I have a plea.
It is a heartfelt plea to my Armenian people. And it’s a difficult one.
We have a rich history dating back 6000 years. Our culture is rich in the arts, music, literature, food, costume and dance. Our people are intelligent, talented, entrepreneurial, inventive and hospitable.
While we have had much pain in our story, our faith and resilience have always proven stronger.
The Genocide should not define us.
The events of the last 100 years, while horrific, should not supersede the last 6000.
We are not victims – we are fighters.
We are not weak – we are irrepressible.
We are not quiet – we are spirited.
We are not resigned – we are resistant.
We are not passive – we are dynamic.
We are not hateful – we are affectionate.
Unless it involves the Turks.
Do you see the hypocrisy?
Where is our faith when we despise the Turks? Where is our faith when we refuse to forgive? Where is our faith when we teach our children to continue the hatred and pass our loathing from generation to generation?
Armenians are very quick to point out that we were the first nation to officially adopt Christianity in 301AD. But what significance does that have if we are not actively living that faith – if we are not actively applying Jesus’s words and teaching in our lives?
What the Young Turks did in the 1890s and then from 1915-1923 is horrific and inexcusable. What the current Turkish government is doing now by continuing their denial and historical revisionism is outrageous. It spits on the memory of our martyrs.
My plea is for forgiveness anyway.
Although 100 years have passed, I understand that the wounds are still open and fresh. We still hurt. We still tremble in horror at the stories of our grandparents and great-grandparents. But without forgiveness, we allow those wounds to fester. The Turks do not control us – we are in control of ourselves. And we are the ones leaving our wounds open to infection. The Turks are not ripping off the scabs leaving our wounds fresh – we are doing that to ourselves, effectively leaving the wounds open and vulnerable to the “lemon juice” being poured on by the denialists.
My plea is to forgive and seek reconciliation, without which we cannot heal and close those wounds. Recognition will help; reparations will soothe. But without true forgiveness, the Turks continue to have us by our throats.
We can justify our anger. We can claim it for our ancestors. We can rationalize our rage and excuse our wrath. I’m so sorry, my hurting brothers and sisters – our fury is a sin.
I’m so proud of our recent commemorations. We marched peacefully around the world to show that we’re still here and we demand justice. We honored the memory of our martyrs.
Forgiveness does not mean we forget our past. Forgiveness does not mean we stop pursuing justice. Forgiveness breaks our bonds of bitterness. Forgiveness means we can begin to truly heal. Forgiveness allows us to not be defined by our past. Forgiveness empties our hearts of hostility and replaces it with peace.
Forgiveness shifts our eyes from our past to our future.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.