Opinion: If only more Armenians were good Armenians
Published: Wednesday February 17, 2010
Haverhill, Mass. - In our never-ending quest to create a better, more active Armenian lifestyle, a student in our Sunday School program came up with this logical solution.
With as much fortitude as this 12-year-old could muster, he said, "If only the Armenians who aren't Armenians become Armenians."
The youngster made a valid point. His answer bordered on apathy, indifference, lethargy. It struck a nerve with his Armenian School instructor.
"If only more people took an interest in their heritage, the community would be far better off," he continued. "You wanna know what's wrong with Armenians? Look in the mirror."
This comes from an adolescent who seldom has much to say in class, rarely speaks his mind, and has an obvious bone to pick. His ancestry is important to him. He's dropped off at church every Sunday and off goes his dad to the donut shop near-by where he spends the interim over a cup of coffee and the Sunday paper.
A better alternative in this student's mind would be attending the Sunday service, taking a more avid interest in the church, perhaps grow involved in the welfare of his community.
His comment snowballed into an avalanche.
If only more Armenians practiced their language, it might not be cast into oblivion. A call came from an Armenian church, looking for a language instructor to work with teenagers in that congregation.
No one in that parish seemed qualified or was willing to give the time. So an outside appeal was being made.
The thought occurred to me. How could an entire Armenian Church population be unresponsive toward the Mother Tongue? Was this a sign of the times?
The caller probably didn't like my response. "If you can't get someone in your church to teach Armenian, how would you expect someone from another church to give up their Sunday and come to yours?
"It wouldn't be fair to that individual --- or the church they attend."
If only the people who could sing a decent note turn out for the choir or those with a spiritual outlook perhaps join the clergy and bolster our churches.
If only they turned out for our genocide recognitions, patronized our many charities, traveled to Armenia and pitched an earnest hand at any one of the infinite projects in that land.
If only the teachers taught, the students learned and the parents cooperated. Partnerships are important. As Armenians, we're enamored by it.
If only we could adopt a genocide curriculum in our public schools, bolster our Armenian day schools with more qualified teachers and students, establish more Armenian Chairs in institutions of higher learning. Education is still the Armenian lifeblood.
If only the politicians hopped on our bandwagon in the best interest of human rights. Better still, Armenians running for public office who might make a difference.
If only Hollywood would tell our story and more of us joined the ranks of the rich and famous, only to give back. I look at someone like Cher and see the good she's done both here and abroad.
If only more writers would write and photographers take their pictures. Spread the news about our wonderful country among non-Armenians in an effort to promote tourism and thereby bolster the economy. We have much to share with the outside world.
If only we worshipped out of one church, answered to one religious hierarchy, and belonged to one political front instead of being fragmented.
If only we pooled our resources, took an active stand on internal matters, became the activist we're capable of becoming, and turned ourselves into role models for our children.
If only we joined the past with the present to create a positive future for generations to follow. If only more Armenians were attracted to one another to create a wholesome ethnic household. Should you happen to come from a mixed marriage, the challenge lies before you. Give the Armenian side a chance.
If only more of us would attend the many Armenian lectures and cultural offerings, the dances and socials, arts and humanities, and keep the vigil strong.
If only we could all work toward the common cause, uninhibited and without compromise, keep our insatiable spirit alive, spread the wealth, and ease the poverty.
If only we put our words into action instead of hot air.
"What can I do?" the young student wondered.
"If only more students like you offer school reports on Armenia, rally around our flag when the time comes, become the young ambassador we truly need, and bring a friend or relative to our midst."
"If only ..."