This year, the Armenian people turned the corner on an outdated tradition in which their voices are not heard, their will is not registered, and their sacrifices are not recognized. For the first time in modern history, citizens of the Republic of Armenia gave shape, form, and dimension to their civic and individual rights, responsibilities, and entitlements.
While unprecedented progress was realized in villages, towns and cities across Armenia in breaking the cycles of cynicism and indifference, some have taken the opportunity to characterize the lack of absolute success as absolute failure. More often than not, the sticks and stones have come off the keyboard fingers of those who weren’t there, those who don’t care, and those who won’t dare to make a difference themselves.
The entire illustrious spectrum of named and unnamed political leaders and political parties voted with their two left feet long before and well after Armenia’s February 18, 2013 presidential election.
They decided, for their own defensible and indefensible reasons, to do little to build national consensus and the bridges across which a broad oppositional current could gain momentum. Alas, the popular movement was realized despite the idleness and inactivity of so many naturals who could have been constructively engaged.
One leader was left standing after the dust of everyone’s disengagement had settled, and that leader was Raffi Hovannisian. He stood with hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens on presidential election day February 18th, on inauguration day April 9th, and on mayoral election day May 5th. He stood, stumbled, and got right back up with them again. He became worthy of the powerful words of President Theodore Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Together, Raffi and the Armenian people ushered in this momentous year which, on their watch, saw hope, dignity, and self-worth being returned to the Armenian people. He provided the guiding light, and many chose the right path to freedom. He, along with legions of other devotees of democracy, justice and independence, helped give those defining national treasures back to the ordinary Armenian man, woman, and child, a deliverance which, unlike the near-million votes cast for him, can never be ignored or uncounted.
To be perfectly clear, the authors of this letter are interested individuals, interested in the future of Armenia, interested in Raffi Hovannisian, and interested in truth beyond the puff and punditry which routinely populate cyberspace. We are members of Raffi’s family and among his friends and colleagues.
It’s funny how those who are the quickest to try to project fault on Hovannisian are the ones who did the least to make the current reality any different than what it ultimately became. In fact, by doing so very little, they did so very much to make sure that nothing at all would change.
The naysayers and critics did nothing because most of them were afraid of their own failure and because some were hoping for Raffi’s. He, on the other hand, was not afraid of his own failure and was praying against theirs.
It’s sad how out-of-touch some appear to be with the real-life miracles and positive changes that played out this year through the inspiration and leadership of Raffi Hovannisian. Never before in the history of the republic in its previous election cycles did so many people really, truly believe in themselves as agents of change, worthy of the God-given promises of life and liberty.
For Armenia’s first twenty-two years, these sacred promises have not been well-kept either by those in power or by those who are liberal with their criticism of others and conservative with their circumspection about themselves. We are reminded of and feel compelled to refer to the appropriate lesson from the Scriptures:
And why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3.
It’s wonderful how those who did something good continue to do something good. Raffi did so then, and does so now.
It’s a shame how those who did nothing continue to do nothing unless, of course, dithering on the internet is considered something.
United we did not stand, divided we did fall.
Let’s get it right next time.
Edvin E. Minassian, Esq.
Garo B. Ghazarian, Esq.
Armen K. Hovannisian, Esq.