Happy Birthday

January is my birth month. For those who know me, know that I love Birthdays. They are the measure of yet another year granted by the grace of God; a timeless privilege too often deprived by many whose breath on this earth has been counted shorter than mine.

When I was younger, having a birthday meant having a day celebrated with a special treat, licking the batter off the whisk from my mom’s homemade cake and getting one present, two if fortunate to have a grandmother nearby. When I was younger, birthday parties were where I invited the entire class because I couldn’t differentiate between friends and classmates.

It was a time when all had a go at pin-the-tail-on-the donkey and played musical chairs, did the hokey pokey and had fun. When I was younger, birthdays were social events of eagerly anticipated games and balloons, accompanied by sandwiches, cake, and ice-cream in the home. That was pretty much it. There wasn’t much emphasis on presents. The greatest joy was lighting the candles and having everyone sing “Happy Birthday.” By the time the 1980’s came along, family entertainment centers — bowling alleys, roller and skating rinks, mini golf courses, arcades, movie theaters — became the trend and multiplied. Parents often threw multiple parties — one with the nuclear family, one at school, and one with friends at an entertainment center. And the most popular song of the twentieth century–“Happy Birthday” was once again sung amid the cacophony of noise, and grew in popularity even more in 2020 as an accompaniment to a hand-washing ritual in the global covid pandemic.

The song “Happy Birthday to You” was first published in 1893 and written by two sisters from Kentucky: Mildred Hill and Patty Hill. Patty served on the faculty of the Columbia University Teachers College for thirty years and invented the “Patty Hill blocks” used in schools nationwide. Mildred, the older sister, who had studied music and taught at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten School came up with the melody to the song in 1893. Patty added some lyrics, and it became a song called “Good Morning to All,” which was a way for teachers to greet students. By 1933, the song morphed its way to becoming the widely accepted title and melody to “Happy Birthday to You.” Unfortunately, Mildred died in 1916 years before the tune became famous as “Happy Birthday.” Patty, on the hand, lived to 1946 long enough to see that she and her sister had started a worldwide birthday tradition being publicly performed hundreds of millions of times.

Last night, with a family of six members, we once again huddled around a homemade chocolate cake with flames aglow from more candles than in my younger years. And then came that singular moment —who’s it going to be? —who is the one person amongst the people who will make a fateful decision to throw his/her voice to start the first syllable of the song? My four-year-old grandson took the lead with a 3, 2, 1 countdown and belted the first syllable. Soon, he was joined by everyone, raising their voices in a cacophonous chorus of birthday revelers. The feeling of shared positive experience—that everyone is celebrating my special day and symbolically carrying me onto another year, with the ups and downs and moments of blah and beauty that go with it—that supreme moment soars on a cloud until the goofiest of the bunch adds ‘And maaany moooooore.’ I smile from ear to ear. I look around, nod in gratitude, and like a child, I sheepishly focus on the sweet candle-lit cake before my eyes.

No matter where we are in life, birthday celebrations are in order. They acknowledge one’s existence. With life being so difficult and people creating wars and fighting battles, with the number of reckless decisions made in the world and with the amount of everyday stress and pressure, it should be celebrated that we’ve accomplished another 365 days. As an adult I realize that birth is my beginning, and every year is a time reminder for a chance to do something good, to make the world a little better and create a ripple effect that can be passed on. But at present, I am grateful to have made enough of a positive impact in the lives of the people surrounding me that they want to come and celebrate my existence on the earth for another year. Besides, birthday cakes are always a treat. And I get the larger slice!

Happy early/belated birthdays to all!

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Peace

Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Mankind.
It is what we wish for especially during Christmas and the New Year. Yet since the beginning of history, man has been in a constant state of war and strife.  We have gone to war for religious or ethnic differences, to gain territory or other natural resources, to overthrow an unjust government or to stop the destructive actions of another country. Alliances have been formed and peace treaties signed to bring about peace on earth, but as one conflict is resolved, several more rage in different places around the world. The history of mankind has been one of continuous enmity, suffering, pain, and death.

