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Old 21.03.2007, 16:49   #1
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
****************************************
ON A COMMON FALLACY
****************************************
Politicians operate like lawyers: it is their job to defend their side at any cost even if their side or client happens to be a serial killer. To this day Talaat, Mussolini, Stalin, and Hitler have their friends in the same way that Lincoln, FDR, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King have their enemies.
*
Most political controversies are based on the assumption “our side speaks the truth, the other side lies.” Translated into dollars and cents, this simply means: my self-interest matters more than your self-interest. Whenever I read an opinion or commentary that assumes this fallacy to be a self-evident truth, I know I am dealing with a dupe and a moral moron.
*
We all know there is a difference between self-interest and self-sacrifice. We look up to heroes and martyrs and down on charlatans and swindlers. A politician is more akin to a charlatan than to an honest man, and propaganda works because there is a swindler in all of us.
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THE VOICE OF WISDOM
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Georges Braque: “Art disturbs, science reassures.”
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Choderlos de Laclos: “Crooks have virtues as honest men have weaknesses.”
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André Gide: “The appetite for knowledge is born in doubt. Stop believing and start learning.”
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Claude Lévi-Strauss: “Wisdom consists not in providing true answer but in asking the right questions.”
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Old 07.04.2007, 18:26   #2
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Thursday, April 05, 2007
**********************************************
VICTIMS AS VICTIMIZERS
************************************
Armenians as victims: I will let more competent and qualified men than myself to deal with that aspect of our history and identity. Armenians as victimizers: that’s what I propose to explore here.
If you are one of those brainwashed dupes who believe, since Armenians can do no wrong, they cannot victimize anyone, allow me to quote two well-known and highly respected sources who cannot be said to be dissidents or anti-establishment critics because, in addition to being members of a political party, they were on friendly terms with a good number of establishment figures in both the Homeland and the Diaspora, among them several bosses, bishops, and benefactors.
Antranik Zaroukian (1912-1989), poet, novelist, critic, editor: “They speak of the cross and nail us to it again as they speak.”
Hagop Garabents (1925-1996), novelist, short story writer, essayist, and Voice of America broadcaster: “Once upon a time we fought and shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech.”
In our context, to be afraid of free speech means, anyone who dares to deal honestly and objectively with facts is ruthlessly silenced and alienated on grounds of anti-Armenianism.
To those who say, at least we don’t victimize others, only ourselves; I say, that’s because the weak cannot victimize the mighty; the weak can victimize only those who are weaker; in the same way that capitalists do not exploit fellow capitalists, only workers.
Before I rest my case, allow me to quote Zaroukian again: “What kind of people are we? What kind of leadership is this? Instead of compassion, mutual contempt; instead of reason, blind instinct; instead of common sense, fanaticism.”
Contempt, blind instinct, fanaticism: that sounds to me less like Armenianism and more like Ottomanism.
And now, listen to one of those silenced and alienated writers speaking:
Stepan Voskanian (1825-1901): “For thirty-five years I did not write a single line in Armenian. I was treated so shabbily by my fellow Armenians that I could not help hating everything that I held dear as a young man; and since I was starved by my own countrymen, I had to write in French in order to survive.”
Next time you lament our victims, I suggest you remember all our victims, not just a fraction of them.
#
Friday, April 06, 2007
****************************************
ON OPTIMISM
*******************************
After contributing an optimistic commentary to one of our weeklies, a friend writes: “I wonder, was I deceiving myself and my readers?”
*
ON INTELLECTUALS
**********************************
Our intellectuals (so-called), whose function is to expose the lies of propaganda, the double-talk of speechifiers and sermonizers, and the shenanigans of those in power, now allow themselves to be feted by bishops, awarded grants by benefactors, and hired by bosses, all the while shedding crocodile tears over our martyrs. “Danger, danger, danger!” (Zarian).
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ARMENIAN ETIQUETTE
***********************************
I have spent a lifetime trying to understand my fellow Armenians. After reading a line or two, a Jack S. Avanakian thinks he has me all figured out as an enemy agent. No one can combine loudmouth stupidity with ignorance and arrogance to the same degree than a phony patriot or a brainwashed dupe “whose tongue is sharper than a Turk’s yataghan.”(Zarian again.)
We have an expression: “We are all Armenians here!” meaning, “Why bother with conventional rules of etiquette when we can revert to our Ottoman ways?” Or, “Why stand on ceremony and say ‘I disagree’ when you can kick him in the groin?”
*
ON REVOLUTIONARIES
**********************************
Our revolutionaries (so-called) are now bourgeois reactionaries whose number one concern is keeping up with the Joneses. The only revolutionary thing about them is their fiery speeches. We have another expression, “chartel, peshrel!” -- literally, “slaughter and smash!” -- that describes the daring of a speechifying revolutionary charlatan.
#
Saturday, April 07, 2007
***************************************
ON THE STUDY OF HISTORY
*******************************************
There are people who study history to prove themselves right and everyone else wrong, and there are others whose purpose is to learn what happened and to understand why it happened. What have we learned from our history? That we are the first nation to convert to Christianity, and the first nation in the 20th Century to be subjected to ethnic cleansing. Which proves that (one) we are better than anyone else, (two) everyone around us is either a bloodthirsty barbarian or a conniving bastard, and (three) everyone who disagrees with us is anti-Armenian.
*
Once in a while I too am called anti-Armenian. If true, then I have some bad news to impart: there are a great many of us out there. So many in fact that all resistance is futile and unconditional surrender is the only option. But I believe the true anti-Armenian is he who thinks his understanding of the past is right because he is infallible. If you are one of them, I say:" You want to understand Turks? Begin with yourself.
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In movies, a happy ending is a happy ending. In life, it’s more likely to be an unhappy beginning.
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Paul Eluard: “The inspiration in a poem is nothing; its power to inspire others is everything.”
