BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
A lot gets done in, for, and around our communities. During the last two or three decades, we’ve also learned to publicize much of this activity fairly well.
Yet, there are lots of worthwhile things happening that never see the light of broad public awareness, despite being very clever, helpful, and interesting.
The case that triggered this realization and article happened a few weeks ago. Through the efforts of primarily two people, it resulted in a letter with some 320 signatures going to the Russian Ambassador to the United States. Accompanying the letter was a lady’s coat. Of course this was meant to make a point about the inappropriate treatment to which an Armenian truck driver was subjected a few weeks back. No doubt you remember the fatal accident, in Russia, which led to the traumatized driver being hauled in front of a judge, clad in a disheveled, ill fitting, garish, woman’s coat. This bit of low-key politicial theater was a great idea. It’s unfortunate it didn’t get more play, thereby having more impact. This type of creativity is great and needs to be supported. Conversely, the astute initiators perhaps should have approached some of our larger, established organizations to broaden participation in the project.
Another example, this one having quite a long history, is the series of book events that Abril bookstore puts together. It’s my understanding that these are not particularly profitable for the bookstore, yet they go on. These gatherings serve to introduce a newly published book, of course. Bibliophiles get to have their copies of the book autographed by the author. Participants get to interact with the author. And, the presence of people with intellectual, rather than Vegas-based, interests leads to interesting conversations and connections being made that can lead to future cooperation and positive outcomes for our community.
Then, there are all the Diasporans who have established a presence in Armenia. These are not just businessmen, or NGO employees, or international institutions’ representatives. It’s all of those and more. They are enabling people in the homeland to work and earn an honest living. They are demonstrating by their very act of return that the country is worth remaining in, despite locals’ cynicism. They are acting as quiet ambassadors of Armenia to families, clans, and circles of friends. This is invaluable, long term, foundation building work. One day, it will come to fruition, and we’ll all be stunned at how great things are, not realizing the yeoman’s work that this particular group of our compatriots did to make that brighter future possible.
The last under-appreciated group I want to acknowledge today is composed of our environmental and civic activists, both in the homeland and Diaspora. The ones I am most familiar with are active on the environmental front. These folks are sticking their necks out, probably risking getting roughed up by the thugs whose leashes are in the hands of the oligarchs who control much of our republic’s life. Those in the Diaspora are striving to raise awareness of the dangers posed by ill-managed mining, insufficient resource conservation, improper sanitary practices, etc. We, in the Diaspora, are accustomed to thinking about the political aspects of Armenian life— liberation of lands, who gets elected president, conditions confronting our compatriots in different host countries. This makes it difficult to explain to people why they should care about mining operations or recycling in Armenia. Of course it’s not just about the environment. The issue could be murder of Vahe Avetian, the “polite” stealing of elections, or the indignity suffered by citizens of the country.
To those engaged in this kind of grueling, non-glamorous work, I say, “Thanks, please continue.” To everyone else I say, “Please heed the words and works of those doing groundbreaking work, support it, and join in.”