Peace is a concept of collective friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. (Wikipedia). Peace is a lack of conflict or absence of war and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups. Ironically, education and development bring greater insight about what is wrong with our world and creates a desire to do something about it. Most of our social and political advancements have come through fighting for them. For example, each of the human rights that we take for granted nowadays were achieved through struggle…the right to vote, equal rights, labor rights, women’s rights, education, natural resources, food, retribution, and the list is endless. In order to help those who cannot help themselves, and to preserve peace on a larger scale we go to war. War is entirely our creation, the product of human choices. War could end tomorrow if a relatively small group of people around the world chose to end it by becoming messengers of peace.

But how can one be a messenger of peace if drama, chaos, and grievances co-exist within one’s home–the very foundation where one’s physical, spiritual, and emotional being resides? How is “world peace” to be accomplished if we seem more focused on the shortcomings of our lives than on the merits, strengths and virtues? How can we claim peace when we don’t know how to say we’re sorry and don’t think of who loses when we win? Until we have personal peace in our hearts and homes, we can’t have peace in the world. So, peace really starts at home. It starts with you and me. Peace does not mean being in a place with no noise or trouble. Peace means being in the midst of all the chaos and still be calm in the heart.

I asked a boy of nine what peace meant to him. “Peace,” he said, is when I don’t hear my parents quarreling every evening.”

A young teen said, “Peace is when I no longer feel the twitch of hunger at the pit of my stomach trying to eat itself because there is no food to go around at home.”

Another said, “When my parents and church allow me to be who I am.” While another said, “When I don’t have to fear the physical threats of bullies just because I look and speak different, that’s when I will have peace.”

A family seeking political asylum said of peace. “When we don’t have to jump at every car exhaust that pops and bangs and at every door that slams taking us back to the terror of bullets, guns and bombs of war.”

I asked a lawyer her rendition of peace. “When justice is served, and the criminal receives what he/she deserves following our principles of fairness.”

A mother said this of peace.”Hearing my child breathe softly in the silence of the night.”  “My family around the dinner table,” said another.

A priest responded with, “Peace comes with prayer. Prayer softens hearts to be more attentive to the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters. Love fills our hearts which brings greater peace to all.”

I asked a person whose body was weary of illness. “Peace,” said the person, “is what I long for… the eternal peace that awaits me on the other side.”

I believe in peace. I believe that I should have empathy and compassion to help others so we can live in a peaceful world. A world where there is no crime. A world where there is no war, no killing, no suffering. A world where children are not bullied or judged for their differences. I believe I have to share. I have to share for a world that feels the gnawing pain of hunger. I believe in the power of prayer and love enough to share with family, friends, and neighbors.  I believe in peace eternal. I will strive for peace.  A peaceful day’s living with a peaceful night’s sleep with a leap of faith in humanity.

This Christmas, may the true meaning of peace on earth find its home in your heart to share with others and with the world around you.

Happy Christmas and A Peaceful New Year 2023

 

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Always Carry Mahs

Every so often I attend church. After the Divine Liturgy Mahs, a portion of unleavened bread (size of a saltine cracker but thin as a wafer) that has been blessed at the altar is distributed among the exiting parishioners.  It is neatly packaged in tiny paper bags. One single bag is handed to each person as he /she exits the end of church service. (The distribution of Mahs is another way of participation for those who could not partake of the Holy Communion, as well as a way of “breaking bread” together and sharing in the bond of love among the members of the church.

The underlying principle is that a nibble of bread is as much a blessing as the whole piece. However, there is no specific rule as to how many pieces of Mahs one can take, if there’s enough to go around. I always take three or four. “Why?” asked a parishioner when he noticed my ritual. I explained that on several occasions this tiny wafer called Mahs was enough to tame my hunger, enough to curb my appetite, enough to hold me through in times of want.

