BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
There are those who seek it, and know it not. There are those who once were there and should return. There are those who deny it, yet in truth, belong.
I am speaking of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
I have encountered countless people who are ideologically essentially a perfect fit in the ARF. They get together and have heated, heartfelt discussions with others like themselves. They are active politically or societally. They care deeply about Armenian issues. They are motivated by the impulse to improve the human condition. There are even people who know full well what the ARF is about and know they would mesh with it very smoothly. Yet somehow, these people who are every bit as much a Tashnagtzagan in heart, soul, and thought as I am, have not found their way in.
The number of those who were once in the ARF, and now are not, is legion. The causes are varied, some reasonable and understandable, others not. Some are still out due to the emigration rules of the 1970s and 1980s. Others simply did not have the time to be active and dropped out. Still others are out because of what boils down to personality clashes. Obviously, some had fundamental differences with the organization and left or were expelled—these cases sadden me, but are to be expected in the political world, and I speak not of this class of people.
The third group is the most difficult. These are people who for some reason or another have a problem with the organization, which, upon real scrutiny, turns out to be a mirage. Some have what I’ll call an inherited aversion. For various reasons, their parents or grandparents were in opposition to the ARF. Yet they (the current generation) have never looked beyond their family’s stories to see what the ARF is about and simply carry on that oppositional approach. Others complain of the ARF’s approach rather than the substance of the issues. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that many who fall into this group share the characteristics they complain about the ARF having! Still others have a generational or geographic aversion. I have heard comments to the effect of “the ARF is old school, not current and modernized” (can’t that be said of any institution, organization, or political party that has existed more than a quarter of a century?), or that the ARF “is a Middle Eastern organization” and doesn’t fit in the West (by that measure Catholicism shouldn’t exist beyond Italy, nor capitalism much beyond Great Britain and Western Europe).
So whether you are interested in national issues, social justice, or are just plain a political animal; whether you’ve never checked out the ARF, were once a member and now aren’t, or if you think it’s the worst thing to appear on the Armenian scene since Vasag Siuni; please, take a good look, and join us, we’ll all be better off.