The Proper Way to Gain the People’s Confidence

A woman casts her ballot during the 2018 parliamentary elections in Armenia
A women casts her ballot during the 2018 parliamentary elections in Armenia

A women casts her ballot during the 2018 parliamentary elections in Armenia

BY LORIG TITIZIAN

Recently I read an article in Asbarez titled “Let Us Not Allow the People to Defeat the Nation” (“Թոյլ Չտալ Որ Ժողովուրդը Յաղթէ Ազգին”) authored by Mako Mgrdichian and published online on January 14 in the Armenian section of Asbarez.

While I am a long-time family friend and respect her as a devoted mother and a dedicated member of the ARS and its worthwhile charitable causes, I find the article extremely offensive to our nation and its people.

The gist of the article is the following:

1. That the Velvet revolution of 2018 , supported by the vast majority of Armenians living on our lands was a HOAX. It was planned by “dark forces” and imposed on our compatriots from the outside.

2. The leader of the movement, Nikol Pashinyan, who later became prime minister, was chosen by “external powers” to execute their agenda and force it upon our countrymen.

3. That our People became drunk with the new slogan of “New Armenia” offered to them by the revolution and thus, naively accepted to live “freely and happily” on their lands .

Thus, the author concludes, the revolution was the work of a Soros conspiracy, that blinded our people and drove us to our present predicament , a defeated nation that has lost territories and human lives, as well as a government that lacks national and cultural identity.

Let me start by saying that people make political choices based on their daily lives and future hopes for a better life. A parent wants always a better life for his or her children.

That is why, unfortunately, in countries where there is no economic opportunity, the young and educated generation leave for Europe and the Americas, where they can advance their full potential and become more productive members of society. The same is true of every Armenian Diasporan community, be that in the Middle East or elsewhere, as well as in Armenia. “Brain drain” as it often is called by the media is a normal but dangerous phenomenon, which we need to resist and for which find solutions at all cost. Therefore, striving for a better life or a happier life is not an abnormal wish.

To avoid the exodus we need to create an Armenia that offers THE PEOPLE a reason to stay and live there happily.

In addition, FREEDOM—or to live freely in a country—is a word that sometimes we take for granted. For those of us who were born and raised in democracies, freedoms like that of the press or speech have been taken for granted. Whereas, in former Soviet republics, which declared independence in the 1990s, the right to free speech, assembly and press, for example, are precious rights worth fighting for.

In the decades since Armenia regained its independence, our PEOPLE have been subjected to all kinds of political subjugation. These governmental pressures have taken the form of election fraud, corruption, favoritism in the education sector, control
of the media, unequal justice in courts and limited opportunity for hard working individuals to achieve economic success. Thus, it is very natural that when you have a popular movement led by a figure who looks and talks like them and promises to change the status quo, people will join in the march and follow the movement.

It is unfortunate that the leaders of the movement turned out to be disappointing and unable to deliver the promises they made. They should be held responsible for any losses both territorial and economic, as well as human lives during and after the war. Change is necessary and the confidence of the people has been lost. So there is no dispute about the need to change the government or demand its resignation.

However, the issue becomes whether the PEOPLE should be held responsible for this situation. Is it fair to declare war against the people, as if our Nation and our people are two separate entities? A nation without its people is meaningless. Moreover, Armenians have a rich history and culture that extends over centuries. As I stated above, people make political choices based on their daily lives and future hopes. Therefore, any blame
addressed to the PEOPLE of Armenia for making a wrong choice is wrong.

The only place where I agree with the article is in its conclusion. It calls for finding new leaders that have stronger national values who will preserve our national identity and territorial integrity. However, even in that conclusion, the new government or leadership must earn the PEOPLE’s trust. It will never succeed if it is forced on them by a group.

Let us stop wasting our time blaming outsiders or “dark forces” for our own shortcomings and errors. It’s time for Armenians both in the homeland and the Diaspora to act more responsibly and secure our Nation’s safety militarily and technologically. Let’s work on building a society that values hard work, respects one other and treats all people fairly and equally. Let’s put an end to corruption and favoritism. Let’s elect leaders who understand democratic values, social justice and, above all, understand that to have a successful nation you need strong government institutions that protect Armenia’s existence and ensure its continuity irrespective of who is elected to office every few years.

Above all let’s make sure that the PEOPLE feel they are part of the solution and that their needs are addressed and their voices are heard. When we achieve that goal, we will have a free independent, united Armenia that will withstand geopolitical pressures despite its small size.

We can do it together if we put aside our egos and work for the PEOPLE.

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