One dark, rainy night I was driving home from a job assignment that took me far from my residence. I had been out all day with only three cups of coffee and one cookie in my system. My stomach let out a loud rumble. I was famished. I was exhausted and traffic was at a standstill. I had no idea what caused the slow-down, how many miles it stretched or how long it would last. It was going to be a long night. I couldn’t help but use a few choice words. Hungry and angry, I took the next exit to find a grocery store where I could pick up a bite to eat with a hot drink. In the bakery section, the aroma of fresh baked bread overwhelmed me, and I ordered coffee and a custom wrapped sandwich to eat on the ride back home. It would be a good two hours before I’d make it to my destination.

With my take-out by my side, I set out to confront the freeway only to be held up by the red light at the intersection to the on ramp. My stomach let out an even louder rumble, followed by a series of what felt and sounded like a thunderstorm in my belly. “Take a bite of your sandwich,” I thought. At that moment my eye caught sight of a young homeless man, drenched under the rain with a sign asking for assistance.  The voice inside me said: “Give him the sandwich.” I began to wrestle with the voice: “Why? I’ll give him money instead.” But the inner voice kept saying: “GIVE HIM THE SANDWICH!” After a 4-5 second back and forth hesitation, I gave my deliciously prepared fully loaded subway sandwich and the hot cup of coffee to the man. His eyes grew large, and with the refraction of headlights in the rain, they sparkled like stars. “Thank you,” he mumbled, and as the light turned green, I saw him bite ravenously into the sandwich.

Back in the snail pace flow of traffic, down one sandwich and drink, my stomach let out another rumble. Yet, surprisingly, the mindset of negativity which had accumulated inside me during the day and on the road began to shift. It was as though a part of my brain lit up and I felt the stress of the day lift. I felt good. But I was still hungry. I searched through the console under my arm rest for gum or candy, and lo and behold found dry Mahs still in its package. My joy was immeasurable. I put the dry, crispy wafer-thin Mahs in my mouth savoring the bite. It softened on my tongue before I chewed and swallowed the tiny morsel between my teeth.  It tamed my hunger. I felt satiated.

Whether it was the privilege of feeding another man on a rainy day or that the Mahs was a symbolic and blessed piece of bread that satisfied my hunger, I will never know. What I do know is this. As the poor drenched man’s want was relieved by putting out his hand to accept alms, so too was my want relieved by accepting the blessed Mahs.

I make it a practice to always carry Mahs.

 

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Travel, My Reset Button

I love to travel. It matters not whether I travel in state, out of state, across borders or over oceans. I long for the revelations, the deep insights and the life-altering encounters travel brings. I want the freedom and adventure that comes from surrendering to what a new place has to show me. I crave the romance of not knowing the flavors of food I will taste, the conversations I’ll have, the people I’ll meet. The anticipation of travel, the sheer idea of going somewhere far away, is always the first exciting thing for me. It’s part coping mechanism, part restlessness, and part soul seeking.

Then someone told me, “If you travel all the time, you’re running away from something.”

Is that true? Am I running away from something…If so, then what am I running from?

“Perhaps you have a restless soul trying to find happiness in external things like adventure and experiences. Perhaps you’re trying to escape from who you are right now,” said the someone.

Is that what I’m doing?

Over the years, I have traveled much.  There is nothing like getting off a plane/train/bus and seeing the beauty of a new place for the first time. Sometimes, the outer beauty is overwhelming, and I have to stand still and let time stop to try to absorb it all at once. Sometimes, the beauty is less about the visual and more about that first conversation with a local when I am pleasantly overwhelmed by their openness and rich culture. I love walking several miles each day in a new place and thinking about who has walked there before me. The foreign dirt spread throughout the world of past and present civilizations holding secrets of languages, food, customs, history and religion excite and inspire me. Mysteries of cultures waiting and wanting to be unraveled and discovered by my curious mind.

