The world is at a constant struggle between villains and heroes. The heroes are selfless characters who intertwine their lives with the struggle and perseverance of others. Constantly vying for their presence, they fully dedicate themselves to a motive that befits the needs of the majority. The villains, on the other hand, control most of the access to resources and commodify them to satisfy their interests. It is this constant struggle between heroes and villains that pummels nations deeper into poverty and hinders their growth and development. Respective governments become fractured by these conflicting interests, obligatory to the ideals of the heroes and citizens, but highly dependent on the offerings of the villains. Thus, in turn the development challenge comes about.
The development challenge has become a reality for the majority of the world’s population. Developing countries face problems that are very different from one another, but follow a similar pattern. Living in a comfortable world becomes all the more difficult when we face the reality of having one billion people live in developing countries. As a developing nation, Armenia faces these difficult issues within the realms of its society. The problems that Armenia faces are serious, but they are fixable. With strong leadership and an informed citizenry, Armenia has all the tools in place to bring about these reforms. A wide range of policies and programs need to be utilized in order to correctly set these standards and establish norms of behavior. Internal challenges to the government and society are not necessarily hindrances, but can be valuable to the growth and development of the nation as a whole.
First and foremost, Armenia needs to establish forums for the citizenry to have a voice in their government. These forums need to routinely coordinate with the populace in order to determine which services are desired. Government should be open, permissionless, and generative, encouraging current generations to turn to collective action. The politics of the country cannot change, but the government can be altered to work for all of us. An evolutionary change is needed to fix the way people view citizenship, not just try to bring about quick and unstable reforms. We need to establish values-based organizations that consider what is complacent to the whole of society and collectivize a specific and progressive goal.
The problems in Armenia do not stem from apathy amongst the people. We simply live in a world that encourages disengagement and makes it difficult for us to become involved. It is not that people do not care, but they are not given the opportunity to care. The intentional exclusion of people keeps us away from the decision-making process, making it seem as uninviting as possible. Citizenship is not a spectator sport, but it is a full-on, contact game. If people are not encouraged to participate in government, we cannot expect them to see themselves as potential leaders of their communities. The environment may place obstacles our way, but we need to identify and dismantle them.
The reforms needed in Armenia will find their way with the engagement of the society as a whole. We need an independent and fair judicial system that will uphold the rule of law. A reformed police force of properly trained individuals will implement those laws and establish them as behavioral norms. We need an increase in funding for social services based on the changing needs of the citizenry, allowing civil society to prosper. The educational system needs to be renovated to ensure a strong and stable curriculum, guaranteeing that future generations are receiving a quality education. The reforms in the health system needs to provide quality, affordable care for all citizens. Monopolies on certain markets need to be broken up and competition encouraged. There should be clear incentives for small businesses, encouraging citizens to take up their own ventures. We need strong support for the growing information technology sector in Armenia, promoting investments for its development. We need to put an end to the degradation of the Armenian environment through mining projects that benefit foreign investors. We need real leaders who inspire the populace, not just those who have position and priority.
We need movements led by people who work hard for what they believe in. These movements need to emerge organically, not when there is a sense of urgency.
It is not about throwing money at these countries or these problems. It is about immersing ourselves and taking action. Change cannot be imposed, but must come from within. There are many struggles between brave people who are willing to work for change and interests who are too entrenched amongst themselves. We cannot be bystanders in bringing about change to this world. We need to take an active stance and become a part of the struggles. In some cases, providing aid does not work well in certain environments. It is not enough for us to recognize the problem and sympathize with it. Understanding the problem is the easiest part of development, finishing the job is the hard part.
We need to build a unity of purpose. We need to change the ways of thinking that have imbedded themselves too deeply within this society. We need to reach out to wider audiences and create a new and informed citizenry. Thus, we will not only allow Armenia to grow and prosper, but we can establish a new sense of hope for the people here. Development is about giving hope to the people living in Armenia that they can create the society they want to live in. Without that hope, people will direct their energies not to development, but to escape.
For the past few weeks, I have spent my time in Armenia with people who carry these very ideals. We work hard each and every day at camp because we believe that we are making a difference in the lives of these children. We try hard to understand the way of life here. We immerse ourselves into the culture and accept it as it is. The problems in Armenia are our problems. We are not guests here. These are our struggles and we accept them. We will take the opportunities that we have been given and use them as catalysts for change. We carry the burden of using all that we have to create the Armenia that we imagine. This is our country and we accept full responsibility for it.