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André Malraux: “Being a king is idiotic; making a kingdom – that is what counts.”
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Name a gentleman and there will be at least twenty people who will tell you he is the son of a scoundrel.”
#
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Old 11.04.2007, 17:55   #3
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Sunday, April 08, 2007
***********************************************
EASTER SERMON
***********************************
If Socrates, Jesus, and Gandhi had enemies who hated them unto death, who are we to say we should be immune?
*
One way to explain hatred is to say that we all have our limitations, prejudices, and perspectives that are not results of free choice but conditions beyond our control, such as place of birth and education, which may narrow our vision of the world and our understanding of our fellow men. There will always be something in a devout Christian that will reject all other religions; and there will always be something in a good Armenian that will not like Turks (and vice versa). Our choice is between believing those who legitimize hatred and those who promote understanding.
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There are those who allow their words and actions to be driven by a political agenda, and there are also those who place their own humanity above such agendas. The trouble with nationalism, and all other ideologies and closed systems of thought, like organized religions that claim to have a monopoly on truth, is that ultimately they dehumanize man even if their original aim was the exact opposite. Jesus tried to humanize the rituals and doctrinal paraphernalia of the Old Testament; Marx exposed the sinister power of capital to dehumanize both capitalist and worker, and ultimately society as a whole; and Gandhi attempted to end the “satanic” aspects of colonialism. What happened next we know: Christianity brought forth the Inquisition, religious wars, and the Crusades; Marxism generated Lenin, Stalin, commissars, and the Gulag; and Gandhi’s non-violent campaign against the British was replaced by internecine religious massacres during which millions perished.
*
I am not suggesting here that Armenians and Turks should love one another. What I am saying is, don’t believe everything you are told by sermonizers, speechifiers, and editorializers. The chances are, anyone who has assessed himself to be la crème de la crème is more likely to be la crème de la scum.
*
Generally speaking, it is safe to assume that people who are themselves in need of understanding are in no position to understand others. On the other hand – there is always another hand when it comedy to understanding and explaining – on the other hand, manure and roses are not mutually exclusive concepts, and no one (in the words of the Mahatma) is beyond redemption. Amen.
#
Monday, April 09, 2007
****************************************
LAW AND DISORDER
*************************************
Denis Diderot: “The more reasonable a man is, the more honest he is bound to be.”
*
The difference between serial killers and tyrants is that tyrants operate within the law. It follows, the law has produced more dangerous criminals than the underworld.
*
Only the naïve, the uninformed, and the inexperienced with a single-digit IQ are astonished when managers mismanage, leaders mislead, liberators oppress, and pundits are hired to convince the people that the nation is in good hands and there is nothing to worry about.
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All it takes for an Armenian to be an expert on Armenian history and culture is to have heard of Saroyan, to recognize the “Saber Dance,” and to know the number of Genocide victims.
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I have yet to meet the Armenian who underestimated his intelligence or patriotism. “I know better” is the subtext of all criticism and contradiction. Socrates never said “I know better.” What he said was, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.” Philosophy is a Greek word that means love of wisdom, and love of wisdom does not mean possession of wisdom; rather, it means search for wisdom or perpetual rejection of ignorance. It follows, he who is infatuated with his own ignorance cannot be said to be a philosopher.
*
I repeat myself? Only people who read me regularly would know that.
*
I repeat myself? If that’s a problem, it has a very easy solution.
#
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
*****************************************
LA CRÈME DE LA SCUM
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I am fully aware of the fact that I will never be able to convince anyone who thinks he knows better because he has more money or power. Power corrupts: only the powerful pretend to be unaware of this fact. Either that or they think corruption is one of the privileges of power.
*
To those whose favorite sport is the blame-game, I ask: "If we deceive ourselves, whom do we blame?"
*
Turks are not exactly a popular subject among us. If they have become so in our press it may be because they are safe to attack; and if we don’t blame all our problems on them, we may have to redirect our focus on other and more vulnerable players, such as the incompetence of our “betters,” who may well be our worst.
#
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
**************************************
FROM MY DIARY
**********************
To those who want to know how many times I have been to Armenia, I say: “Why should I travel all the way there to starve when I can just as well starve here?”
*
When a charlatan calls me a charlatan, I conclude that (a) he is smart enough to know the meaning of the word, and (b) he is too dumb to know he is one.
*
We think of temptation as a negative word; but it can also be used in a positive context, as when one is tempted to be honest, to speak the truth, to do the right thing if one operates within a power structure where deception is the norm.
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In the editorial of our local paper today I read: “A bush league is a minor, often second-rate sports organization that, like fungus, grows most successfully away from the biggest crowds and brightest light.” A good definition of our leadership.
*
On the same page, a letter to the editor suggests the only way to end wars is to let the politicians do the fighting. You may have noticed that the most ardent patriots among us happen to be speechifiers, sermonizers, and editorializers, that is to say, charlatans whose chances of going to war are nil.
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Elsa Triolet: “Always and never – one is as long as the other.”
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Pierre Reverdy: “Barriers are the best and surest bonds between people.”
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Victor Hugo: “Half a friend is half a traitor.”
#
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Old 14.04.2007, 17:44   #4
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Thursday, April 12, 2007
*******************************************
ON TURCOCENTRISM
********************************
Turcocentrism is a pathological condition that should be analyzed and studied like any other psychological aberration, objectively and on a tabula rasa.
*
The central tenet of Turcocentrism is the proposition that Genocide recognition is the most important issue in our collective existence today. It follows, all our other problems, such as exodus from the Homeland, assimilation in the Diaspora (two ongoing “white massacres”), divisiveness, corruption, and incompetence within our tribal power structures, can be safely ignored or covered up on the grounds that if ignored they will go away.
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Like most primitive societies, we tend to confer on an opinion the status of a belief system, and like all belief systems, Turcocentrism has become an orthodoxy with its own heresies (about which see below).
