By Edmond Y. Azadian
People who have suffered adversity are more prone to be sensitive towards other people’s suffering. Armenians, a people with a chain of calamities running throughout their history, had to be on the forefront of rendering help to others.
We complain that our pain has not been recognized universally and we make comparisons with Jews, whose Holocaust is never doubted. But we forget one aspect which makes a difference: wherever Jews emigrate, especially Europe and the US, they give generously to care for their own people, but they also go beyond their ethnic boundaries to do good for others. Especially, in the US, they participate in civic activities, contribute and support the arts and are on the boards of hospitals, universities, organizations and other entities that have no relation to their specific ethnic concerns. Those actions merit more visibility but that visibility is backed by a lot of donations and activism outside their specific subset.
Armenians, by contrast, hardly contribute to their own people’s issues much less to other causes and yet they expect to get the same recognition that the Jews get.
If we consider the annual Thanksgiving Day telethon of the Armenia Fund as a barometer of charitable giving, we have to be ashamed in front of the world. Not only is our collective generosity miserable but for every donor there are detractors who insult the givers as dopes, and the organization as a fraud. Armenia is on the verge of collapse. The country is still at war though there is a ceasefire on paper. Very few people stop to suggest that the war should be won first, with a united effort, before settling internal squabbles.
But there is good news. After 100 years of misery and introversion, fortunately some people have started to see the light, to do unto others, whatever we expect others to do for us. To move the spirit of charity to the next level and to give a universal scope to it.