BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address said it best, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…,” having himself borrowed the concept from Francis Bacon —philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist and author— who had enunciated it four centuries earlier.
Everyone knows this quote and it is often bandied about. Yet, we often do not abide by it. Currently, our nation, or at least a significant segment of its Diasporan portion, seems to be living in violation of this axiom.
I’ve heard four different rationales from people who are afraid to get out there, shake things up regarding the oligarchs who are running the Republic of Armenia into the ground, and engage as broad a swath of concerned, caring, non-Armenians as possible. Just look at some of the postings under news items and opinion pieces about the Avetian murder and you’ll see these themes. Ultimately none of them hold up to close scrutiny.
Some compatriots fear repercussions in the form of harm being brought upon relatives in the RoA. Others fear creating instability in the process of replacing the oligarchs with decent leadership, especially in times such as these with Azerbaijan constantly threatening war. Pride is the guiding concern for some who do not want to “air our dirty laundry” in front of others. Manipulation/meddling by the great powers is the final argument I’ve heard from those who advocate a very cautious approach to addressing the ills of the oligarchs.
On a very basic level, these concerns fail the test of success. They all allow a bad situation to continue longer than it otherwise is likely to. No one opposes action to remediate the oligarch problem. It’s just that all of those expressing concerns advocate such a “go slow” approach that the roots of the problem are allowed to propagate underground while the top of the weed is removed, only to see it sprout elsewhere. It’s like treating cancer with salves and band-aids instead of chemotherapy. The latter hurts, but it addresses the affliction.
Harm to relatives is a valid concern, though probably overstated. Ultimately, if the situation isn’t remedied, they will be living in harm’s way constantly. Similarly, instability and opportunities for meddling also attends the oligarchs. For as long as they hold sway over the RoA’s polity, since they do not enjoy true popular support, they will be prone to seek external support, thus rendering them subject to meddlers’ manipulation, which in turn causes political instability and weakness. Wounded pride, often as a result of the focusing media attention on the nasty doings of the oligarchs, is hardly a reason not to deal with problem. This holds true even if the media’s reporting allows hate-mongering, anti-Armenian bigots in places such as Glendale to crow about how “bad” Armenians are.
Let’s solve the problem of over-powerful individuals in Armenia, and we’ll eliminate the cause of the concerns of those who want to address this matter too slowly, effectively perpetuating it.
On an unrelated note, don’t forget to go see the play about Komitas playing through August 19 at the Atwater Village theatre. I caught it last weekend. I learned a few things about our music’s savior and found it interesting. It’s in English, so you can bring your non-Armenian friends too. My only beef with it was the chronological presentation. Because the story was told going back and forth in time, it came off being a bit choppy. But heck, Armenian theatre is always worth checking out. Go see it.