What shall be after the centennial of the Armenian Genocide?
Perhaps, we will not know it in the coming years. We may not feel it even within this decade. But clearly the “After Centennial” will be a turning point not only from a purely historical perspective but also, hopefully, in the consciousness of the people.
How does it feel to be a hundred years away from the Genocide? Perhaps, mostly in the same way as it was last year, ten or 50 years ago. We perceive ourselves as the victims of the most grievous crime which was targeted not only against Armenians, but rather against all of humanity and humaneness as a whole.
Nonetheless, the question that I wonder about most is how we shall feel after the century will pass. Shall the changes in human development, social progress, perception of ourselves as human beings make us leave this tragedy behind? Yes. Though only to a certain degree. Threats, fear, anxiety have to be thrown away, yet the memory of the past itself must be kept eternally.
At the same time, we must have the freedom to dream about a better future and to practically realize our most miraculous hopes and visions. Comprehending the past without burdening our minds with the weights of sadness and dismay is the only way of achieving the aforementioned.
In that respect, we cannot appeal to the Genocide as something that is inherently tied with our nature as a people. That is the wrong approach in my firm conviction. There have been Armenians, history, and Armenian history long before the centurial tragedy. It is a history that has filled infinite pages with glory, unbelievable bravery, spectacular wisdom, and marvelous strivings aimed at preserving the value of own culture.
Today, those pages seem vague and distant, separated from us by the absence of the people from those times. Nevertheless, the factual knowledge of our history (with or without the personal interpretation of the former) assures us of their existence in our persistent feeling of attachment to Tigran Mets, Ashot Erkat, Mesrop Mashtots, Vardan Mamikonyan, Sayat Nova, Mkhitar Sebastatsi, Khachatur Abovyan, et al. and to their glorious deeds and genius.
We survived genocide and must continue living. We experienced fear and must become fearless. We need to dispose of the shadow of the Genocide by building a strong, united, and enrooted psychology of victors and not victims. Thus, and only thus, should new dangers be challenged, new mistakes tackled, and new, bright, and grand hopes born.