Friday, November 5, 2010

Who owes whom?

[Addendum: edited for clarification purposes after posting]

I don't generally like commenting on Diasporan issues though I do from time to time because, frankly, it usually just frustrates and irritates me further. However, I just read a piece on Ianyan Magazine that made me want to post a comment on the article which already has a number of comments. Rather than blather on as a comment there, I thought I'd write my musings here.

The article, in the form of a Letter from the Editor, recounts the editor's interaction with and subsequent musings about an Armenian gentleman. It starts as follows:
“The motherland should be best loved from afar,” a man said to me the other day, “or else it will sting you.”

My reaction to the man's words were immediate, and of course developed further as I read the piece. The man's father was from Cyprus, the man himself had left Armenia in the 90's and moved to Hollywood, and had returned to the US in one year. So the story is not so simple - though we have no other information about him, he seems to have been of a Diasporan lineage that relocated at some point to Armenia, and he relocated back out in the 90s, and tried to go back. Two separate generations of moving to Armenia, which is 2 times more than most Diasporan families.

It seems clear in the article that the man did not necessarily want to leave, and in fact wishes he could have stayed, that he is sad to have (had to?) leave, for whatever reason. And this is a relatively common story on one level or another - families or businesses that try to start or relocate to Armenia meet with so much difficulty in terms of finding jobs or corrupt taxation or bureaucracy, that they end up unable to stay. I am not comparing the hardship of those who do live in Armenia to those who try to relocate. That is irrelevant to my point (which I will get to soon enough), and my purpose is not to compare or judge. There are those who have tried and succeeded in moving from the outside to Armenia, and some who have tried and failed.

What I would like to point out is his wording. To "love the homeland from afar", or "she will sting you." Of course it is a sentence of sadness. And perhaps in this context, thats all there was to it. I was not there for the conversation. The editor ends the article, it seems, curious, wondering, maybe a little sad herself, but saying "its worth the risk." I agree, it is worth it, but that is only the beginning... I would take it much further...

I have been in conversations where similar comments are made about Armenia. And in these contexts, as can be imagined for argument's sake may have occurred in this conversation, there is a sense of hurt. And that hurt is linked to a sense of something having been done to the speaker. Armenia should have been a certain way, it was not, and therefore Armenia caused someone pain/hurt. As though Armenia were a single entity, an entity which owes me, you, Armenians in general.
That is a sense of entitlement. To say, well, Armenia hurt me, so its better to stay far from it (to perhaps abandon it completely as a real place, and leave it only as an idea), to say that I will just glance at it from time to time because it hurt me and wasn't what it was supposed to be, because it did not live up to my ideals, that is entitlement.

And this sentiment was rampant in the 90s in the Diaspora, and is still rampant in a mutated form today. Because Armenia, to so many Diasporans, was and is not a land with an entire population, a people, who live and breathe every day. But rather, Armenia was and is a homeland, a pedestalized (perhaps no longer in the mutated version) 'homeland' where soil is fertile, flowers bloom without bees, streets pave themselves, and all is well and good. Undesired and frowned upon realities of any and all societies - poverty, violence, prostitution, 'immorality' - all those things to which people often say "Amot," the things that of course 'real Armenians' anywhere do not do, they did not exist in Armenia.

That was the imagined, the pedestalized Armenia that so many expected. And of course it fell short.

And so there have been since the early 90s and continue to be comments about Armenia, 'it's dirty, 'it's corrupt'... and stories about thievery and scams that happen to Diasporans... and comments like 'X is just soo bad in Armenia,'...

And when I hear that, what I was reminded of when I read the man's statement in the letter from the editor, is that sense of entitlement.

What I always want to say back when I hear such things, is well, if it so bad, what are you, as a self-identified Armenian, doing to make it better?
How can you possibly feel satisfied with visiting Armenia, leaving and criticizing, and then going back in two years and repeating the cycle all over again?

If you, and I, and all of us, if we are all Armenian, then we are all part of this great idealized nation; Armenia is not just a homeland, but a land of people, of the Armenian people - Armenia IS the people and population of Armenia, with millions of actual Armenians, not just an entity which exists to provide Diasporans with a sense of idealized homeland and a nice vacation spot.

I suppose that is what JFK meant when he said: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

If we truly want to be part of a great nation with a great Homeland, then it is not the Homeland that owes us, but we, as individuals of a nation, that owe and must build the Homeland.

The question of whether it is worth it is easy, but almost irrelevant.

The real question is, can we be worthy of the Armenia of which we all dream?


Hayaser said...

Its been a while since I've posted my comments here. So I hope my comeback is welcomed with open arms regardless of our opinions/thoughts

..."what are you, as a self-identified Armenian, doing to make it better?"...

