“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people… Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing, and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia”- William Saroyan
These words resonate within the hearts of many Armenians. We hear these words, read these lines and a sense of pride envelops us. William Saroyan is right… no one can destroy us! But, my question today is this—what if no other race can destroy us but we are destroying ourselves?
I don’t mean literally murdering ourselves, but rather killing ourselves as a culture, as a people, as a community. Times have changed and our wars and battles have changed. As Armenians in the Diaspora, our battles are no longer about land, wealth, or power but rather about preserving our culture and keeping the youth involved in Armenian activities (I define youth as being between the late teens to late twenties). Young Armenians have no trouble finding a place in their hearts for their heritage, ancestors, and history. But, unfortunately, it seems as though most young Armenians today don’t make time in their lives to help the Armenian cause.
After asking various members and leaders of the Armenian community, I received almost unanimous agreement that there is a decline in youth participation. They felt that the youth were no longer as involved or as active as in previous generations. The reasons varied from leadership to parenting to time. Something that affects all of these is priority. We always have time for things we think are important, whether it be family, school, work or even our favorite TV show.
The reasons why there is a decline in participation don’t matter — what matters is just getting our peers to make becoming more involved in the Armenian community a priority. William Saroyan wrote “For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” That means that we must meet, we must come together, and if everyone were to just contribute a little time, then we would be able to do so much more!
I write this because I care. I want to see progress and collaboration and am hoping that we can win this battle and live to tell the tale to future generations. I understand that we live in the 21st century, in the land of opportunity but I think we often take our heritage for granted, thinking, “I will chase my dreams today, and give back to the Armenian community tomorrow.” If we all continue to think that, then there won’t be an opportunity to help out tomorrow. Tomorrow will be too late and our heritage and culture will be lost.