What Identity Means?

The new developed Stepanakert


It might sound cocky, but I don’t think most Armenians in Diaspora know the true definition of self-Identity.

I get emails from Apple quite often, regarding songs that are new, or popular. I received one about a month ago which introduced the new CD of David Crowder band – a young Christian oriented group. Don’t get me wrong, I am not religious at least not in the way that is popular in the mindset of the masses, but I enjoyed the music that this band played, especially one song, or rather, a recording called “Burial.”

It is about a minute long, it starts with the sound of rain, and then you hear a clergyman’s voice (or I assume that is what he is); he clears his throat and starts talking. “As we, the community, have gathered here, I would like to pose a question, how do you sum up a life in a few words? How do you measure the weight of a soul in a matter of moments? You do not, you cannot. But you can pray for rest, and you can pray for light, and you can remember, you can always remember.”

For me, this is a question that also applies to the question of Identity. For instance I can ask “How do you sum up your identity in a few words?” You can’t, can you? It is more than a label, it is something that projects from you and makes you who you are. You can also simplify it a bit. If someone asks you what does the word “Armenian” mean, what will you answer? Will your definition be the basis of its origin, its unique culture, its irreplaceable history or its unmatchable language? None of them can be singled out, and it is a sum of all.

And as anything, everything has its defined cost. If you want a better house, a fancier car, or want to wear a fancier watch or expensive jewelry, the relevant cost gets to be relatively more. Your identity is very much similar, except the relative cost is much more overwhelming. Sometimes you have to give your life, sometimes your knowledge, and sometimes your money, which in this, it is the easiest.

It is very important that we know what we are and who we are, the processes that are invoked on our lives from the day we are born to the last breath is solely attributed and based on that definition.

Artsakh in this case, is a very good example. We sacrificed a lot of lives and spilled much blood to sustain its boundaries… It was a necessary cost to enable us to keep it. After all we were not there on rent, we were the owners.

It has been almost twenty years since Artsakh was liberated. If we want to keep Artsakh, if we want it to be a part of our identity, we cannot devote ourselves of the need of sacrifice… and the sacrifice is to find ways for Artsakh to sustain its population.

An article printed in Armenian in the Thursday, March 1 edition of Asbarez, President of Artsakh Bako Sahakian says, “… it is evident that in 1992 the population of Artsakh was 138,000; today that number is 145,000.” That is less than five-percent growth within the span of 20 years!

I visited Artsakh many times, the last time was in August, and I stayed there for a week. I noticed that the process of building and structure development has exponentially increased in Shushi and Stepanakert, but when I asked the night manager of the hotel about the vast improvement, he answered with a grin. “What improvement,” he said, “that so called improvement is not for the population, It is merely a curtain…you know how much I make as a manager? 70,000 dram (less than $200). Where is the improvement? Define it for me!”

I’m not giving you this example in a negative way. It is the reality of the people living in Artsakh. It is not just that employee, but rather the entire population that has not seen improvement. There is no class separation in that region. The rich are not getting richer and the poor are not getting poorer. Everyone across the board is at a standstill.

The only way to sustain its population is to create a livelihood that transcends employment opportunities beyond agriculture, which is the main industry in Artsakh. Providing water to drink is a necessity of life but it does not sustain Artsakh’s population. The current reality is such that the population growth percentage is around five-percent. That increase is far too little; so a valid question is: why was so much patriotism perpetuated, and wasn’t it a waste to lose so many lives for something that we liberated but were and are not ready to keep, sacrifice for, and sustain?

It is important to achieve liberty but it is also important to sustain it!!!!!!!!

A Scholar for Scientific, Educational, and Cultural Development, Inc. (SSECD) is an organization that pursues projects that tend to improve the quality of life for people who do not have the resources to do it themselves. The SSECD has partnered with the government of Artsakh to create a Computer Information System Department (CIS) department in Artsakh State University. It is a first step, a mere beginning to cultivate the economy of the region. The students that graduate will get a Bachelor’s degree and the knowledge that comes with it. And since computer technology is trans-global, the provided work force can develop and support software anywhere in the world. A good example is India, if they could do it in less than a decade, why can’t we?