Apres Tzitz jan, cavt tanem
It's these fake Armenians such as ianyan who publish their condescending thoughts of a homeland from which they take identity from (or lack their of)and think they are better than those of Hayastan. Most of these "diasporans" (to me FAKES) have no clue/idea of what our Hayastan is about, they only know from what their hateful discriminatory anti-Hayastanci parents brainwash them with, and then when they go to my Hayreniq they come back with this..."oh my parents were right, its dirty and everyone is crooked"...well they only see that because they are programmed to see that way, they dont want to see the REAL Armenia, they dont want to see those who work hard and strive to put food on their tables and desperately trying to take care of their families and make Hayastan a better place for themselves and her tourists. Then on top of all of this, these FAKES have this notion of that we stancis rely on them to SAVE Hayastan. That is so not true, we dont need them, we are doing fine with out them. Most money collected/sent to Hayastan goes into pockets of rk/ss/ltp/gago anyway.

All FAKES act as if they are god to Armenia that they will save her from her own tyranny/corruption, well you fakies...where are you? how come you not saving my Hayastan?? or is more like you secretly fund our interntal enemies to keep Hayastan in an oppression/depression state. They can pretend to be who they want us to believe all they want, I see thru all their facades and theatrics. Instead of complaining about Hayastan and change, why are they NOT being that change they complain about on their blogs??

Ghandi ji once said..."instead of complaining about it, be the change you want to see in this world"

Imagine with all their wealth, power, and influence and still they don't do a sh*t for Hayastan, other than some of them move to Hayastan and have it so easy and then sit in their paid-for-in-full aparments and complain about how 'DIRTY' it is in Hayastan. if you dont like it...THEN GET THE "F" OUT you bozi lakots

tzitzernak2 said...

Hayaser jan,
While I do not agree with your vast generalizations, many of your ideas (though there are many ideas we do share) and form of expression, I do agree with some of the points you are trying to make.

While I do not know the editor of Ianyan, I do not think that in this article she was being condescending. In fact, in my read of her article, she was thinking along the same lines that I was writing, and some of the same thoughts you are expressing. And while I have not read all of her articles, and don't know if I agree with all of her viewpoints, I have found her writing to more honest and open than much Armenian writing that I have read in the US.

I do welcome your return, as I welcome all types of appropriately written commentary, and appreciate that it seems you have toned it down a bit - perhaps on your next comment you could tone it down a touch more ;)


P.S. As I have had a few nonpublic confused questions about the article, i will be clarifying it a bit here and there.

Hayaser said...

Tzits jan,
yes she does write about things that others usually dont. she points out few things here & there that are obvious to most, but who turn blind-eyes to it. however, she is a typical parksa who is anti-Hayastanci. I mean really, which fake is not anti-Hayastanci? some of them can pretend to be not, but in reality we know that they are. in the end, it's us vs. them, there will always be a division amongst us, not because we want it...its because 'they' want it. so therefore, they created it and will continue to see to it that it exists until the end of time. lets not forget how they reacted to us in 2008-2009. turning blind eyes to our turmoil and then following year coming out like crying babies to show their hatred & discrimination on us. oh I mean fakes forbid that we open our borders and try to prosper once again...fakes forbid !

I swear as much as they have treated me and my ppl with much hatred & discrimination, I will never forgive them for 2008-2009, this will be never forgotten. they want the world to not forget their genocide, well I wont be forgetting (and forgiving) for their treatment toward us and our homeland

Anonymous said...

Love the post, Tzitzernak jan, but I don't have much to add at this point except you have a typo :)

"Ask now what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

should be

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

That's all ;)

tzitzernak2 said...

Thanks Adrineh for reading and for noticing - I'll fix the typo right now ;)

ianyanmag said...

Thank you for posting such a great commentary, it was refreshing and beautifully written and encourages discussion, which is always a great.

Hayaser - Many of your comments are full of the same hate that you speak of. You are the one who is constantly promoting the idea of "us vs. them." By calling me a "typical parska who is anti-hyastanci" you're making libelous statements that have no foundation in truth whatsoever. We are all working towards a common goal in many ways and these types of diversions are unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Love your post, Tzitzernak.

Armenia is a country like any has its "good" side and "bad" side. Why is it ok to live in the United States and not complain about what is going on in the United States but not ok in Armenia?

Our problem as Armenians has been to "compare" ourselves to others.We like to have what the "jones's" have but we don't want to go through what the "jones's" went through to be the "jones's". Get my drift?

But when it comes to thinking of ways to make Armenia better, we just don't do it.

My hats off to the rallies (by the opposition) that take place in Armenia against the corrupt government in existance today.

I really do not want to hear excuses!

Aziz 55.5