Change we don't believe in (but should)
Published: Monday August 06, 2012
Growing up with two older brothers has its advantages, regardless of being three boys who like to disappear in the mountains for days at a time and give our parents the mini-heart attacks associated with the worry if something happened to us. But, those times of being around them have taught me, the youngest of the bunch, values that build the core of most of my personality. Take for instance, change.
As Armenian-Americans, we perpetually talk about change. Every day an article comes out, or a discussion is sparked about the change we need in our: communities, cities, government, people, politicians, organizations, businesses, schools, the new generation and the 'homeland.' With all this talk of change, comes the fervent flavors of opinion. After every opinion calling for "change, change, change," one would assume the reader, or participant to be fired up. But fired up at what?
It was early on that I realized I was supporting, and even participating in the opinion stream, and nothing else. We all wanted change, but that's all we could do to achieve it; recognize change needed to happen. OK that step was necessary, but now what? I answered that question with something that I was raised with, my brothers. Both of them subscribe to the philosophy that if you want something in life, you must take it, no one is going to hand it out to you.
Beyond the complaints and excuses
Coming from Armenia recently, I've noticed a trend that Diaspora Armenians love to expose: all the shortcomings of the 'homeland.' We point out the negatives, yet are absent to suggest any constructive solutions that could benefit the same country we are shooting down. After a while, it just seems like we are playing 'whack-a-mole' with anything that is trying to pop up from the ground.
Teghut, for example, has riddled the news this last year with reports from every Armenian news media on the ground in the region, and from Diaspora news outlets. Other than the efforts from various organizations including the ARF-Shant chapter of Glendale, CA, whose continuous help to bring 21st century protest and environmental advocacy methods to the people has gained traction; there has been little discussion about what lies beyond the protests.
There has been an article almost every week highlighting the horrid aftermath of the mining, if it were to reach that level. The news also mentions how, for instance, the mine will create temporary jobs, but at too high of a cost, because there won't be a mountain to go home to after the mining is done. OK, that's fair; but now what?
From the people living in America, I expect more constructive plans. We talk about destroying old-growth forests. What does that mean to anyone outside of the United States who has taken a geography class? We talk about preserving nature and the people. What about a way to get both, but allow the latter to evolve. We protest about environmental rights! What environment is worth living in if people aren't present?
Why do I keep picking on the Armenian-Americans? Because we descend from the nation that took the idea of national parks and made it part of the national identity. Why can't we imagine, 'The Teghut National Forest,' full of campsites, excursions sites, guided hikes, fishing hotspots, backpacking trails, and community lodges where school children can visit throughout the year to learn about environmental issues. Jobs in tourism, construction, cartography, hotel economies, management, reforestation teams, conservation officers, a botany institute, environmental awareness programs, and international research could take the place of the miners. It won't be the estimated $20 billion promised by the mining company, but it's a start to build a sustainable and permanent future for the country.
People don't give themselves enough credit. Diaspora Armenians must shake off the idea that to help Armenia grow and preserve the heritage and advocate for the 'cause,' we must be 'rich, rich, rich!' As much as money helps, it isn't what creates ripples. A fan of Chaos Theory, I believe that everything is connected. From a geography teacher of an elementary school in Boston, to a software engineer graduate living in Gyumri, everyone matters to eachother. Both professionals stated above might not donate large sums of money to Armenian organizations, but imagine they meet and create an interactive software for Armenian-school children to learn about geography, weather patterns, and natural phenomenon, while at the same time the software is in English and Armenian to help children learn and refine both languages. I ask you, is that not change?
I'd like to take the time with the rest of this article to highlight some aspects of change that many Diaspora Armenian-Americans don't believe can help the country succeed. In an effort to rid ourselves of the idea that only money buys change, we can start with thinking outside of the rectangle shape of paper currency that we confine ourselves to, and start investing our time and criticisms into ideas that must grow and will develop. Enough of the excuse that we are twenty years old; I'm even sick of saying it. We're twenty years old as a country, that means this is the time to make new ideas germinate and flourish into foundational beams to build on.
This isn't only the land of opportunity, it is the nation that breeds scholars, logisticians, business owners, teachers, intellectuals, and advocates. Put showing the world what we can do on the back burner; that time will come. Let's show ourselves what we're made of; from what ancient kingdoms we descend from. Let's give testament to the kings and queens that live inside every one of us that we are what create the ideas (and follow through with plans) necessary for change.
The main topics below are the first set of professions I chose to highlight because most might ignore their profile descriptions based on the fact that they are not the conventional steps taken to 'help the homeland.' Because if it's anything that you love doing, it's going to make a difference in your life and influence those in the same reality.