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A Turcocentric newspaper is one in which every other headline has the word Turk in it.
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Turcocentrics believe as long as Turks refuse to recognize the Genocide, we shall have no peace, no inner balance, no closure (whatever that may mean), no other concerns, and no other initiatives.
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A Turcocentric Armenian is an “oreo” Armenian – that is, he is Armenian on the outside, Turkish on the inside. Which is why, the Armenianism of Turcocentrism is more akin to Ottomanism.
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Turcocentric Armenians divide the community by asserting, “You are either with me or against me,” and “If you are against me, you are against the Cause,” and “If you are against the Cause you are a traitor.” On more than one occasion I have myself been accused of being a foreign agent who gets his marching orders from Ankara.
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Turcocentric Armenians are more dependent on Turkish goodwill today than their forefathers in the Ottoman Empire were on the goodwill of the Sultan.
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The Turcocentric Armenian has a counterpart among Turks – the Armenocentric Turk who believes there is an Armenian assassin lurking behind every bush, Kurds are Armenians in disguise, and Ocalan is an “Ermeni pij” (an Armenian bastard).
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Like all primitive belief systems, Turcocentrism has its devils – two of them, as matter of fact: (one) denialist Turks, and (two) Armenians who dare to suggest that, very much like the kingdom of god, the kingdom of the devil is within us.
#

Friday, April 13, 2007
************************************
REVOLUTIONARIES, COMMISSARS,
CHIC BOLSHEVIKS & TURCOCENTRIC PUNDITS
******************************************************************
At the turn of the last century we had revolutionaries who thought they could do no wrong because the civilized world was on their side. During the Soviet era we had commissars in the Homeland and chic Bolsheviks in the Diaspora who believed the Soviet Union was here to stay for a thousand years and the Russians could do no wrong because they were our Big Brothers (in the non-Orwellian sense of these words). And now we have Turcocentric pundits who think they know all there is to know about Turks. How? On what grounds? By projection, of course!
*
After projecting the worst in themselves on Turks, these charlatans believe they know all there is to know about them and they thus qualify as experts on Armeno-Turkish relations. They seem to be unaware of the fact that understanding by projection is a notoriously unreliable method of perception not only of others but also of oneself, if only because by projecting the worst in themselves they may think they have also exorcised the Turk within.
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Understanding and exorcising by projection: If only life were that simple!
*
There are good Armenians and there are good Turks, and if it were up to them, all our differences would have been resolved many years ago to the satisfaction of both sides. But to hope that from the confrontation of two sets of charlatans something good may emerge is to believe in miracles, and I for one am no longer big on miracles.
*
A final note on our revolutionaries, commissars, chic Bolsheviks, and Jack S. Avanakians: Have you ever heard any one of them apologize for misleading the nation? Are they capable of admitting error? In what way are they different from their counterparts?
#
Saturday, April 14, 2007
********************************************
ON SCIENTISTS, THEOLOGIANS,
MEN OF FAITH, AND OTHER RASCALS
****************************************************
Gods are a dime a dozen.
*
Once when Einstein said something to the effect that god did not play at dice, another physicist said: “Einstein, stop telling god what to do.”
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Theologians are people who hate to say I don’t know, I don’t understand, and I don’t know what I am talking about.
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Someone once wrote a book titled GOD IS AN ENGLISHMAN, which is a big lie. Everyone knows god is an Armenian.
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I don’t know much about Islam but I know that in the eyes of the average Muslim I am no better than an infidel dog.
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I am acquainted with several Turcocentric fascists and I know that in their eyes I am worse than an infidel dog.
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Had I been Moses’ editor, the Decalogue would have only one commandment: “Thou shalt not allow yourself to be brainwashed.”
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If I were a dictator, I would order theologians to stop dealing with abstractions and start dealing with facts by counting the number of victims god has claimed on earth.
#
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Old 21.04.2007, 18:02   #5
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Thursday, April 19, 2007
******************************************
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
**************************************************
We have become such compulsive players of the blame-game that it doesn’t even occur to us to ask the most important of all questions: Where did we go wrong? Were we justified in trusting the Russians, the Great Powers, and the Young Turks? Was our trust in them based on historic precedent or propaganda? Was our optimism a result of objective analysis or wishful thinking?
My purpose in raising these questions is not to find fault with our past conduct – after all, what’s done is done and cannot be undone – but to ask, how justified are we when we predict the future by saying such things as, it will take two or three generations for our blood****ers to see the light and behave like servants of the people? Or, how justified are we in sinking millions on our anti-Turkish campaign in the hope that, since historic Armenia was ours 600 years ago, it will be ours again in the near or distant future because a fraction of the civilized world is with us? Or again, how justified are we in placing our trust in the verbiage of our bosses, bishops, benefactors, and Turcocentric baloney artists?
Another reason I ask these questions is that, if we want to convince the Turks to behave with some degree of honesty and decency, we must first put our own house in order. If we want to educate that fraction of the so-called civilized world that is not with us, we must begin by educating ourselves. If we want others to do the right thing, the least we can do is refrain from doing the wrong thing.
#
Friday, April 20, 2007
************************************
AN ESSAY THAT COMES WITH A WARNING
***********************************************************
In what follows I speak only for myself and all those who brought me up to hate Turks. Repeat: none of the sentiments and thoughts expressed here applies to our Turcocentric pundits and miscellaneous baloney artists who, very much like all baloney artists, speak with a forked tongue when they say they hate no one, they only ask for what is theirs.
*
What does it take to understand a nation? The jury of historians and psychologists is out on that one, because, like individuals and human nature in general, nations are bundles of contradiction. They harbor within them the best and the worst. It is the easiest thing in the world to love or hate them by selecting and cataloguing their crimes or selfless heroic deeds and triumphs over adversity – an academic field of enquiry favorite by nationalist historians.
