Preserving History of the Sky
As an Armenian American, recognition of the Armenian Genocide has been my cultural duty. Every year, I attended a flurry of church masses, lectures, fundraisers, and visits to the state capital throughout April in remembrance of the 1915 genocide. Now approaching the centennial anniversary, the pain of the Armenian people only continues to accrue residually. I firmly believe that achieving universal recognition for this hate crime would not only bring forth justice where it is due but also accomplish something monumental for my community: dissolving its unhealthy focus.
For most Armenians, the genocide represents more than just an atrocity; rather, it stands as the symbol of the past, present, and future of Armenian culture. After years of denial and the lasting effects of this horrific event on Armenians, many see the genocide as the most important aspect of the culture. My country, blessed with notable geography, cuisine, and art is so plagued by its history that Armenians refuse to celebrate the success of their people today. While focus is an honorable trait, the cost of dwelling on the past with little promise of progress has shown to be detrimental.
Around the world, victims of genocide rightfully ask for recognition of the crime committed as an essential step to healing an open wound. Without such healing, scars deepen and compel the victim to seek revenge. A desire for revenge is precisely what is brewing within the Armenian community. This unhealthy obsession only seems to cloud the judgment of the younger generation of Armenians which could at some point lead to irrational actions.
When I was 14, I decided to attend a summer camp for Armenian youth. At this camp, we listened to lectures about the genocide and how we can do our part, as young Armenians. Every day, the camp counselors preached how terrible and inhumane Turks of every generation are and the more they spoke the more heated and trusting the camp attendees were. Even I began wondering how people who slaughtered over a million individuals--and ignored the suffering it caused--could be anything but evil. But at this juncture, I realize that wishing ill will on the people who hurt the Armenians almost 100 years ago is far from progress. It is a step backward.
While I know the aftermath of the genocide will exist auspiciously forever, changing how we self-identify, I will strive to bring ease to my community by not only continuing my work as a respectful and forgiving advocate, but also as a "Watcher of the Sky," encouraging members of my community to celebrate their cultural identity without the burden of the genocide weighing them down.