By Edmond Y. Azadian
Why do Armenians gravitate away from their native land and live in far-away countries, overwhelmed with the nostalgia of the ancestral homeland? We seldom pose the question to ourselves and when we do, we always have cop-outs: we blame our neighbors, curse our conquerors and decry our enemies.
It is true, history has treated the Armenian people very harshly, for a number of reasons. As we try to enumerate or analyze those reasons, it never occurs to us to assess our own responsibility in shaping our destiny as one of the oldest nations on the planet. If one day we decide to delve into our own responsibility, perhaps we will begin to soberly plan our future.
The reason Armenian have not been able to become a dominant nation — except during Tigranes II reign in the first century BC — is our individualism. Individualism denotes self-reliance, self definition, independence and all the other positive attributes. But when contrasted with the collective will, catastrophe ensues.
Because of various depravations, victimizations and constant foreign domination, Armenians have developed a very strong individualist trait, which has always been in conflict with collective discipline, nation-building and focus on a common future. That is how they have survived through all the adversities of history.
During the dark ages, individualism was suppressed especially through religion, where eyes and hopes were diverted away from the individual to the sublime and to heaven, which religious leaders conveniently used to consolidate their hegemony over their subjects. It is no wonder that kings and rulers claimed divine lineage to legitimize their power over the masses.