It may be flattering to our vanity to divide mankind into two, the good (us and our friends) and the bad (our enemies and their partisans). But how objective or valid is it? If we paint ourselves all white and our enemies all black, we shouldn’t be surprised if they do the same. Do we judge Germans by Bach and Beethoven or by Hitler and the Holocaust?
By repeating ad nauseam as we do that we are the victims and they are the victimizers, we may eventually end up convincing ourselves that we can do no wrong even as we behave like swine.
Zohrab observes somewhere that there are as many kinds of Armenians as there are environments in which they live. So that an Ottomanized Armenian and a Frenchified Armenian are as different from one another as a Turk is from a Frenchman – assuming of course there is such a thing as a typical Turk or Frenchman.
“Betrayed by an Armenian, he was saved by a Turk.” I remember to have heard or read this sentence somewhere in reference to Gomidas (Komitas) Vartabed. To make sure my memory is not deceiving me, I consult a recent biography, where I read the following: “Komitas’s opponents [among them Patriarch of Istanbul Ghevont Turian] contacted the Turkish secret police and falsely accused him of including politically subversive songs in his concert program.” (Rita Soulahian Kuyumjian, ARCHEOLOGY OF MADNESS: KOMITAS – PORTRAIT OF AN ARMENIAN ICON [Princeton, NJ], Gomidas Institute, page 74.)
Speaking of religious faith, Sartre says somewhere: “We believe that we believe, but we don’t believe." Likewise, we may believe that we understand Turks and Armenians, but we don’t.
#
Saturday, April 21, 2007
*******************************************
WHY I WRITE THE WAY I WRITE
************************************************
Whenever I see someone’s two cents’ worth on my monitor, I am provoked into posting my own one-cent’s worth. If that’s vainglorious, I plead guilty as charged.
*
There are many good Armenians, concerned readers remind me once in a while, but I keep harping on the bad ones thus projecting a bad image. Image is a PR concern and I have no desire to muscle in their territory. My concern is elsewhere. My concern is the nation’s direction. If you read our writers from Khorenatsi (5th century) to Zarian (20th) you may notice they too were concerned with the same thing.
*
Good Armenians exist in the same way that good Turks do. But these good men are not represented in Yerevan and Ankara. There may even be good bosses, bishops, and benefactors, but they are as much at the mercy of their bad counterparts as the rest of us who are in no position to change the direction of our collective destiny.
*
Those who oppose the war in Iraq today are convinced the Bush administration is ego-driven, misinformed, and wrong, in addition to being corrupt and incompetent. That doesn’t mean everyone in the executive branch is rotten. None of us can predict the future. If tomorrow or next month or year the Middle East is democratized, I am sure everyone will rejoice – everyone, including those who oppose the surge today. Likewise, if one of these days or before I drop dead, our leaders see the light and change direction, I will be the happiest Armenian alive. But until then I will continue to be critical of our charlatans and dupes who in the name of misguided patriotism try to convince us we are in good hands and Turks are the source of all evil.
*
Finally, I don’t write against anyone. I write against the self-centered, prejudiced ignoramus that I was, and according to some of my gentle reader, I still am.
*
Because I speak of tolerance I am accused of being intolerant. Because I speak against the knee-jerk anti-Turkism of our Turcocentric pundits, I am accused of being anti-Armenian. That’s not criticism. That’s infantile nonsense. And remember: bad leaders have ruined empires; bad writers – in addition to being unreadable -- have harmed no one but themselves.
#
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Old 25.04.2007, 18:25   #6
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Sunday, April 22, 2007
****************************************
WANTED: A MESSIAH
**********************************
Those who see the best in themselves will tend to see the worst in others. We all need scapegoats. Turks are ours, and we are theirs. Naregatsi – our Dante and Shakespeare combined – saw the worst in himself but the best in God, who, he said, would forgive all his sins not because he deserved His forgiveness but because His love knew no bounds. And then there are those who say, we all swim in the same soup; there is good and evil in all of us. It’s all a question of perspective. Talaat is a statesman of vision to them and the worst villain that ever crawled between heaven and earth to us. Or, as the African chieftain is quoted as having said to C.G. Jung: “When my enemy steals my wives, it’s bad. When I steal his, it’s good.”
Sometimes I am told I am on the wrong path, my efforts are misguided. I should change my style, way of thinking, and attitude towards my fellow Armenians. Instead of seeing the worst in them I should see the best, emphasize the good, stress the positive, ignore the negative. I find it hard to believe that we have failed as a nation because our writers failed in their mission. The history of our literature goes back 1500 years during which we have produced an astonishing variety of writers, some of whom, like Khorenatsi, pointed out our shortcomings, others saw the best in us (Abovian), still others (like Baronian and Odian) saw the worst; and then there is Raffi, who saw the best as well as the worst. Even more revealing is the case of Zarian, who began his brilliant literary career by calling us the real chosen people and concluded it by saying we survive by cannibalizing one another.
Do we really need a messianic figure with a new style and belief system that will set us on the right path? Speaking for myself, I don’t believe in messiahs and quick fixes. I believe in self-criticism more than in criticism. This may explain why sometimes I am perceived as anti-Armenian and pro-Turkish. To be misunderstood, rejected, silenced, and ignored: so what else is new?
#
Monday, April 23, 2007
******************************************
A BATTLE ON TWO FRONTS
****************************************
Questions that I ask myself whenever I sit down to write: “Why bother? What’s the use? Why go on? To what end? What have I accomplished so far?” And the tentative answer that I come up with: “I am not sure. I have no idea…unless it is to let those in power know that they may fool most of the people most of the time, but there will always be one or two who will refuse to be taken in by their nonsense, even if the two happen to be a minor scribbler and his mother living in the middle of nowhere.”
