BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Here I sit, just hours from the absolute deadline for getting this piece in to Asbarez. My editor rightly hates me when I do this. But for a change, I’m actually glad I delayed so much to write my weekly article, else, all the pieces would not have come together.
Only a few hours earlier, I’d felt a bit drowsy and put off writing what I had in mind until the morning. That turned out well since Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” radio program added the last, missing piece.
Last night, I’d just seen Vahe Berberian’s latest production Gyank. It is truly a MUST see. And, by the time you read this, at best, there’ll be only three showings remaining, and more likely two or even just one. If you’re in the LA, don’t miss it!
It was cathartic, discomfiting, inspiring, maddening, thought provoking, true-to-life, unsettling, and very current/appropriate to our reality— human, Armenian, and Diasporan. Did I mention? You MUST see it.
I don’t want to give away the plot, so I’ll write minimally about that: it’s about a family of four and the grandmother, going through familial trials and tribulations, but with a twist of a searing consciousness. This consciousness, and its sometime suppression, creates the plot.
The consciousness doesn’t end with this family’s upheaval, but is evocative of what many of us go through (or should go through) as individuals. It’s also applicable to the soul searching we should be doing as a nation, given our current realities.
While it’s cold comfort to know it, we are not alone in this predicament. Enter, “Democracy Now”. Alice Walker, the award winning novelist was a guest, and she spoke to the lack of awareness of the societal disease of racism which still plagues the U.S. This was discussed in the context of Trayvon Martin’s murder in Florida a few weeks ago. For those who have missed it, Trayvon was a 17 year old black kid who was gunned down because, put simply, he had the wrong color skin for the neighborhood he was walking around in.
This triggered the memory of Sevag Şahin Balıkçı (the Turkish rendering of what should be Shaheen Balikjee), an Armenian serving as a private in the Turkish army, killed by one of his comrades-in-arms. (Now do you see why I’m glad I delayed writing this piece?) Put simply, he was of the wrong nationality for the country whose army he was serving in.
Turks and U.S. citizens are largely oblivious to why these two shootings are wrong, if these tragedies even register in their minds for any length of time whatsoever. Unfortunately, Armenians, too, may be at a point in our collective (sub)consciousness that these things barely register as a blip, even the Armenian kid killed in the Turkish army, because it’s “natural” for Turks to kill Armenians, no surprise there. Similarly, at a very insidious level, it’s “natural” for black kids to be killed.
How depraved is all this? How disgusting! How unacceptable! Yet, here it is, in plain sight.
It must stop— in Turkey, in the U.S., anywhere! But that’s up to us. We must become more conscious, and live more consciously, then act on that consciousness. And Vahe Berberian’s play, Gyank, can help you along that route. Did I mention? You MUST go see it!