Commentary: Money and Morality

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A Tribute to Kevork Hovnanian
By Nubar Dorian

It was a slow, soft, misty rainy day when I read of Kevork Hovnanian’s death. I kept on looking at the sky and wondered if Armenians in their heaven were joining us in mourning and shedding tears for his passing. Kevork was well known all across the oceans by all Armenian and was greatly admired, respected and loved not for his wealth alone but for his exemplary dedication, immersion and leadership for all good causes.

We all know the endless confrontation between money and morality. Surely, it is a battle, which almost always leads to doubt and speculation as to their ultimate value, purpose, reality and worth. Undeniably, there are some who swim in money and luxury and when they contribute to a good cause it is just a flash to buy respect, position or fame. There are a select few, who, like Kevork, not only give money, huge sums of money, but morality as well by actively participating, planning and more often leading with exemplary dedication.
I had met Kevork at our Diocesan offices, and a few times at Annual Diocesan Assemblies and some other affairs. We were not friends. I had not been at his home, nor he in mine. But most certainly I knew his passion, his wisdom, his dedication and his leadership qualities. Most of all I knew his exemplary humility and his genuine shyness towards praise, accolades and his deep love for his Armenian heritage and his lofty dreams for the homeland and her future.

The strength and durability of any diaspora community depend on the leadership of wise, exemplary, dedicated and visionary individuals. Kevork had all these qualities and his death reminds us the relevance of his loss. We live in a world of reality and as William Faulkner wrote “the past is never past.” Unlike self-proclaimed leadership of some as stable as a passing cloud, Kevork’s was as solid as a rock to embrace. God in Heaven knows we will miss him.

Our community does not have the luxury of losing more “Kevorks.” It would be paganism to fall on our knees and ask Providence to replace him. Only a united, strong, harmonious and dedicated visionary community with a healthy, tradition-oriented Armenian family can prepare leaders. The entire Hovnanian family is indeed the finest example within the Armenian diaspora.

No distance, no birthplace, no environment can wash clean the Hovnanian families of their inheritance. The sound of an Armenian sonnet, the words of an Armenian poem, the chants of our Liturgy, the aroma of Armenian food, the hills, mountains, hamlets and lakes of Armenia all combine to make clear to them that somehow, sometime, so much has gone into the making of Armenian history with her endless seasons of suffering, sacrifice, genocide, exile and exodus. Armenian blood was in the arteries and veins of Kevork and fortunately it continues to stubbornly adhere in the veins of all the remaining Hovnanians.

No pen can find adequate words to do justice in praise of Kevork. Same would apply to his brothers Hrair and Vahakn and their families. I simply join thousands who paid well-deserved homage and praise to Kevork and feel certain that God welcomed him to His heaven with a firm embrace.

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(Nubar Dorian is one of the former co-chairs of the Armenian Assembly of Armenia. He is a resident of New Jersey.)