*
My mother has known all along that writing is a waste of time. In retrospect, I have to agree with her. I know now I would have been more useful to my fellow men had I been a carpenter or a bus driver. Or a travel agent. That’s what my mother wanted me to be, a pilot or a travel agent. She loves going places and I don’t even drive. The only two places that I visit regularly are the library and the church – both within walking distance. I go to church not to pray but to carry on a love affair with the organ works of J.S. Bach.
*
There are some things that one is destined to understand only at the end of one’s life. Youth is a time for daydreams and megalomania. I know now that a writer doesn’t have much of a chance because his war is a battle on two fronts: (one) against those in power, their hirelings, and dupes; and (two) the philistines in whose eyes writers, poets, philosophers, and intellectuals in general are at best daydreamers and at worst mental masturbators.
*
Who is to blame for World War II and the Holocaust? Most people will say, Hitler and the Nazis. Strangely enough, Thomas Mann put part of the blame on German literature. Unlike their French counterparts, German writers, he said, had spent more time exploring their inner life and less time on social issues. As a result, the German people had lacked the sophistication and political awareness to see the Nazis for what they were – not the future saviors of the nation but its destroyers. True or false? False, according to a French contemporary of Mann, who concluded his memoirs with the words: “Literature saves no one,” and “…no man is ever anything but a swindle.” (See Jean-Paul Sartre, THE WORDS.)
#
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
************************************
THE TRIUMPH OF MEDIOCRITY
*********************************************
Nothing can be more misleading than to approach reality with received or preconceived notions, especially notions cunningly and carefully chosen by those in power to flatter our collective ego and to cover up their mediocrity. If you want to understand your fellow Armenians or, for that matter, your fellow men, begin with yourself and forget what you were taught as a child. The first step in all learning is unlearning.
Instead of bragging about being the first nation to convert to Christianity, ask yourself: “How good a Christian am I?” Next question to ask: if our ruling classes saw the light and converted to Christianity at the beginning of the 4th Century, they just as readily saw the darkness and converted to atheism in the 20th. What are we to make of that?
By teaching us to brag, our leaders hope to convince us we are in good hands and we have nothing to worry about, when the exact opposite is the case.
We brag about our survival in order to forget that most of us, including the best and the brightest, did not survive.
If we assume the invisible and hostile forces of history (assuming of course such forces are not within us but in a realm beyond our reach and control), had targeted us for extinction but only a few of us managed to survive, we could just as easily assume that, with less mediocre, corrupt, incompetent, and divided leaders not seven but seventy million of us could have survived. Very probably there are more than seventy million Armenians today, but most of them prefer to identify themselves as Americans, Hungarians, Italians, Bulgarians, Russians, even Kurds and Turks.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there is something fundamentally wrong with our DNA. We are people like any other people. We have produced many great leaders, even leaders of mighty empires, and I don’t mean Dikran, the so-called,“Great” and his Mickey Mouse ephemeral empire. Oswald Spengler, one of the greatest historians of the 20th century has called such an Armenian leader (Basil I, founder of the greatest dynasty in the Byzantine Empire) “a Napoleonic figure.” And Toynbee, the other great historian of our time, has written a huge scholarly biography of Basil’s son and successor, Constantine Porphyrogenitus.
What I am saying here is that, where mediocrities are in charge, excellence will be persecuted; where crooks are in charge, honesty will be anathema; where fascists are in charge, the rule of law and accountability will be seen as unpatriotic; and where the unprincipled are in charge, opportunism will be the norm.
#
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
************************************
IDEAS IN HISTORY
******************************
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were Greeks; the prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus were Jewish. And yet, the history of Greeks and Jews has been a concatenation of defeats, tragedies, and oppression. Now then, go ahead and blame Khorenatsi and Naregatsi, or Raffi, Baronian, and Zarian for all our problems.
*
Trying to change a situation without first understanding it is like trying to put out a forest fire with a bottle of soda water.
*
Some people have been traveling on the road of dishonesty for such a long time that honesty appears to them as cynicism, objectivity as charlatanism, and straight talk as venom.
*
If Turkish denialists question the reality of the Genocide, we deny the depth of our malaise. There are those who think, if a handful of dedicated individuals with good intentions get busy within our communities, we have an excellent chance to extricate ourselves from the abyss. Inevitably, they reach the conclusion that things are not as easy as they thought they would be and they give up in disgust. Their line of thinking goes something like this: If I can be more useful to my fellow men in an alien environment, why bother with a bunch of ingrates who, in Zarian’s assessment, “survive by cannibalizing one another”?
*
Instead of saying my assessment of our present situation is inaccurate, they call me, at best, a pessimist, and, at worst, a charlatan.
*
The trouble with being brainwashed is that you become fixed in your thinking; you cannot move ahead or go beyond of what you think you think, and when it comes to thinking, what matters above all is going beyond and moving ahead.
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Old 25.04.2007, 21:05   #7
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Well Ara I don't think anyone gives a flying damn about what you write in here. How about you register a blog and those who are interested in this kind of stuff would check it out or subscribe to your RSS? Try www.blogger.com - it's Google and it rocks!

Otherwise you might want to get in touch with other bloggers who are interested in these things and post under your name in other blogs that are popular before launching your own. I think that makes sense. Don't you?
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Old 28.04.2007, 18:22   #8
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Thursday, April 26, 2007
*******************************************
ON IDEALS AND THEIR ABUSERS
*********************************************************
To some misguided patriots, nationalism may appear as a noble, even a necessary, ideology; but like all ideologies (from Christianity to Marxism) it has had and will continue to have its share of abusers and perverts. Talaat was a nationalist, Stalin a Marxist, and Torquemada a Christian. Does that mean we should suspect all ideals and principles? Of course not! What we should suspect is power, doubletalk, and propaganda. That’s where critics come in, and that’s why brainwashed dupes are their greatest adversaries.
