BY REV. FR. KAREKIN BEDOURIAN
In the history of the universe, the year 2020 will be remembered for its various unique simulations and realities which have created distinctive feelings, challenges, and situations. The world has been through, and still is in a state of catastrophe due to the Coronavirus pandemic. People continue to suffer adversely with their health, finances, social, and psychological ordeals. Humanity altered many of its norms and mores for many, everyday, ordinary practices.
Despite all these obstacles, humanity strives to escape out of a conundrum, to continue living, to resume normal routines, and to adjust to its surroundings. Many norms and values have changed, and the way of life and social interactions have taken a sudden turn into an unknown mode. Hopelessness and external pressures have transformed lives of many with undesirable consequences. Many have taken these events seriously, while trying to adapt and overcome.
The Armenian people were not immune from all that happened. On the contrary, in the year 2020, Armenians had such an experience that it turned a new page in contemporary Armenian history, not bright, rather infamous, and deeply etched in the minds of every Armenian.
The Armenian people, whether in Armenia, Artsakh or the Diaspora, were affected in various ways due to the COVID-19, and suffered heavy losses. The unprecedented explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, in areas where also large number of Armenians lived, caused economic hardship and political turmoil. The Armenian people, as a collective body, felt the pain from Beirut and were shaken because an important center was affected. Despite all those difficulties, the Armenian community of Lebanon was resilient. In other Armenian Diaspora communities, such as in Syria, Armenians continued to encounter immeasurable difficulties, though they continue to exist and survive.
Furthermore, a major calamity of modern times occurred: the bloody conflict and war in Artsakh. The war took its toll on the peace-loving and harmless population. Thousands lost their lives; thousands of square kilometers of ancestral lands were lost. There are hundreds of missing or captured as prisoners. Innumerable losses were sustained, impacting the populace socially, financially and psychologically. Sadly, the Armenian Genocide was being repeated in modern times, in front of the eyes of numerous nations of the world which seemed to be oblivious to the severity of the situation. The Armenian nation is in mourning. The pain of loss is untreatable and unacceptable; however, it became one of the realities of the year 2020.
The suffering and pain are enormous; the wounds are deep and incurable. As a Christian nation, staying faithful to Christ’s teachings and words, and having a high reverence towards our nation, and as individuals or a group, we should not lose hope, we cannot succumb, and we should never weaken in our resolve. Such feelings have not been and never should be realized in our characters. Armenians have endured and have survived numerous massacres and the Genocide, thanks to a strong will which cannot be crushed nor subdued.
Armenians had their share in the pandemic affecting the world; however, the world did not share nor partake of what the Armenians have experienced: the feeling of loss and the consequences of the war. The continental crisis is a sign as to how one should live a meaningful and good life, knowing that the same life can be taken from us and vanish without a trace in the twinkling of an eye. These realities and challenges are to emphasize priorities for mankind, and the purpose of the life which God has granted to each one of us.
As a people dispersed across a wide world, we ought to think seriously about our collective priorities as a nation. How can we shape a nation with strong and unshakable principles and with solid foundations? We must ponder, think, and resolve the situation. Let us always remember and admit that we have not lost, because real defeat happens when the spirit and the will are broken. As long as we continue to be the guardians of our national integrity and honor, we will be victorious. The proof is in our thousands of years history.
The Apostle Paul has written a wonderful and consoling passage especially to each one of us in his letter to Romans 12.12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”
Let hope, patience and prayer be abundant in our lives. Let us live with the delight of hope, overcome all miseries with patience, and especially pray unceasingly to eternalize our lives of faith and identities.
By Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian is the pastor at Forty Martyrs Armenian Church in Orange County.