I love witnessing the way different people and cultures move through the world – how they interact with each other, love each other, how they make art, how they define community, what they value, what they fight for, and what they believe in spiritually. With every new encounter, I experience a new part of myself. In a state of displacement, I am willing to try new things to push my boundaries. I experience wonder, discovery, awe, discomfort. I go with an open mind, and bring to light things about myself, about others and about the world I would not have learned otherwise.

And rather than discover who I am, I begin to question who I am. To question is a good thing because it breeds non-judgment and openness. It helps to grow and evolve and broaden our vision of the world; it softens our sometimes-hardened attitude about the “right” way to do and think things. It’s easy to have our status quo at home where we become too involved in our current environment and lives. To move out of our comfort zone, to step out and explore and experience makes us aware of how small the world really is …and how important it is to look around, to observe, and to participate in the world around us.

Travel gives me cherished memories, my greatest stories to be told, and countless irreplaceable learnings that I can choose to pay forward to others. It teaches me about myself, and often provides new lenses with which I can see and think about who I am, what I care about and what I am doing with my life. The person I am on a beach in Greece is not the person I am sitting in a café in the middle of winter in Boston. Neither am I the person on a road trip through Eastern Europe the same as the person I am at a family reunion in Beirut. And I start to question taking the new job which sounded like a great idea back home but sounds like a not-so-good idea when physically distanced, but then sounds like a great idea as soon as I get back. Just like a reset button, it forces me to refocus on what really matters. It rejuvenates and grounds me, educates and challenges me, and most of all, it humbles me.

Am I  running away from something? No, but I am running toward living more openly in my non-traveling life. I am running toward being me, with a better perception of who I am —  brave enough to abandon set agendas, exist with my own set of priorities, and let myself get lost from time to time, knowing my own internal compass will help guide me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Own the Fall

“Oopsy daisy, and up you go,” I said to my toddler grandson as he tripped and fell while running outside. This wasn’t the first time he’d taken a tumble. He knew the drill. He took a moment to check himself, rubbed his palms to scrape the dirt off them and then slowly rose to resume his play. Granted there were a couple of time when he fell and cried but after an “Oopsy daisy, up you go,” and a caring hug, he was off again.  No blame, no shame, no guilt. Falling is not a failure for him. He doesn’t suffer humiliation. He blames no one. He owns his fall.

I have faced quite a few falls in my years, and each time I’ve had to get up, I remind myself that there is no lamenting my carelessness or my poor choice or blame the fault on others. None of that will get me back on my feet with a lesson learned.  To get up, I must counter my ego defense system and take ownership of my fall. Sure, it hurts, but I sit for a while on the ground or “at rock bottom” allowing myself the time to have the hurt filter through me and then I get up “owning the fall.” Owning the fall has made a difference in how I approach the world. Dad taught me that.

As a child, I was quite a spirited girl, quick on the draw, which made me more accident-prone. I always had cuts and bruises over my legs and arms, and stitches which are now hidden in my hairline. One day, while riding a bike in the vast stretches of a sandy path,  I took a tumble. It hurt. My ego was crushed but I rose right back up, blaming a small stone that caused my fall. Dad, in his firm yet gentle way said I shouldn’t blame the stone and that I should have paid more attention to the terrain and had I checked the air in my bike’s front tire, I might have prevented the fall. “Own it,” he said. I asked Dad if he ever fell.  “More times than I can count,” he chuckled, “But I learned how to land. We fall all the time, but the real mastery is in the landing and owning your fall,” he continued.