*
All power is suspect; but even more suspect is the apathy of the average, well-intentioned, law-abiding citizen who thinks he is in good hands, and that those in power will leave him alone as long as he doesn’t dirty his hands by getting involved in politics. The root of all major tragedies may be traced to this mindset.
*
The reason why I target Armenians rather than Turks for criticism is that there are better men than myself engaged in criticizing their fellow Turks. Another reason, attacking Turks has become a lucrative sport with our Turcocentric pundits and academics, whose aim is not so much to expose Turkish criminal conduct but to cover up our own.
#
Friday, April 27, 2007
*****************************************
PAST AS PROLOGUE
*******************************
A few years ago Church Unity was the hot topic in our press. There was an endless stream of commentaries, polemics, and letters to the editor. Everybody was for it, it seems. Both proponents of unity and the two sides in the controversy agreed that unity was an important goal and the sooner it was reached the better for all concerned. In the end nothing was done because both sides kept stonewalling. As a result, the controversy died down not to rise again. I suspect something similar will happen to the Genocide issue. It’s our style – the Ottoman way.
*
OLD TIME RELIGION
**********************************
In a democratic environment there are investigative reporters and the loyal opposition whose combined job is to contradict, criticize, and expose corruption within the executive branch. Where are our investigative reporters? Where is our loyal opposition? Throughout our millennial existence, did we ever have them? When some of my gentle readers identify me as an enemy of the people who takes his marching orders from Ankara, what they really mean is, we have no use for democracy and free speech. The Ottoman way is good enough for us.
#
Saturday, April 28, 2007
*****************************************
BEN BAGDIKIAN ON U.S. MEDIA
****************************************************
“Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach’s SAINT MATTHEW PASSION on a ukulele.”
*
“The central function of journalism is to permit a more valid view of reality.”
*
“Arguers against change like to say, 'You can’t legislate morals,' but it is hard to convince me that authority figures can’t evoke more humane attitudes, just as they obviously do the opposite.”
*
“Our major media probably offer the narrowest range of ideas available in any developed democracy.”
*
One point in favor of the American press: it has produced a major investigative reporter like Ben Bagdikian. Now then, name if you can a single Armenian journalist – and I don’t mean ghazetaji. I could name several who were rudely silenced by mediocrities whose “greatest enemy is free speech” (Zarian).
#
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Old 02.05.2007, 06:56   #9
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No Silver it's interesting. I always wondered why Ara had posted his writtings in some of Armenian forums but not here.

So it haapened in 2007.

And it is interesting for me the way administrators and moderators are going to ban him for his so-called "anti-Armeniaism".

But before that I would like to quote a little bit:

Quote:
Originally Posted by arabaliozian
But I believe the true anti-Armenian is he who thinks his understanding of the past is right because he is infallible.
Yes discussion is important. Discussion of our past is more than important, it is obligatory. At least because of we were (and still are) on the way of "loosing" for more than a thousand years.
But how to start that discussion? How to make people think of their past. Think and criticize when needed. I do not the answer. Plus I am kind of pessimistic about Armenians. Armenians I think are "past-worshipers" that makes a possibility of that discussion impossible.

I understand that in general people do not discuss their basements. The thing we call axioms (axiom set). On the other hand world had reached the scientific, cultural and spiritual highs just because some people had argued their axioms. This is something we understand thus we are not as practical as to make this happen.

And more about Turks and Armenians.
A few days before I took a look at "Who Are Turks" by Justin McCarthy and Caroline McCarthy.
For those who do not know it is a official book for Turkey to teachs young turks at their schools. It is a manual for teachers.
I would like to discuss a little part of it here.

The original home of the Armenians was in Eastern Anatolia and the southern Caucasus, but they had been migrating to other parts of the Middle East and elsewhere for centuries, and a small Armenian kingdom is existed in Cilicia.

That is all talks. I set red and did not understand
1. what is wrong in this information.
2. what is missing in this information.

1. there is nothing wrong in this, because the information states the place of our homeland and origin.
2. there is also nothing missing because it already stated in whole manual that Turks conquered the land. Thus Armenians lost the battle and the war.


P.S. Summarizing I would like to note that we are still sure that Turks teach their youth that modern Turkey was the homeland of ethnic Turks.
This is the simple proof of our axiom's vulnerability.

Stay in peace Ara.
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Old 02.05.2007, 18:05   #10
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Sunday, April 29, 2007
****************************************
THAT WHICH MAKES US WHAT WE ARE
********************************************************
Being a human being is a privilege as well as a responsibility. Being a member of a group – be it club, party, tribe, nation – promotes a herd mentality, which means, it allows one to behave like swine with a clear conscience.
*
We have been divided, conquered, and ruled so often and for such a long time that dividing ourselves has become part of our behavioral DNA to such a degree that most of us see nothing wrong or remotely questionable in it. Even when no one divides us, we divide ourselves. I will know things are about to change only when we reverse this trend. Until then I will consider all talk of progress as empty verbiage whose sole intent is to deceive the deaf, blind, and stupid.
*
Explanations may be transferable, understanding is not.
*
For everyone who says one thing, there will be another who says something else or the exact opposite. Next time you meet a boss, bishop, or benefactor, ask him why he belongs or prefers to support group A rather than group B. You may notice that he will parrot received ideas and clichés. That’s one reason why I suspect anyone who places his nationality or ideology ahead of his humanity.
#
Monday, April 30, 2007
*************************************
PROFILE OF A GOOD ARMENIAN
***********************************************
The more patriotic an Armenian, the more clearly defined his views on what it means to be a good Armenian; and no one can be as intolerant as an Armenian with clearly defined black-and-white views who believes truth and God to be on his side.