In January 16, Artsakh president (Bako Sahakian) gave a speech in Artsakh State University; these are some of its excerpts:

“Education and science have traditionally served as basic means for revealing, developing and applying our principal wealth – the intellectual potential of our society. The future of a nation and a state, the pace and the prospects of its economic development and the development of the other fields depend, to a great extent, on education, and particularly on the higher education.”

“Education plays an invaluable role in the hard process of bringing up the younger generation. Such crucial qualities as patriotism, fairness, decency, law-abidance, which are the pillars of the civilized, democratic, powerful and developed state, are shaped during the educational processes. Hence, even a slight omission can lead to very serious consequences for the development of the country.”

It seems silly to many but it does not to us. We believe in our nation and we have decided to work with it, for it. To find out more information, and see what you can do or how you can help, visit SSECD web site – www.ssecd.org.


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  1. Arziv said:

    To live in Armenia, to fight for Armenia, to struggle for the homeland is not to be measured in currency or dollar terms. Armenia is a mission, is a sacred land to be protected by its owners. The Artsakh hotel manager asks about improvement ? He measures the improvement and advancement and development of the country in terms on how much he makes a month ? If that was the case then forget about Armenia as an ancestral land transcending material values. Armenia is spiritual, is in the blood, not in the bank accounts. Diasporan Armenians fail to see the key factor. Having grown up in an envrionment of iidentyless materialism, their prception of ” development, growth, material enhancements , are the alpha and omegas of their beliefs. The fact that an independent, national, identity recognizable territory can be called Armenia and those living in it can be identified and recognized as such does not enter their compass unless it is measured in economic success and economic gyroscopes. Standards of living in Armenia can never and will never attain ” western standards” for the majority of the population. Neither is one advocating starvation standards. One must be grateful for the blessing of having a homeland in a world growing more complicated by global policies aimed at the destruction of national homelands and their people. The miracle of sardarabad and the miracle of salvaging whatever could be of ancestral Armenia was not crafted, fought and struggled for men and women thinking of ” how much do I make a month”. They were making 0 a month, and there was neither growth nor advancement nor economic incentives, nor hope for ” better tomorrow” , but blood, death, starvation, unbreakable faith , suffering and indescribable sacrifice.

      • Haik Azad said:

        Ardziv lives high in the sky,free of any material constraints,she or he is just pure unadulterated idealism and patriotism-we all wish we could be living like that ,but alas,fery few are chosen ,so please,dig deep down in yer pockets and give to those ungratefuls who think only about how much do I make a month?

    • Armen said:

      I appreciate your sincere love of our homeland, but poor economic condition in Armenia is the main the reason that 1 mil Armenians have left the homeland in the past 20 years. If we don’t have jobs, along with rule of law and democracy, the ugly truth is that no one will be left in Armenia.

    • Haik Azad said:

      Sireli Ardziv,its very easy to assess national identity in the face of the foreign enemy,its harder to define it in terms of internal issues-do you think our national heroes gave everything to defeat the foreign enemy so that the armenians may be exploited by their own politicians,oligarchs and criminals???If you think Armenia is free today you must have your socialist head examined-just look at the number of people leaving their `free and independent` homeland ,before writing crap on the subject.So,the diasporan armenians live in the world of materialism without any identity-which world do you live in Ardziv-high in the sky among the eagles,no material constraints-just pure idealism and pot headed `patriotism`???`People` like you have decimated the number of armenians by a few million ,making them globe trotters and soon thanks to your loony left `socialism` there will be 1million armenians left in their homeland.Your demagogy muddled way of thinking proves the quote that nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.Your `nationalism` is a sham one and its the biggest danger armenians have to face today and any other day.Amot!!!

  2. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    I second Ardziv’s perspective. I would be glad to move to Artsakh if I were not seventy one year old and deeply mired financially here in LA. For patriots like me, life is as good as it gets, in Artsakh.

  3. Tsoghig said:

    When you only make $200 caring about the cultural heritage of your people becomes secondary. First the Artsakhtsis have to stay alive. Unfortunately we have to care more about helping create economic opportunites in Armenia and Artsakh than about anything else. Teaching a man to fish is more important than teaching him where that fish came from and how wonderfuly beautiful it is.