I and You

By Aram Matevosyan


Two compatriots, who joined the movement in 1988 from the same point “A,” could not even imagined that 20 years later they would find themselves at the shore of the Lke Sevan and observe how the level of its water is growing: one from the balcony of his villa, and the other from the depths of homeless and desperate poverty, standing on the stony shore. Years after they are preoccupied with the thoughts: one thinks about how to move the stone wall  for a couple of meters more, and the other ponders about the  crayfishes, moving  deep into the lake … At the same time, a holiday is in progress in Artsakh.

The Artsakh President declared about the trilateral unity on the 20th anniversary of the independence. However, let as put aside the coat of arms, the flag, the army, etcetera, and try to get deep into the formula, uniting those two men on the shore and the human masses, occupying the spaces of Armenia, Artsakh and Diaspora.  You can say that there is a long-established inter-connection between them, possessing a systemic and institutional nature, and the words of the Artsakh President are based just on it. Maybe you are quite right … But I am inclined to think that we are on the brink of establishing new relations.

I would not doubt the high quality of the already established relations, had the feelings of our compatriots, observing the lake of Sevan from different shores and our attitude to each other remained on the level of February days of 1988. But now we have much more antagonism between them, if not enmity. There is always a conflict, be it open or latent, in every nation. The conflict between the wealthy and the have-nots cannot be hidden by any curtain.

Such hollow slogans as one nation, one culture, national solidarity, etc., have proved to be nonviable. We have to find out some other components of consolidation. For example? Let say, an interest, a simple human interest.

Only the vital interest, stemming from the fact that they are Armenians, can unite Armenians, living in the Diaspora, Artsakh and Armenia. The Jewish people have found their interest of the Jewish existence. I have not met Jews, occupied with unskilled labor or living indecent life. They are mainly bankers, doctors, lawyers or musicians, in the worst case they are thinkers, founders of philosophical trends. They have become such, helping each other at home, and all the more, in the outside world. Their mutual support is based on simple realities: the memory, which obliges …

As it has turned out, our memory does not oblige.

In one case the past discredits the man, in the other – it fills him up with a meaning. The difference is purely in the contents.  It is just because of that difference that we have failed an excellent idea of the dual citizenship. The idea and the goal of the one who gave birth to such a concept was not that the Armenians, living in the homeland, should become subjects of other states, but rather to let the Armenians, subjects of other countries, find their historical memory, national belonging, and let them shape the notion of the collective interest on the basis of that memory and identity.

A collective interest, and only then, the family and personal interest: only this distinguishes a nation from a tribe. Who of the “elite” people, residing in Armenia or Artsakh, live with a collective interest? Can we speak about any solidarity in the country, where a family interest reigns, shamefully covered by symbols? A passport, a flag or a hymn – they are just symbols, my dear ones. If a Christian nation with a 1700 year long history is guided by a personal and family interest, it does not worth expecting more from the secular elite.

At the level of individuals, predominantly living abroad, the sense of the collective interest is felt poorly, and it is not enough to take the shape of the all-national quality. Investments are coming, but no-one knows where from and why.

We must stop constructing churches abroad, which has already become an end in itself. A church is nothing but a place to get together, my dear ones, no more, just like, for example, a  guest house in Tsakhkadzor, where  children come from every corner of the world, and it is much more useful than church liturgies.

It is necessary to invest into a concrete person, young people. Our dear benefactors from Diaspora, you can be sure that the money you have trusted to the political elite in the homeland will be used for erection of the fortress walls around their mansions. But if you know what your money will be used for, if you have found a type people, appropriate for cooperation, then do not impose statehood thinking on ordinary people, but throw away the illusion of the national consent for ever. As you understand, each type of people finds the likes for it. But also it is necessary to understand that it is just the class instincts that destroy and paralize the vital functions of the consolidated organism.

I have just mentioned Jews, who are prosperous wherever they live. I do not praise them at all, but if you show me at least one Jew to be rummaging in the dustbin, I would review my attitude to the Armenian elite. I have always been admired by the fact that the Jews, who are on the lower levels of the hierarchy, solve much higher problems with the help of their compatriots. A Jew does not look down upon another Jew.

The consolidated Armenian organism will start acting properly only in case if Armenians start treating each other as equals. When those two persons, who have found themselves on the both sides of the lake, will start living with similar concerns. The sense of equality lived inside Armenians, repatriated to the Soviet Armenia, but it has not been preserved in the present generation. All were equal and respected among the repatriates of those years. A tailor and a professor were equal – both at the table and in the public life. This line was shaped by the common fate. I think that we should build the future just on that past; only the generation, which was born from that past, is capable to build the future.

The President of the Republic of Armenia on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the independence also spoke about the trilateral unity of Armenia, Artsakh and Diaspora.  As far as I cannot see it yet, I do not believe in such a trilateral unity either. Such a unity is possible only in case if our fortunes are tied up, if besides the villas on the “blue” shore of Sevan, decent conditions are provided for life of Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan on the other “gray” shore.

The unity is to provide time for everybody’s disposal, recovering the wholeness of the fractured time.  Soviet repatriate-Armenians and Jews, who experienced the same school of life, have got one lesson of the fate. Time is concentrated and gets the shape of the whole only in a moment in one’s destiny, and such imperceptible moment remains in the human has his or her nature. The war and catastrophes tie people together for some time, and the common perception can weave a common interest.

The love to each other that emerged in the first days of the liberation struggle of 1988 has faded away, and probably it is there that we lost the initiative for the national unity.  Unfortunately, now we will be forced to search and find some other platforms for unity, other inner criteria. As long as the army of the multi-party idlers, eaters of the collective funds, exists, we have to forget about the trilateral unity. We will be scattered all over the world endlessly, as we have been so far.

Only one thing unites people, there is only one criterion – human. The hierarchy and class division exists in the Jewish society as well (I am trying to consider their society as a precedent of the national unity). They bring people up to respect their compatriots there. The thinking, moreover, national thinking can be born only in the well-brought-up society. The respect toward the experience of the others is induced by their thinkers. Buber’s work “I and you” can be didactics for those who are concerned about the national thinking. This work analyzes the relations algorithm. The relations on one level: between a human and a human, a human and the nature, a human and God.

“I and you” – Armenians, compatriots.  This is a formula of equality and unity. It is a unit of consolidation. During 20 years of independence an institute of a thinker has not been worked out, the independence has not give birth to either a thinker who might become a carrier of the solidarity idea, or a type of people who could be the molecules of unity.

The Jewry were not guided by Buber’s concepts; rather Buber’s considerations came out of the depths of the Jewry, which turned Martin Buber into the colossus, confirming “I and you”  and uniting the Jews, living in their homeland and abroad, within him.


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