A Broken Compass

BY HENRY D. ASTARJIAN M.D.

Poverty of thought, one manifestation of Alzheimer’s, characterizes the Armenian nation; today we are suffering from it and from the global dysfunction of our collective higher mental faculties.

We have lost our orientation to self, time, and place, and we have lost our ability to calculate, deliberate, judge, exercise logic, foresee, and prepare for the future; we have lost our compass. The Nation is drifting, and the winds are not filling our canvas. We live in the past, we sing of its glory yet we fail to use it as a platform to spring forward.

Armenianism, for a big sect of ethnic Armenians, begins and ends with the Red Genocide, yet the White Genocide and the Grey Genocide, like maggots, keep on munching on the very fabric of our nation. The two opiates, denial and fatalism, mask the real pain of that destruction.

There was a time when the nation’s heart throbbed with fervor, determination to survive, music, literature, theater, creativity, and shrewd politicians who held the nation together and pumped blood into our veins. All that is gone! Now we suffer from poverty of soul, in addition to poverty of thought. Our nationalism has metamorphosed into eating Armenian food, attending “Kefs”, praising each other’s achievement, doing municipal work, and donating guilt money through telethons rather than dirtying our hands with real dirty political work which requires involvement and sacrifice.

The nation has become disjointed; Armenia does not evoke the same emotion, and does not bring about yearning for the fatherland as it did during, say, the Second Republic, when Armenia was a forbidden land for us diasporans, and home for freedom hungry people of Armenia. Under those circumstances we were one. We both worked for Free Armenia. Our only physical connection was the radio. When it announced “Yerevanne` Khosum” people’s hearts skipped a beat; It felt as if we had received another shot of tranquility, hope, and further spiritual commitment to Armenianism. For people of Armenia, their only hope for salvation was the Tashnagtsutiun.

Not anymore!

The United States fortified that hope, but only in the context of the Cold War. Armenian Americans swelled the ranks of the ARF, only to become oblivious to the organization at the conclusion of the Cold War.

The Nation is on the path of disintegration.

In two generations the Nation, including Armenia, has not produced a single poet, a single philosopher, a single literary giant, a single serious musical composition, a single drama or comedy, a single opera, a single military commander, a single political figure, a single strategist, a single futurist, or a single visionary worthy of excellence or praise. Our linguistics and the lexicon have deteriorated, especially in Armenia, where the Soviet era spelling and grammar have been basterdized, and the government hasn’t raised a finger to fix it. The structure has crumbled under the weight of alienation.

Armenia has ceased becoming our guiding light!

Deterioration is nowhere more obvious than in the conduct of the government of Armenia and its opposition organizations in the fatherland. The first President of the third Republic “Barone Nakhakah” almost sold Karabakh, kowtowed to the Turks, and ignoring the memories of a million and a half Armenian Martyrs, went to Turgut Ozal’s funeral in Ankara on our most sacred day, April 24. There he was caught on camera surreptitiously sharing a laugh with Azerbaijan’s President Haydar Aliyev; he could not have been discussing the independence of Karabakh.

His successor presided over the gigantic growth of corruption, and on his watch criminal oligarchy flourished to unimaginable levels.

Enter the third President, whose era is marked with the continuation of official and unofficial corruption, and the blunder of the “Protocols” with Turkey, which if implemented would have sold the country, and Karabakh down the pike. But for the Diaspora’s firm objections, the protocols would have been a disastrous reality for the Nation today.

This is a tragic situation!

While Armenia is plagued with institutionalized corruption, and misguided policies, “Armenian Diasporan governments” which dominate Armenian life spanning the Globe are handicapped. Constrained with citizenship in a given country, they have to conduct themselves pari-passu with the host country’s stance on issues and their official policies. Though sizable Armenian communities live in the Islamic countries, and despite the fact that in some instances we have elected members of Parliament, such as in Iran, so far they have made no attempt to present their cause to the Islamic world. For more than a decade now, the Conference of the Islamic Countries has condemned Armenia year after year and sided with Azerbaijan on the issue of Nagorno Karabakh. Despite the fact that the Arabs had the same fate as Armenians in the hands of the Ottomans during WWI, they still do not recognize the massacres as Genocide.

Maybe our leaders are green, lacking historic backgrounds, education, experience, knowledge and sobriety, not to mention adherence to the principles of the Tashnagtsutyun’s founding Ungers. Maybe steering the Party away from its original purpose of existence to a rationalized political direction is the wrong path they are taking to reach the Nation’s goals. I am sure there are many other reasons for this mediocre performance, even lack of it which could be discussed another time.

This is the situation as it exists, however it is my firm belief that the Nation which is rich with intellectual capabilities and talent and regenerative powers is capable of reforming itself, and mobilizing all its forces to fend all kinds of threats to its being and existence.

We need a new compass!

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