BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
As the title suggests, this will be an atypical article. Since the Pilgrims arrival and survival at Plymouth Rock is being celebrated this week with the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve made up a list of things I am grateful for.
Hiking leads the list. What else could be so refreshing, energizing, healthful, therapeutic, and still be helpful Armenian-wise? Armenian Hikers Association (AHA) – Armenia has been founded and will work on fostering eco- and adventure- tourism in the homeland. A key aspect of this is the building, regularizing, and providing consistent signage for trails.
Much work has been done by dedicated people working on parallel efforts, and the Janabarh Trail which is primarily located in Artzakh, is already in use. Already, mountain bikers have ridden it and in a few months it will be run-and-biked. Of course biking, especially in the mountains is another thing to be grateful for, and for many of the same reasons as hiking. These two pastimes/sports can do much for the Republic of Armenia’s economy. One day, the network of trails built there will extend into liberated Western Armenia, too.
Now that we’re in Gars, Sasoon, Van, Kharpert, Cilicia, etc., it’s time to acknowledge and express a “beginning” thank you to those Kurds who have been doing many things right to atone and correct for their participation in the Genocide. While this is still likely largely most clear in the leadership’s mind, a generation from now, much will be different in Armeno-Kurdish relations if they follow this path. Of course we always have reminders of how the worst side of human nature can get in the way. Even in recent years, Kurds have expropriated Assyrians’ land and the rightful owners are trying to get their property back… shades of Christian-Moslem relations in the Ottoman Empire.
Another Turkey-based bit of gratitude is due given the absence of INCREASED, official/governmental harassment of Armenians (though instances of “civilian” hate crimes seem to be on the rise). Given the extremes towards which current policy is taking the country, things could have gotten (and still might get) much worse for our compatriots, especially those still living hidden or semi-hidden in our occupied homeland.
All of this suggests another area of gratitude. The world’s attention is focused on OUR part of the planet. This is an opportunity. We must prepare to move boldly yet sagely, to get our fair share as the current round of chaos settles down. I’m thankful for this opening and hope we take full advantage of it at all levels – political, social, economic, military, media, etc.
Moving to broader arenas of thankfulness, there is a human grouping for which I’m VERY grateful – smart people who also have consciences. These people are among the few bright spots I see in day to day life when so many people have succumbed to the blindness of money-grubbing greed and petty, mundane pursuits.
Another group of humans I really appreciate and thank are friends who donate to important causes when asked, especially when they don’t grumble too much after all the times I’ve approached them!
One human, no longer with us, to whom we all should be grateful is Tom Vartabedian. He just succumbed to cancer two weeks ago. The smiles and awareness he brought through his writing and community activism served all of us. I hope I can continue to write for as many years as he did. Heck, I might even steal one of his column-categories, thoughts-while-shaving, which I remember him using over the years. But in my case, I think it would more likely be thoughts-while-showering.
And finally, since the occasion for expressing all this gratitude is the quintessentially American holiday of Thanksgiving, nature must not be omitted. Contributing to the cuisines of all cultures are tomatoes, potatoes (what’s life without french fries?), chiles/peppers, and corn/maize – all of these were unknown in the Old World!
On an extremely individual note, I’m thankful for pine trees. I just love that plant!
What are your unnoticed points of gratitude?