, even pathologically – make a fetish of surrender and an unhealthy fixation of lecturing our nation about the hopelessness of our cause.

The lapdogs of foreign interests have little to teach the Armenian nation.

Through our long history, even when all around us, and even some among us, seemed intent on breaking our will, our grassroots always stood firm – confident in our strength, secure in our solidarity, and unbowed in the face of the forces that seek our surrender.

That’s where our true purpose comes from: our grassroots.

As a nation our strength comes from the powerful sense of heritage and identity in the beating heart of each Armenian. Multiplied through concerted grassroots action, this devotion translates into the service and sacrifice required of our nation’s future.

This spirit thrives in millions of devoted Armenians, sons and daughters of our ancient tribe – living in the homeland and abroad.

It has been the key to our purpose, our power, and our progress.

Through long centuries of challenge and change, this spirit has kept our national aspirations burning bright, our moral compass aligned toward justice, and our nation moving forward.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the grassroots drive for justice for the Armenian Genocide – a movement that, alongside our struggle for Nagorno Karabagh, both honors our past and helps secure our future.

Look at our record:

— Grassroots advocacy resulted in 42 U.S. states, more than 20 countries, including 12 of Turkey’s NATO allies, recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

— Grassroots efforts in Europe established Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a moral barrier to its acceptance into the European Union.

— In recent years grassroots activism moved the Armenian Genocide issue to center stage in the international arena, through Congressional legislation in 2000 and 2007, and, in 2009, through the prospect of a U.S. President properly condemning the Armenian Genocide.

That’s where our true power comes from: our grassroots.

All this was accomplished, against the powerful opposition of Turkey and its allies, by activists at the grassroots level, armed with the truth, inspired by morality, and driven by a commitment to justice and a secure future for Armenia.

It was this very grassroots pressure – not any charitable impulse among Turkey’s leaders – that drove Ankara to the negotiating table.

It is their continued fear of this power that, today, provides Armenia’s leverage in Protocol talks that are dangerously tilted in Ankara’s favor.

Turkey, to this very moment, fears that its ability to railroad Yerevan into this one-sided deal will be derailed by Armenian grassroots, at home and abroad, which, reflecting the core common sense and basic survival instinct of our people, see the Protocols as a real and present danger to the Armenian nation.

The lesson, as I see it, of our survival is that the battle for the future of our nation is won first in the heart of each Armenian and then in our ability to translate this devotion into meaningful, focused, effective grassroots action.

The bottom line is this: Stay active, speak out, stand strong.

That’s where our true progress comes from: our grassroots.

Our grassroots will drive us forward.

Our grassroots will overcome obstacles, foreign and domestic.

Our grassroots will, in the end, secure truth and justice and a fair and lasting peace between a free, independent, and united Armenia and all her neighbors.

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