Cut My Branches, Burn My Leaves, But You Will Never Touch My Roots.
It is not uncommon to hear certain pundits sound off about how Armenians are too ‘hung up’ on the Genocide. It is said that 1915 has become the sole ‘obsession’ of Armenians, especially in the Diaspora.
Whether discussing genocide resolutions or the recent Turkey-Armenia Protocols, Armenians are told they need to “move beyond” the Genocide issue and put more emphasis on things like culture or helping the homeland. Sadly, at times, it is fellow Armenians pontificating these notions.
The underlying assumption here is that commemorating and working on attaining justice for the Genocide somehow takes away from other aspects of Armenian identity; we are supposed to believe that we must focus less on the Genocide in order to highlight other aspects of our history and culture.
But the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, strengthening and advancing our culture is part of the resistance against the Genocidal process itself.
After all, the motivation behind the Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government was to erase all trace of Armenian identity from the face of the earth. Fighting against this means not only bearing witness to these crimes and demanding real justice, but also bolstering and reviving our rich heritage and culture.
With over 2/3 of our people dispersed outside of the homeland, we face the constant threat of acculturation and assimilation within our host countries. The loss of our native language, cultural traditions, and eventually our identity as Armenians is a very real challenge we must deal with everyday.
We can choose to confront this challenge in one of two ways: hold on to conventional practices and strictly defined notions of Armenian identity or carve a new path which embraces modern influences and seeks to reinvigorate our traditions in the context of the 21st century.
Our history is analogous to the life of an old wise tree. It has been through much: it has seen drought, it has withstood torrential rain, it has been cut with every imaginable ax, it has been burnt and wounded…but its strong, unwavering roots will ensure a new spring, and a new rebirth.
Invigorated by our roots, a new generation will grow and develop itself to bear the fruits of our future.