The Psychology of 100


By Alin K. GregorianAline-Gregorian

I have spent a lifetime hearing about the events of 1915 and I can say that this is an anniversary whose commemoration I have both looked forward to and dreaded.

It is the ultimate round number, giving us an opportunity for an impressive commemoration as well as possibly marking the end of an era of remembrance.

The coverage of the events, as well as the community-wide cooperation among many Armenian groups, has been heartening. Many international leaders, including Pope Francis, have stepped up and put the focus of the world, not just the Armenian diaspora and the Republic of Armenia, on the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Major publications, such as the Washington Post and New York Times, have come out with more affirmative editorials than ever before on the subject and the importance of its proper labeling and commemoration.

In this year of positive developments, even reality stars such as the Kardashian family was able to bring dignity and recognition not only to the Armenian Genocide, but the country of Armenia, as a fun and vital destination. Of course, Armenia and our hard-won Artsakh face danger every day and it is our duty to make sure that the Azeri government does not weaken them by constant aggression and a blockade that weakens its economy.

It is a sad commentary on our society that serious and worthy Genocide scholars are not able to bring their message to a mass audience, but a lowbrow program can.

It is also empowering that events commemorating the anniversary of these horrific events are spread throughout the year, so that post-April 24, the issue is not forgotten. For example, major commemorative programs are scheduled to take place in Washington in May, including a joint mass at the National Cathedral.

A century is a time span that gives us enough distance to have even better perspective on the events. The mind-numbing acts of violence, the sheer and enthusiastic brutality against those least capable of defending themselves has been captured this year in dozens of books that pay homage to the spirit of survival that many of those carried. Films, music and various other art forms have recorded for posterity our people’s collective pain.

The Armenian Diaspora has come a long way. From those haunting images of women and children with distended bellies, dying in front of us, to beheaded men, we have become success stories across the world. Unfortunately, it seems much of our success is individual rather than collective, yet those days are clearly behind us.

Should it matter to us if Turkey or the US does not recognize the Armenian Genocide? Yes and no. What matters is that we are bringing the truth to more and more people — sources that can spread the word.

And what happens in April 2016? Let’s hope that the energetic spirit of so many young people, Armenians and non-Armenians, will endure. Is it possible that Turkey will recognize the Genocide? It is highly unlikely, since with acceptance comes consequences. While getting back any of the Armenian lands may be almost impossible, Armenian families can file suits against the government and certain families for usurping their wealth after they were forcibly deported. After all, the wealth that the Armenians left behind in Turkey is equivalent to trillions in today’s dollars.

It seems after the debacle of last year’s apology issued by the Turkish president, they have changed course and now promote a narrative of deaths among both Armenians and Turks during World War I, while also suggesting that Armenians were traitors who sided with the Russian enemy and rose up against the authorities. In other words, we didn’t do anything and they deserved it.

Let’s celebrate the spirit that is alive and well in us, our children who speak Armenian, adults who reclaim their heritage and Turkish citizens who are right along us, fighting for truth and recognition.