*
An intolerant Armenian is a dogmatic and self-righteous Armenian of the you-are-either-with-me-or-against-me variant; and if you are against me you might as well pro-Turkish. Such an Armenian is a divider. His nationalism is disguised tribalism, and his patriotism a sham. And here is the irony: an intolerant Armenian is an Ottomanized Armenian, and an Ottomanized Armenian is an oxymoron (emphasis on the last two syllables). Which simply means, he is neither Armenian nor Ottoman. He is as programmed and fixed in his views and reactions as a robot. When he thinks, he doesn’t feel; and when he feels, he doesn’t think.
*
An authentic Armenian is also an authentic human being. Think of the profound humanity, even universality, of our folk songs, liturgical music, and religious architecture that date back to a time when we were free and not yet contaminated by Ottoman venom and Levantine filth.
*
When asked by English friends if he was really an Armenian, Michael Arlen is quoted as having said (I quote from memory): “Who would want to identify himself as an Armenian [or make such a painful admission] if it weren’t true?”
*
The thought that comes naturally to all Armenians: “If he is Armenian, he is sure to be second rate.” Or, “If he is one of us, he is bound to be a loser and a mediocrity.” Which may explain why someone of Oshagan’s stature dismissed Zarian as a plagiarist without providing a single shred of evidence. And when Shahnour, quoting chapter and verse, proved Siamanto to be a plagiarist and Zartarian a second-rater, he was accused of being anti-Armenian and at one point publicly thrashed by superior type patriots. That’s what I call Ottomanism in action.
*
Please note that everything I have said so far is based on self-analysis. If it doesn’t apply to you, feel free to consider yourself a good Armenian, an exemplary human being, and a role model.
#
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
****************************************
THE PUNCH LINE
*****************************
If you want to know what it means to be an Armenian, read our writers, the explorers of our psyche. As for the sermons of our bishops and speeches of our bosses and their assorted hirelings, they all lead to the same predictable punch line, “mi kich pogh oughargetsek” (send us a little money).
What happens to the money after they get it? Only they know. Accountability is not in our DNA. Once, when an editor in Los Angeles exposed the corruption within one of our political parties, he was beaten within an inch of his life.
I wonder how some of my readers would react if I were to add that punch line to everything I write. My guess is, they will tell me to shut up, mind my own business, and leave them alone. They are saying as much now, when it hasn’t even crossed my imagination to make any demands on them. In their view, there is only one thing wrong with our community life, namely, malcontents like me who have an eye only for the negative.
Corruption? Sure, we have our share of it, who doesn’t?
Incompetence? Ditto.
Critics? Well, yes, they too are everywhere, but we’d rather not have them, you see. We’d rather not be reminded we are people like any other people. We’d much rather be told we are special, we are unique, and we have nothing to worry about because we are in good hands.
When on the eve of the Genocide, Krikor Zohrab predicted the coming catastrophe, he wasn’t believed. “Zohrab effendi is exaggerating,” they said. If the Great Powers of the West and the Good Lord are on our side, what could possibly go wrong?
The support of the Great Powers was of course only verbal, and the Good Lord has at no time shown any inclination to interfere in our affairs, but we prefer to be brainwashed to believe otherwise and to ignore, and whenever possible, to silence the pessimists who see only the dark side of things.
Please note that, seven years after the Genocide, history repeated itself. Armenians of Smyrna were brainwashed by their bishop to believe they had nothing to worry about and that Ataturk was a friend. And what was bound to happen, happened.
Who was that particular bishop and what happened to him? As they say, thereby hangs a tale. He was none other then the very same Ghevont Tourian (1879-1933), (brother of poet Bedros Tourian) who had betrayed Gomidas Vartabed to the Turkish secret police. In the SOVIET-ARMENIAN ENCYCLOPEDIA (volume 3, page 462) we read the following: “Because of his patriotic activities, Tourian was persecuted by members of the ARF (Tashnagtsoutiun) and knifed to death on 24 December 1933 in the Holy Cross Church of New York.”
#
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
****************************************
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
******************************************
Gentle reader:
If you have had enough of my nonsense, please feel free to spam or block me. It’s easy – all it takes is a fraction of a second. No need to ask me to remove your name from my address book when your name has at no time been there to begin with. Nothingness cannot be removed. Thank you! / ara
*
ON THE ROLE OF INTELLECTUALS
*************************************************
Where fascists enter, intellectuals exit.
*
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Everyone is familiar with this line from the Bible. It’s not only common knowledge, it’s also common sense – the least common of all faculties, it has been said. For 1500 years our intellectuals have been trying to convince our leadership that “solidarity is the mother of good deeds, divisiveness of evil ones” (Yeghishe). And yet, we stand as divided today as we were in the 5th Century. This may explain why even our-dime-a-dozen pundits are smart enough to concentrate their efforts on reasoning with Turks: deep down they know they have a better change with them than with our own.
*
The role of intellectuals? Sound and fury signifying nothing. I rest my case. Nothing further, your honor!
*
A final question: Why go on writing when the written word will change nothing? Can anyone in his right mind be megalomaniacal enough to entertain the hope that what he says or writes matters in our environment? Has anyone of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors ever come close to admitting to have been on the wrong track or to have behaved not as a servant of the people or of God but as a Master accountable to none but himself?
*
The role of intellectuals? Unmask the swindlers and even if you give them insomnia for a fraction of a second, consider your mission accomplished.
*
I quoted Yeghishe (circa 410-470 AD) above. Allow me to quote him again if I may:
*
“We may not be allowed to question the integrity of princes, but neither should we praise men who pit themselves against the Will of God.”
*
“In the same way that a man cannot serve two masters, a nation cannot have two kings. If a nation is ruled by two kings, both the kings and their subjects will perish.”
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Old 02.05.2007, 18:06   #11
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dear moderator:
if you find my things unsuitable for this forum, please feel free to remove my name from the list or spam/block me.
thank you for your patience. / ara
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Old 11.08.2007, 05:23   #12
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I think your things are most suitable for this forum , we need some honesty and reality
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Old 03.09.2007, 19:05   #13
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"Arabaliozian" atleast I appreciate your views; only a small suggestion make them more absolute, I think you must have got me; if not then I want to say your views touch a greater depth and subjects which comprises a much broader span of the system , for sure more than you've taken into account.
