Commentary: The Century's Red Herring - 1999

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The Century’s Red Herring

Commentary by C. K. Garabed

Published in the Armenian Reporter International

June 19, 1999

There is a malaise that has infected the Armenian-American community, which can best be described as a sickness at heart. The roots of the ailment are not readily discernable, particularly as its symptoms take on the appearance of church disunity and the mixing of religion and politics.

But these are mere symptoms, and to mistake them for the illness is to commit a grave error. Yet this is exactly what goes on and for a very good reason. That reason is the inability of willful refusal of our people to face up to the basic problem that causes so much subconscious anxiety. And that is the perilous state of our Armenian culture.

Look about you. What do you see? Are the younger generations following in the footsteps of the older ones? Do they speak Armenian? Or even understand it? Do they sing any Armenian songs, dance Armenian dances, or recite Armenian poetry? Do they utter exclamations in the Armenian tongue? Do they take an interest in Armenian history, architecture, or folk art? In short, are they steeped in practicing the Armenian culture or are they well along the road to assimilation?

As the younger generations drift away from the church, their parents and grandparents are desperately trying to stem the tide. And what can be heard as possible solutions for bringing them back into the fold? More English, less Armenian! Even to the extent of recommending that the entire Badarak be rendered in English!

Perhaps we can be persuaded to see that church unity is not our highest priority but rather the perpetuation of our Armenian culture and identity. Otherwise, we may be laboring to preserve a hollow institution, an edifice that will have been ethnically self-cleansed.