At the time, I didn’t understand what he meant. I thought I must literally learn to fall. I watched western movies where heroes and villains would leap from rooftops, trains, and stagecoaches. I admired athletes who fell and knew how to take a dive and roll especially in the game of soccer. I practiced. I would jump from high walls to try landing on my feet and was always the first to take a dare. As I grew older, I took an acting class in which I was taught to fall using certain techniques. I admit, I learned to fall purposefully, but to fall unexpectedly and to land on my feet was not an easy mastery. I asked dad, “How do you fall?” “Like a toddler,” he said. “I lose my balance, I stumble, falter and fall. And like a toddler, I don’t try to justify my fall on anything or anyone other than myself. I own my mistake. I take a few moments to regain my strength and then I get back up and try to not repeat it. That’s the story of our lives.”

There is truth to my dad’s wisdom. That IS the story of our lives. We all suffer our own falls. We fall. We fall in love, we fall out of love. We fall on our faces, we fall out of fashion, we fall into a trap, and we fall for a trick. We fall ill, we fall asleep, we fall into despair, and we fall into silence. We fall into money, we have a falling out, we fall on our feet, and we fall on deaf ears. We fall into error; we fall in line or fall in place. We fall into step, and we fall into oblivion. We fall from failure of youthful ideals, from ambition, from strength, from loss; we fall from grace, we fall in, we fall out. And in each of these falls, if we can take responsibility, take ownership of our situations, we will fall away from our egos and like the toddler, bounce back up because we want to get back up.

I realize that falling and landing as a child is very different than how I fall and land in older years, but I pray I will land with grace toward grace, and rise again with an “oopsy daisy, up you go.” No blame, no shame, no guilt. I own the fall.

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Classroom Cemetery

Coffins nailed in our heart
For the inhumanity
That stalks us;
Watching,
Minds numbed
We defend the value of life
for an unborn child;
Guns
Tearing flesh, stopping hearts in mid inhale
We lobby for expanded rights,
Defending less the children born.
In a classroom
We pay the price,
Children, lifeless,
Born
And died.

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Sibling Love

I grew up the middle child among three, between a sister and a brother with three years spanning between us. Growing up with siblings profoundly altered my childhood — and everything that followed. Sister and brother were my first playmates and now as an adult, my oldest friends.

From sharing a small bedroom with a cot and bed, to each living in the four corners of the earth, our relationships have stood the tests of time and distance. Like olive trees that grow stronger with cuttings from parent trees and become more grounded to bear fruit as they spread their gnarled and twisted branches, weathering storms and changes around them, I attribute our strong connection to how we were raised with “cutting” from roots and stems of family genes. Our mom and dad believed in the importance of our relationships and were persistent in fostering our sibling love. “You don’t let anyone, or anything come between you,” mom would say. But she needn’t have said it. We grew surrounded by family of aunts and uncles who didn’t let anything come between siblings. Their emotional intelligence, their assertiveness and equanimity, their empathy, their self-awareness, and distinction between creative and critical thinking all had a role in being examples.

Siblings. They are the link to who I have been at every stage in my life. They are the only ones who share collective memories of growing up and can reminisce together with laughter and with tears. They are who I feel most at ease with, my absolute comfort to just be me. I don’t have to think about it – I just am around them. Whether it’s because of all the time spent together while growing up or the lack of need to pass judgment on each other, there is something unique about the way we are able to connect with one another.

That connection is hard to describe in a single word. It’s the comfort felt when you sit in the same room with your brother and sister, in pure silence, yet the three of us know how the other is feeling. And sometimes it’s picking up right where we left off, even if it’s been weeks, months, or years since the last deep conversation. It’s the knowledge that, at the end of the day, we’ll always be able to call on each other for support.

The relationship which I have with my siblings thrives on differences — not only the ones we have had as children, but those which we continue to create as adults.

For example, my idealist nature contrasts sharply with my sister’s practicality, while my brother’s rectitude stands out above my Christian ethics. Yet as time has worn on, we have come to share far more interests and common family traits that run through our DNA than I would once have thought possible.

