“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
I write to you this month with a shattered heart, a fractured soul and questioning what it means to be human. 2020 has brought us a lot to process as we move through several months of adversity with no end in sight. I believe adversity brings learning. It may be painful and hard to swallow, but if we choose to pay attention and build awareness, the learning comes, and we get better. I needed, we all needed this better to come yesterday. I feel like we are trapped in a nightmare, one that causes us to face who we are and when we finally see, I mean really see who we are, we see darkness. Somehow, hope has escaped us, and we are surrendering to fear and hate. How did we allowed this to happen? I believe this happened because we accepted the passage of time as the solution. Time does not make things go away or heal wounds. It becomes wasted if we stay complacent and allow the notion of it passing to manipulate our actions. Trauma and heartache do not magically vanish as time passes. They do not dissolve. When left open, wounds continue to bleed and as a collective we are bleeding and have forgotten how to compassionately heal these wounds.
To be human is to be surrounded in love and light. This is compassion and consciousness and allows us to live a higher existence. When the light is extinguished or blocked out by darkness, we fall to unfamiliar places that are guided by hate and fear. This is where we as a collective have gone. I am not saying people are bad, we have been misguided and lied to for so long that we have lost our humanity. Each of us must use our voice to reestablish the love and compassion that is true to our existence. We need to rise for one another because when one human heart breaks, they all break. It is impossible to stay whole when injustices and atrocities occur against humanity. We are connected and when we sit back and ignore the pain and suffering of another human being, we allow pain and suffering into our own lives.
I write a lot about the connection all human beings share and the strong connection between our common values of wanting to live in love, peace and hope. Fundamentally this connection, this need to be social and loved is what makes us human. When we allow a government, a religion, or misguided belief to move us from who we are and what we believe in we become lost, hopeless and complacent. We simply loose our humanity. This loss is happening, it has been happening and will continue to happen as long as we stay silent.
Over the past eight months we have each voiced our opinions and experiences as we live through COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement and now the presidential election. As Americans, we have all in some way been affected by the realities of each. We don’t want to see our friends and family get sick, we don’t want a large segment of the American population mistreated and unjustly denied basic rights every American deserves, and we certainly want a president who is capable and committed to upholding our constitution and the values so deeply etched into every word. We the People of the United States have lost sight of our more perfect Union, domestic tranquility is crumbling, common defense is being stripped away, general welfare no longer a concern, and securing the blessings of liberty no longer a priority.
On September 17, 1787 the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified. It has represented a standard for those living across the globe. It holds within its pages the American dream to live free and self-determined in peace and millions have come to our shores to live out their version of this dream. To live free of hate and violence, to be able to provide for their families and create a better life where they can experience the liberty and justice they did not in their homelands.
On September 27, 2020 my homeland of Armenia was violently attacked. I was born in the United States because my grandparents were driven out of Armenia during the genocide that occurred between 1915 and 1918. 1.5 million Armenians were brutally massacred at hands of the Ottoman Turks. Their lives were spared and every day I wake up grateful for the life I have knowing I was not supposed to exist, I am not supposed to have a dream or a purpose, and definitely not an American dream. Yet, I do have a dream. I have many. I dream that one day we will all know justice and will understand what it means to live free, to live self-determined and to live surrounded in love.
Armenia is an ancient and historically significant nation, the first Christian nation, with an extremely rich culture, its own language and alphabet and a population with a strong and proud ethnic identity. It does not export oil, is not a monetarily wealthy nation and in global politics its voice is silenced. Armenia is a democratic nation of 3 million tucked away in the Caucasus region surrounded by hostile neighbors. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union it has protected the right of the 170,000 Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determine and be an independent democracy.
Because of the hatred the Turks and Azeris have toward Armenians, a second genocide of my people is currently occurring. I sit in my office and type this blog without having to hear the sound of bombs, without be shot, dismembered from shelling, or killed from an illegal kamikaze drone flying over my home. I am not going to be taken prisoner, beaten, and beheaded. I dream that one day no human being will ever have to know the absolute pain and suffering that exists when governments rule with hate. I dream for every human being to know justice and liberty and the power within their own voice.
I’m not writing solely on the violence confronting the Armenian people and the silence of the United States on the issue. It is about who we have become as human beings and whether we will choose to stop being complacent. It is snapshot of the injustices that exist across our nation and across the globe. It is about becoming more aware, learning about the pain and suffering of others, educating ourselves about different cultures and not allowing hatred and fear to govern us. The lack of empathy and knowledge causes complacency and dehumanizes those who are different. Believing we are separate is indeed an optical delusion of consciousness. We need each other, we always have, it is our strength. Letting adversity and corruption tear us apart weakness us, allows the corrupt to represent us and corruption to rule us.
Become aware, become compassionate and use your voice to insure justice for every human being. Use your voice to stand up for the values etched into the United States Constitution. Rise up against brutality and hate. I will continue to dream of a world led by empathy, tolerance and kindness. I know I am not trapped in a nightmare. And I know I am not magically going to wake up to an ideal world. My dream will take work. There must be a commitment to being humane, a commitment to humanity, and a commitment to wanting better. Each and every one of us needs to be committed to securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” It is the way we will become more perfect and regain our humanity. There is nothing more terrifying than forgetting how to be human and losing sight of the truth that existences within you. It’s time to use your voice. It is time to rise for Armenia and rise for a just world. Love, peace and hope will win. We will win.