Hopefully, we give thanks

by Paul Chaderjian
Armenian Reporter editorial
Thanksgiving 2008

As we take time to reflect and express our gratitude this Thanksgiving week, we are first grateful that you have made the Armenian Reporter a part of your Armenian experience.

We are also grateful that we have learned from our forebears the idea of hope: that what we want individually and collectively will come to be and that circumstances and situations will always evolve to serve the greater good.

We are grateful that generations of our ancestors had been hopeful and allowed us to pass this foundation of our identity to the next generation of Armenian-Americans.

This four-letter word, hope, is an easy yet powerful concept that has kept our people on track through good times and bad, through blessings and catastrophes, poverty and prosperity, through oppression and persecution, foreign rule and independence; and for having hope, we are grateful.

Hope is the attitude that has made us and makes us redouble our efforts and makes it possible to endure whatever challenges we face or have faced through financial hardships, illnesses, political violence, war, and natural disasters, through psychological traumas, interpersonal dramas and conflicts, and through difference of opinion.

Hope is perhaps the greatest blessings we have as humans, and for this we are grateful.
It was hope and faith that turned our people to Christianity – a king believing he would be healed. It was hope of emancipation from the Turks, Persians, Soviets, and others that kept our language, culture, and heritage alive.

It was the hope of our forebears who dreamed of a return to the homeland from faraway places, from Europe, India, and the Middle East that fueled diaspora-Armenian efforts to remain true to their ethnicity, their identity, and their religion.

It was hope that helped mothers, wives, and children survive the months and years they spent waiting for the return of family members who had traveled far as migrant workers.

Hope was what made revolutionaries in Madras dream about an emancipated homeland and write constitutions to ensure the survival of the diaspora.

Hope was what drove our fedayees – freedom fighters – to take up arms to protect their people and seek safety when their lives and culture were threatened.

It was hope that was tested and survived in the sands of Der Zor, in the waters that turned the river red and filled foreign ships with naked survivors.

Hope is what drove those deportees who faced certain death to hold on to life, to endure the curses of the evil pashas. Hope brought us out of the dark and into the light.

Hope for survival was all the eyewitnesses of the catastrophe had watching their brothers and sisters burning, being raped, and cut into pieces by the barbarian that tried to destroy a people.

Hope made us survivors, strengthened our character, toughened our spirit, and prepared us for the decades to follow. Hope as an Armenian character, the Armenian nature, is what helped us see through the dust of the 1988 earthquake.

It was hope that got the orphans out of bed each morning at the Bird’s Nest Orphanage, fueled the street sweepers in Beirut, made the factory workers show up on time in the Americas, empowered the grape workers and stoned-faced stone fruit pickers in California, the jewelers, tailors, and diamond cutters in souks in the Middle East, the tobacco farmers, gold miners, and tannery workers in India, and rug merchants traveling the Silk Road, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean.

It was hope for the good life – of abundance, of survival, of a safe home, a warm hearth, of good health, laughter, and happiness – that drove our people to the next day and then the next. It was hope for love, laughter, family, friendships, reunions, and returns. Whether they had it and wanted it again or dreamed of it for a future day or prayed their bliss would continue – it was all hope.

It was with hope that diaspora-Armenians built their schools, their athletic organizations, their churches, and their political parties.

It was hope that drove us together, banded us against assimilation quoting Nareg and Saroyan, allowed us to succeed in the czar’s court, in Great Britain, in the Emirates, and beyond.

It was hope of survival as a people that kept “White Genocide” at bay. It was hope of a return to the homeland that nurtured generations and trained them to love the ethereal idea of a homeland.

In the homeland, when there was oppression, there was hope. When there was independence and no food or fuel, there was hope.

There was hope in the first, second, and third republics of Armenia. There was hope in Nagorno-Karabakh. There was always hope that there would be light in the dark, that there would be trade, peace, growth, freedom, and artistic expression. There was always hope. Because there was a diaspora, there was more hope.

It is hope that moves the benevolence of our people – those who can afford to give a lot, and those who can afford to give less. It is hope that causes so many of us to invest in our resurgent homeland.

Hope is what helped our people until the tempering of the Russian bear, through civil war in Lebanon, revolution in Iran, and a terror attack and natural disasters in the United States.

There is hope that our churches will unite, our old hurts will be nothing but fiction, and other nations will not determine our collective fate and our national or diaspora agenda.

Through recessions and depressions, through famine and feast, disease and adolescent stamina, during the liberation war, through the cold, dark winters, through blockades, it was hope that pumped the blood through our veins.

This hope was and is for better a tomorrow, for times that will be like the best years of our lives or times better than any other times we have experienced.

It is hope for freedom, for good health, for not being in need, for economic prosperity, for success, for employment.

It is hope for days of joy and celebration with family and friends, hope for speaking and teaching our language without shame, for carrying our surnames without truncation, for building our churches and worshipping without fear.

This hope is for a day, days, months, and years where we are so happy that we dance giddily with gratitude.

Hope is what we should be most grateful for this Thanksgiving week. Hope is the knowing that where there is war and violence, peace and civility are not far behind.

Hope is knowing that when there is Genocide denial, there are also champions of recognition and CNN documentaries, and bold researchers to prove to the world time and again the truth of the great atrocities.

Hope lived and lives in our people through our songs, our poetry, our art – and through the pages of this newspaper. Hope makes us believe we will be accepted, respected, loved, and acknowledged. Hope is what makes us human, patient, and thankful.

It was hope and is hope that the injustice that befell us will be righted, that those who lie to us, cheat us, and steal from us will acknowledge their mistakes and ask for forgiveness.

It is with hope that we ask you to keep hope in your mind, think of it in all situations, and be grateful that we have hope. Be grateful that we can survive all the hurdles and obstacles, the good and the bad, and celebrate many more Thanksgivings to come through the simple idea of hope.