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Old 05.09.2007, 17:58   #14
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Sunday, September 02, 2007
**************************************************
SUSPICIOUS BUGGERS
***************************************
For a good number of years my Ramgavar relatives and friends thought I was a Tashnak, and my Tashnak friends kept their distance because they thought I had gone to the highest bidder. The first time my anti-partisan stance was questioned, I was outraged. Now, whenever an Armenian believes what I say, I immediately assume I am dealing with a brown-noser who wants his book reviewed or translated. Living among Armenians does that to you. It’s easier for an Armenian to understand Turks than fellow Armenians. I have never heard an Armenian say, “I don’t understand these Turks.” But every other Armenian is convinced anyone who disagrees with him has something of the renegade and the traitor in him – he is, in short, an enemy of the nation, perhaps even a Kemal-worshiping hireling of Ankara.
*
The problem with Abel was that he trusted Cain; and the problem with Cain was that he was an anti-Semite, the first of the species, if you don’t count the serpent. About the real identity of the serpent, there are a number of theories. If you ask an anti-American Armenian from the Middle East or a crypto-Stalinist from the former Soviet Union, he will tell you the serpent was a CIA agent, perhaps even a McCarthyite.
*
De Gaulle once complained that Frenchmen were difficult to govern because they produce 174 varieties of cheese. He should have counted his blessings. It’s a well-known fact that whenever two Armenians are stranded on a desert island, they build three churches, the third being the one they don’t go to.
#
Monday, September 03, 2007
***********************************************
ON BIAS
******************************
As children we are taught a set of rules. As adults we discover that others have been taught different sets of rules. Still others recognize no rules, or if they do, they are more readily disposed to break them with an easy conscience.
*
More often than not the certainties that are instilled in us do not even qualify as lies or fallacies; they are no better than absurdities. Consider the certainties in the name of which we are willing to kill and die: I belong to a superior race; I am a member of the chosen race; my god is the only true god; the mud of my homeland is better than any other mud, including the mud on the other side of the mountain or river. But there are other absurdities that we are not even taught but which we take for granted, such as, I am the center of the world. There you have the source of all bias.
*
If your certainties outnumber your doubts, you may more easily qualify as a barbarian than a civilized man.
*
The relation between what we say and what we think is about the same as that which exists between who we are and what we pretend to be.
*
If I am wrong, I will be the first beneficiary. If I were a believer, I would go down on my knees four times a day and say, “Please, Lord, prove me wrong so that I may live happily ever after.”
#
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
*********************************************
ON SOLIDARITY
****************************
It all began, or so we are told, with our impassable mountains, deep valleys, and long winters: a clear-cut case of landscape shaping the profile of a nation, or the unthinking ruling the thinking. Then came ruthless empire builders from the East – actually, also from the North, West, and South – who, as everyone knows by now, rule by dividing. What we are not told in this context is that the barbarians divided us because we allowed ourselves to be divided or, since we were already divided long before they appeared on the scene, we saw nothing unusual in staying that way.
I once heard an Armenian-American academic say that an Armenian queen bequeathed her kingdom (or is it queendom?) to her two sons by dividing it into two equal parts – good for family harmony, bad for the survival of the nation. Had the Ottoman sultans adopted this system, Turkey would have been wiped off the map by now. If the Ottoman Empire lasted 600 years (surely, a record in the history of mankind) it’s because the sultans adopted a system that would prevent all future wars of succession: they strangled with a silk cord all but one son (a silk cord because it was against the law spilling royal blood) – bad for the innocent victims of strangulation, good for the empire. The West being slightly ahead of the East in matters of civilized conduct solved this problem by establishing the principle of primogeniture whereby the eldest son inherits the throne.
Who divides us today? The only answer I can come up with is our DNA – another instance of the unthinking ruling the thinking, or the gut dictating to the brain.
I ask again, who divides us today? Consider the parable of the two Armenians and three churches on a desert island: who divided them? Surely, not the solitary palm tree on the beach, or the remains of a crab being washed by the blue waves of the sea.
Our leadership and us: another instance of the unthinking ruling the thinking (if you will forgive the overstatement). If this is not a popular subject with our editors and ghazetajis, it may be because they are manipulated by our leadership as surely as we were under the sultans and commissars, and because subservience is in their DNA. They are as carefully selected, trained, tamed, and housebroken as the pet dogs of the wealthy.
#
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
***********************************************
PROBLEMS AND THEIR SOLUTIONS
******************************************************
An Armenian is an Armenian
Another Armenian is another Armenian
And never the twain shall meet.
*
Most of our problems (like the one stated abnove) are in the convolutions of our brain – assuming of course we have one, a daring assumption at best. On the day we express a willingness to engage in dialogue, as opposed to issuing dogmatic statements, a great many of our problems will collapse into a heap of dust and will be gone with the wind.
*
Whenever I have a choice between blaming the world or myself, I choose myself. It is within my power to change myself. As for changing the world – let me begin by saying I have no desire to add megalomania to my long list of failings.
*
The aim of the blame-game (or ascribing our failings to others) is to adopt a passive stance and do nothing, except perhaps to bitch and lament – two activities in which we excel.
*
The most frequently unspoken Armenian sentiment: “Because you are wrong, you deserve to die.”
*
Instead of saying “you are wrong,” we should say, “Obviously, I failed to explain myself.”
*
Doubt is more civilized than certainty.
*
I like today’s quotation by Erich Fromm in our paper: “Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself.” Elsewhere a famous Hollywood actor is quoted as having said, “How do the bad people among us end up our leaders?” It can happen to all of us, I guess.
#
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