By Nubar Dorian
The effort for the survival of our community started with the lending of the first Armenians to these shores. This sacred task is not abandoned and some of us feel that we have made great progress and continue to make strides. It is undeniably true that through intelligence, determination and passion, we overcame hunger, poverty, hopelessness and became proud and happy citizens of our beloved America. Presently we number over 1 million with our homes, churches, comforts, organizations, political parties, press and many-faceted activities.
Even a cursory review, however, should make us feel that all is not well and promising for the future well being of our community or it’s even questionable whether it will exist decades from now. Obviously some will disagree with this assessment and continue painting with rosy hues our present and future, but they will be simply sacrificing reason to illusion, emotion or wishful thinking. There is regretfully no serious public engagement with many problems, issues and challenges. All this leads to our no longer choosing between good and better, but rather, bad and worse. Here for instance are some glaring problems.
Comfort in Numbers
The number of Armenians in America has grown.We now claim to have a community with more than 1 million souls.We fail to recognize however that all this is not based on our actions but in the expense of reducing the number of Homeland Armenians who joined us to find security, jobs and comfort. In addition, many Armenians escaped the turmoil in the Middle East and joined our community. Lebanon, for instance, once known as “The Second Armenia” with close to 200,000 Armenians, now has a scant 40,000. It is sad to realize that there are fewer Armenians in the homeland than when Armenia declared Independence some 20 years ago. Once and for all we have to accept the fact the source for other Armenians to come to America is completely dried up, empty, ended, finished and dead.
The number of Armenian-Americans who are interested in Armenian history, language, culture and art has shrunk drastically. Most of us live in a family not surrounded by Armenian books, newspapers, photographs of Echmiadzin, Ararat or mementos of the Homeland. There are a huge number of our children who do not even know where Armenia is on the map and view, almost with scorn, all things Armenian. They declare themselves American! We must admit that a majority of us have gone soft on everything that is Armenian and certainly time is not a friend of ours.
Ever since we became an organized ethnic community in America, we brought with us division, different political views and convictions. We started becoming a community in the liberal sense, but in a moral sense we ceased to exist as a united, strong community. How can we hope to have a future in America without uniting our talents, toils and travails? With what agility of conscience and glibness of tongue can we explain the sordid division of our faith, church and worship? This situation has plagued us for the past 50 years. Shamefully, we seem to feel comfortable with this sordid division and have stopped even talking about it.