This struggle…It keeps me awake at nights. It courses through my veins; it kicks at my beating heart ruthlessly. It lights an inferno in my soul and my body smolders under it. It wracks my mind and my emotions, for what is the place of an Armenian-American living in America?
We struggle and fight from seas abroad so that our homeland off in the horizon will remain untouched and prosperous, without any hindrance. Yet when have we asked ourselves the question, “Will I ever live in my homeland again?”
I fear we become victims of pseudo-patriotism. A sense of urgency that arises when our cause is in check, yet quickly creeps away when we have shown our surroundings that we cared enough to take the initiative to act. Yet we look down upon our brothers and sisters living in our homeland, relics of a lost cold war and a fallen soviet empire, wondering when they will ever become as educated as us. We are blind to the fact that they are the true patriots. They live with the land. Every morning they wake with the sun on their shoulders that rises from the east, and stands guard above our national symbol of Mt. Ararat. They culture and harness the land; they give it life and nurture it. They tame both the mountainous terrain and the riches she keeps hidden in her bosom. They are the true descendants of our fedayis and true patriots who saved our fragile people from the clutches of an empire whose only legacy was an insatiable lust for power and domination.
We are the scattered children of our motherland. When the genocide occurred, we fled to the middle-east. When Syria restricted our growth and endangered our way of life, we fled to Lebanon. When the civil war broke out, we fled to the United States. We never returned. Our love for our homeland bled and dried up into an affection and obsession with the abstract idea of what our motherland had been.
We never stopped once and held our ground. We always fled. We protected our people, but we never fought for the land on which we lived. We took the lands we lived in for granted and abused our right to live there. We never repaid our freedom. We bled for survival, but we didn’t bleed for the land, because it wasn’t ours, nor did we want it to be.
So we came to The United States, land of the free and home of the brave. We sang songs, read books, and published newspapers by the hundreds. We created organization and opened schools so that our communities and future generations will always remember our identity and out story. And here we stayed, for the sake of our offspring, for a future, and most importantly, a promise which few realized was a warning in disguise.
The life expectancy for our identity was only as long as our willingness to master it. Yet in a society where Capitalism is king, where you are responsible for your own share of the pie, where morality and justice are but fantastic ideas on a piece of parchment drying up in a box in Washington D.C., it became apparent that our survival in such a society would come at the slowly increasing cost of our identity.
Such is the burden of the patriotic Armenian-American youth today. We struggle on all fronts. We fight for our homeland abroad, we fight for our survival in our environment, and we constantly grapple with the idea of dropping our way of life to move back to the homeland because it is the right thing to do. America and a globalized military-industrial complex have diminished our sense of nationality and patriotism, by dangling the myth of the American Dream in front of us, while keeping us in fear that it is unobtainable anywhere else in the world. We fight our gut feelings that call us traitors every time we decide to remain here so secure a better way of life for our diasporas and generations to come, for why shouldn’t those people have the chance to live and grow in their own country?
We have the burden of fighting for our existence and the preservation of our identity in an unprecedented context, under the guise of assimilated Armenians.
Yeraz Im Yergir, Hayreni. That is what you have been for us, for the Diaspora Armenians from Western Armenia.