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Old 08.09.2007, 16:39   #1
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Thursday, September 06, 2007
Homo sapiens is a selfish and self-centered creature. Selfless specimens like Mother Teresa exist, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and you can count them on the fingers of one thumb. And speaking of thumbs: a small cut on our little finger matters more to us than the death of ten or a hundred thousand peasants in China. When the Turks count their victims, even two of them are two more than our two million. We may all believe in our statistics but we also know that one man’s believer is another’s infidel.
Nothing could be more abysmally naïve than to say, their politicians lie but ours speak the truth and nothing but the truth. “A bourgeois is a bourgeois, regardless of nationality,” Lenin once said. So is a politician.
If Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Mussolini continue to have their defenders and admirers today it’s because “even the gods cannot compete with human stupidity.”
I trust our politicians and their version of the past as much as I trust theirs. And by extension, I trust an academic who enjoys political support as much as I trust a politician. Most politicians are either lawyers or operate like lawyers. They emphasize the strengths in their own case and expose and concentrate on the weaknesses of the opposition. Lawyers do it for money, politicians do it for power; and it is power and money that make the world go around, not love and truth. Love and truth may be favorite subjects for Sunday sermons but they don’t carry much weight beyond the confines of the sacristy, and sometimes not even as far as the sacristy. In politics as well as in may other lines of work (from organized religions to advertising and public relations) concepts like objectivity, honesty, and impartiality are not thought of as assets but as career-wrecking liabilities. I speak from experience.
A wise man once said, “the lie on the lips becomes the lie in the soul” -- another way of saying, if in our formative years we are not brainwashed by vested interests, we end up brainwashing ourselves. Which is why, after being exposed to our own propaganda year in, year out and ad nauseam, I don’t mind giving the opposition a chance for the sake of breaking the monotony more than anything else. And if cooperation and harmony are ever established between them and us, it will be because of individuals who place their humanity above their nationality, individuals moreover who are fed up playing the role of dupes to speechifiers and sermonizers with an ax to grind.
Friday, September 07, 2007
If you think I have a mighty low opinion of our political leaders and their dupes, you are absolutely right. And if you want to know more on this subject, I suggest you have a talk with one of our leaders – assuming you can find one willing to come down from his high jackass. Once in my salad days I did exactly that and published the resulting palaver in one of our periodicals. That’s when the doodoo hit the ventilator. Since the leader of my interview was a Tashnak, one of his Ramgavar counterparts reacted by writing a vitriolic letter to the editor exposing the Tashnak as a phony and a liar. My Tashnak responded by accusing the Ramgavar of being more Bolshevik than Stalin.
To say a good Armenian is one who respects and trusts our leaders, amounts to saying to qualify as a good Armenian it is necessary to be a brain-dead dupe. What’s the difference between brain-dead and dead? And to think that they have the temerity to accuse me of harboring anti-Armenian sentiments.
I am more interested in the Turk within us than in the Turk within Turks. As for the Armenian within the Armenian: I do hope one of these days I shall have the privilege and good fortune of making his acquaintance.
Speaking of politicians and jackasses, there is a well known and widely quoted exchange between a Republican presidential candidate (I forget his name) and a heckler that goes something like this:
HECKLER: My father was a Democrat, my grandfather was a Democrat, I am a Democrat.
CANDIDATE: If your father were a jackass, and your grandfather were a jackass, what would you be?
HECKLER: A Republican!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
“Don’t get mad, get even.” (American folk wisdom)
“Just the facts, ma’am.” (Jack Webb)
“He who loses temper, has wrong on his side.” (Chinese saying)
If, god forbid, you happen to be one of those rare Armenians who starts foaming at the mouth whenever Turks are mentioned, I have one or two suggestions that you may find of some use.
Never get emotionally involved in an argument because when the gut speaks louder than the brain, reason exits, unreason enters, and unreason might as well be synonymous with insanity.
One of the fundamental principles of diplomacy that is common knowledge even among non-diplomats with a single-digit IQ is that, if you want something, anything, from someone, anyone, one way to get it is by pretending you neither want it nor need it. And the best way of not getting what you want is to make it clear that what you want is the most important thing you ever wanted in your life and that if your demands are not fully and unconditionally met, your life will no longer have any meaning.
When engaged in negotiation, you either do so from a position of strength or weakness. If weakness, do not give in to the temptation of losing your equanimity or resorting to name-calling, if only because name-calling is easy and more often than not totally ineffective. History is on my side on this. After a century of name-calling, what have we accomplished? Number of victims: not a single resurrection. Reparations? Not a single red cent. Territorial claims? Not a single inch of dirt. On the other hand, if you think you are negotiating from a position of strength or moral superiority (because god and truth are on your side) no need to go down into the gutter if only because doing so may expose your claim of moral superiority as bogus.
You may do whatever your little heart desires and minuscule brain dictates in the privacy of your own home and behind closed doors, but in public or on an open discussion forum on the internet, try to be cool, objective, and impartial; and if you can’t be cool, be silent. For there is more wisdom in silence than in empty verbiage.
To the question, “Why is it that you don’t always practice what you preach?” I can only say, I am not a very good sharpshooter. I aim high when I write, but I don’t always hit the bull’s eye when I live. Isn’t that a common failing in all sermonizers, speechifiers, and, sometimes, scribblers?
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