Sister’s role in my life as I am sure in my brother’s life has changed as we grew: a doting, prideful protector in her preschool days, an often-disinclined playmate as she grew a little older, and, following that, a brilliant young teen whose analytical mind pushed the status quo to the limits and as an adult, her direct approach to solving life issues.  These shaped me into understanding the expanse of my abilities. Brother’s role in my life was as playmate in our preschool days with whom I shared little mischiefs as we grew older and while we may have had separate interests in our early teens, somehow, we grew to share exploratory adventures, hiking, and camping in “forbidden” territory and experiencing life-threatening moments that enhanced our resilience with emotional regulation.

My siblings are two of my biggest advocates (and of course can be the biggest pain in my butt). They have been there with me through thick and thin. But that’s what siblings are for: to be your number one fan at your best and kick your butt when you are out of line.

From the time I can recall, sister and brother are collaborator and co-conspirator, my role model and cautionary tale. They are my scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach me how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. They carry the innate gene of compassion and I learn from them the ways in which our needs and desires relate and clash onto each other.

To the outside world we all grow old. But not to sister and brother. She still calls me Sil, he calls me Sily.  “We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” (Clara Ortega)
Just like the olive tree.
Sibling love.

 

Charcoal drawing (Siblings) by Puzant Godjamanian (private collection)

 

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Mother and Child

She puts her arm on my shoulder to rest.
I hold onto the hem of her green polka dot dress.

We feel free like sparrows in flight.
She teaches me
Just by their leaves, the names of fruit trees;
I tell her life is grand
She tells me only if I can stand
Tall from dawn to night.

We share an apple. I eat the core.
No, no she says, you must spit the seeds
And plant your dreams on barren soil in                                                                                                foreign shores.

I run my fingers through her hair,
Short, combed waves of softness,
She caresses my face,
Long, elegant, beautiful strokes
That paint a utopia we seem to share

We wipe the dust from our feet
Refreshed by the intensity of sprouting dreams
Roots planted a long time ago
Lacing the distance of our hearts.

I’ve missed you, I say.
I’ve missed me too, she says.
And in our reflection of who we want to see
We become the change we want to be
Am I child and she mother?
Or am I mother and she the child?

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Accountability-Be Answerable for Resulting Consequences.

 

Today, we mark the 107th anniversary of the first genocide of the 20th century, perpetrated against the Armenian people.

So much is happening across the globe in remembrance of that atrocity that reveals the humanity and goodwill of a people whose survival skills were honed by horrific experiences. We have transformed beyond the anger of protest and readily tell our one and a half million stories, recording them through innovative technology of USC researchers. Through our churches, we are baptizing adults who by no fault of their own were denied a faith that led their ancestors to perish, thus affirming further the Christianity that was ours by right of our history. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is growing. Celebrities are standing up and courageously speaking of the crime.  Marvel characters are referencing the Genocide specifically in the new Disney+ series Moon Knight. Universities are holding Armenian commemoration ceremonies, cities are devoting special public space for official declarations in recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and TV channels are including month long programs that highlight the contributions of Armenians to their cities and nation. And work is being done by the ANCA (Armenian National Committee of America) calling on Congress to pass the Armenian Genocide Education Act, introducing legislation to provide funding for the education in schools about the history, consequences and ongoing costs of the Armenian Genocide. The bill also aims to educate people about Turkey’s aggression and genocide against Greece, Syria, and Cyprus.

Yes, “The first Genocide of the 20th Century is gradually gaining its due validity in many countries, which, in the past, were very indifferent to our inalienable cause. Today, the expansion of those who affirm the crime of genocide has formed a greater contingent, led by the United States whose president officially recognized the Armenian Genocide a year ago.”  (106 years later!)

“We bow our heads in remembrance to the one and a half million martyrs and stand once again to renew our commitment to remain faithful to the memory of the victims and to thank the countries of the world that have recognized the great Armenian tragedy.”  Yet with all this recognition, “The inhumane atrocities committed against the Armenian people remain unpunished and the Turkish state refuses to face the dark pages of its history. Moreover, our heroic people in Artsakh face the danger of a new genocide by the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance.”

