The Time for Progression Upon Us

The Armenian Genocide is traditionally viewed as an event: an organised attempt to exterminate a race. It can be plotted on a timeline. It can be taught about in schools, written in the history books or sung about by choirs. It can be told as a story, a horrible story that will send shivers down the necks of even the cruellest. It can be told as a story of the triumph of evil, a story lacking a happy ending. It can be told as a story to instil little ones with fear and hatred, a dark story which can incite a replication of the evil spirit in which the Genocide was conducted.

For me however the Genocide is not simply a story of past days. This is a simplification of what genocide is. I am the Genocide, whether I like it or not. Whether I wish to accept it or not, I cannot deny that I am who I am, and I am where I am because of the Genocide. The Genocide for me is not simply a story or a past event. It is a present event. A feeling which I feel 99 years on. 99 years of national roots have been grown in darkness, 99 years of national character developed in fear of the outside world. 99 years. 99 years on can we claim we have become more courageous, stronger, united or prouder?  99 years ago 1.5 million died, what would they say if they could see us now? Rife with the same disunity and living with the same fear shared by an Armenian peasant 99 years ago.

We fear because the scar inflicted 99 years ago was so deep that we have still not recovered. Scars may be very ugly, and may represent an event that was so close to destroying us. But they are still scars, they do nothing, they give no limitations. Their only limitation is what we prescribe to it. Our forefathers died to give us the freedom to live our lives; ‘abrel’ is a gift in our culture, one we must cherish to the full. Let us remember the past as part of our present, let us remove the black mourning cloth from everything we do. Let us stand confident, let us not fear the outside world, let us live our lives, and enjoy our freedom. Let us not remember the story of genocide, let us finish the story by achieving justice.

Let us not unleash our anger via hatred. Let us not hate with the same hate they shared for us. In the words of Marcus Aurelius:

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”

Let us seek justice in a way worthy of respect, let us act now in a way that in 99 years’ time people will learn not just about the Armenian Genocide, but about the admirable struggle for recognition.

The Genocide is our story, like any story it has a beginning, a middle and an end. If the beginning is dark and sad, why must the middle be dark or the end be sad? We do not need to listen to sad violins to respect the dead, we can respect the dead through our words, through our actions and through our strength. The Genocide is our story, let us write our own future, not the future prescribed to us by others. Let us write our own brighter future, not one plagued by the scars of 99 years. Let the scars motivate us to act, to improve and to live our lives.

— Vahe Boghosian

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