Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Chairman Ken Hachikian called on Armenians worldwide to choose survival over surrender, in his remarks before federal, state, and local public officials, a broad array of coalition partners, and hundreds of community leaders gathered on November 8th at the Pasadena Convention Center for the ANC-Western Region’s annual banquet.
The full text of Hachikian’s remarks, At the Crossroads, is provided below.
At the Crossroads
As Armenians, we have reached a crossroads.
Two paths – two very different paths – lay before us.
Two starkly different roads for our nation. For our cause. And for our future Standing here today at this cross road, we must make a choice.
One that will define our nation for decades, even centuries, to come.
A choice that begins in our hearts. And calls upon all our collective wisdom.
A choice of vision, born of long years of hard struggle
- A choice of courage, inspired by our enduring commitment to our nation’s future.
- A choice to move forward. A choice, very simply, between survival and surrender.
Survival and surrender
For let there be no mistake, these are the true stakes.
The choice before us stands as a great burden.
But also as a sacred blessing. A chance to get it right for future generations.
A choice for all those gathered here inside these walls –and for all the sons and daughters of our nation, in Armenia and across the far reaches of our world-wide Diaspora.
At this fateful moment, I am reminded of the words of the American revolutionary, Thomas Paine.
In his great work, The American Crisis, he offered powerful words that offer us keen insight and inspiration.
In the early days of the Revolution, he came across a well-known man who ran a tavern.
Standing in its doorway, with his young son by his side, this tavern-keeper argued against seeking independence, ending with the words:
“Give me peace in my day.”
“Give me peace in my day.”
A more generous parent, Paine wrote, should have said: “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”
Consider carefully his words from more than two hundred years ago, on a continent far from Armenia, for they ring just as true today as when they were first written.
Just as compelling for Armenians as for Americans or for any free people.
“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”
“This single reflection,” Paine added, “is sufficient to awaken every man to duty.”
He understood that the true choice facing the American colonists was not peace or war, but rather where the burdens of the coming conflict–the inevitable oppression and aggression–visited upon them by the British would rest.
Whether upon the shoulders of his generation or upon those of generations to come.
These truly are “the times that try men’s souls.”
The tavern-keepers of our day argue that the path they advocate will lead to peace and prosperity, when, in reality, it only defers the day when our nation will pay the full price for their surrender.
- They would have us accept – under foreign pressure – the “Protocols” being forced upon the Armenian nation, even though they clearly threaten Armenia’s security, abandon the rights of all Armenians, and cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide.
- They would have us adopt the Madrid Principles, which trade the surrender of vast Armenian lands, today, in return for a vague promise that Azerbaijan may someday allow a decision on Artsakh’s future status.
- They would have us reduce the Armenian Genocide from a crime against all humanity – one that must be recognized by the American government and resolved truthfully and justly by the international community and, of course by Turkey, – to a simple bilateral dispute to be negotiated between states, states of vastly unequal power.
This is clearly the road to an unconditional surrender my friends, the path to appeasement, and the slippery slope of accommodation.
On this path, we would allow others to speak in our name.
We would let them set our aims to suit their interests, not our own. To put us in our place.
It is on this road that we would see the Armenian Diaspora, long the loyal watchdog of Armenian interests, reduced to a lapdog for the foreign powers that pursue their own advantage at the expense of the rights, the security, and the very future of the Armenian nation and people.
Let me be clear: It is on this road that we will witness the death of the Armenian Cause and, with it, the viability of the Armenian nation.
The choice, for us, for every single one of us, is clear.
We must reject retreat.
We must dispense with the illusions of easy answers.
We must reject the temptation that there is some quick shortcut to Armenia’s security, Artsakh’s freedom, or the realization of our national aspirations.
We must reject surrender – on the Protocols, the Madrid Principles, justice for our nation, and freedom for our people – and choose instead a path forward based on hope and wisdom, not fear.
We must, in our homeland and here in America, reclaim the right to our voice and our values.
And back all this up with our activism, our political power, our energy, and our resources.
Just as you are doing tonight, and as we must all do in days and weeks ahead.
We must keep our national aspirations burning bright, our moral compass aligned toward justice, and our nation moving forward.
We must choose survival, not surrender.
Survival, not surrender.
There is no other choice.
I call upon you to join us in that struggle.
We will persevere.