“The current situation in Artsakh and the rapidly evolving events in the region inevitably require all Armenians to be vigilant to prevent further attacks that seek to prohibit the civilian population of Armenia and the Armenians of Artsakh from maintaining their existence and self-determination.”

Here we are, “A century after the Armenian Genocide, the international community has yet to take a clear position. In other words, it has not taken punitive action to justify the freedom-loving peoples’ strife and struggle for a sovereign, free and peaceful life.”

At the time of its occurrence, in 1915, the American press and politicians had cried out lamenting the Armenian genocide. President Woodrow Wilson had said, “The whole heart of America has been engaged for Armenia.” But then, for geopolitical and economic gains, suddenly everything changed. And because of the lack of consequences to the perpetrators for what happened in Armenia, countries like Russia wage the horrific war we see today.

It was early April when Biden said Russia’s war in the Ukraine  amounted to genocide, accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to “wipe out Ukraine.” A year ago today, President Biden also said that the massacres of 1915 were a Genocide against the Armenians. Good as this may sound to console the human suffering, the world is paying the price for the inactions of a century. Had the demands of accountability been dealt with at the time, it could have prevented many other atrocities and genocides around the world including Ukraine.

Our history is full of empty rhetoric. The world did not hold Turkey accountable then and does not do so publicly even today while pogroms against Armenians continue.  In 2020, had the world acted to stop autocrats like Aliyev and Erdoğan in Azerbaijan’s brutal and unprovoked war against the Armenian people, when schools, hospitals and churches were bombed – causing countless civilian casualties – or had the international community sounded the alarm when Azerbaijan used a thermobaric weapon (vacuum bomb) against Armenian civilians in 2016, today’s wanton destruction in Ukraine may have been avoided.

The end goal of the Armenians has always been to prevent further crimes of genocide. To achieve this, Turkey must recognize its hand in the play and take appropriate steps to make amends. It is the only way to reparation. Autocrats like Erdogan, Aliyev and Putin will continue genocidal actions – from beheadings of people in Artsakh, to torturing of Armenian prisoners of war, and erasing all traces of centuries of Armenian existence; from bombarding innocent civilians in Kyiv to mass graves in Mariupol and erasing a Ukraine. These atrocities are happening right now, before our eyes.

The U.S. and the world must hold Turkey and Azerbaijan accountable. The U.S. and the world must hold Russia accountable. The U.S. must stop sending military aid to Turkey. The US and the world must recognize who their true allies are and not sell out their humanitarian principles of freedom, equality and justice for all.

This I humbly advise.

In this article, I used excerpts from the statement issued publicly by the three leading parties (Henchag, Tashnag and Ramgavar) of the Armenian people. They are written in quotation marks.

 

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Women Are the Storm

  1. Happy International Women’s Day to ALL mothers, sisters, daughters, spouses, friends. “Today is your day and mine, the only day that we have to play our part. What our part may signify in the great whole we may not understand, but we are here to play it, and now is our time.” (David Starr Jordan)
  2. March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day to honor and celebrate the women in our lives and those whose work has paved the way for so many of us. We have all been raised on the shoulders of one or more women who have embraced bravery despite personal or professional obstacles. Their persistence has made a powerful impact in our lives and that of the world. Through their work in the arts, education, healthcare, STEM, law, public service, policy implementation and more, women have fought for rights, telling their own stories and advocating for others. They have and continue to break barriers and challenge discrimination based on gender, economic status, sexual orientation and race in the name of equality. They are –enabler, nurturer, motivator, entrepreneur, believer, supporter, leader, optimist, powerful, legend– women who deserve our praise. They possess the tenacity and drive to step up to the podium and raise their voices so that others may find their voice. I applaud the women.

 

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