I grew up hating Turks and everything connected to Turks. I’m not ashamed of this, nor am I particularly proud. I grew up with a certain conviction, that I now relate to mob psychology. What I felt was not uncommon and is an affliction suffered not just by Armenians but by Turks today as well. I was a child, and with a child’s unquestioning trust and naivete, I walked a slippery road. I hated with a passion and used such words as abhor and despise. Strange enough, it’s near impossible for me to hate anything else. As a Christian, I find it a blasphemy to hate, when the figure I worship knows only to love. However, for all the love I held for everything else, I never questioned why I felt so negatively against a people I essentially knew nothing about. Truth be told, upon reflection, I equate what I felt to what has caused so much suffering and misery in this world. Hatred leads only to bloodshed. It’s something I understand now, hopefully fully.
I understand something that might literally be the most important truth in this world. Ignorance breeds hatred which leads to war, pain, suffering and injustice. Furthermore, because the world is so full of lies and the omission of truths, it’s rather impossible to ever entirely shed the shell of ignorance. It’s a sad thought and extremely frustrating. In a perfect world, we would all be the same, share the same history and accomplishments, love each other as brother and sister and never imagine harming another. Yet, we don’t live in a perfect world, and no one truly follows their religion. Most religions speak of love, of respect, of equality among the races. We all simply hide behind a facade and commit heinous crimes in the name of something that preaches the exact opposite. I look around me and ask why. Why would you demean another when you have only been shown respect? Why would you lie, when the truth makes things so much easier? Why would you cover up parts of your history, when the truth is that we’re all human and bound to make mistakes? Why would you view yourself as part of race that was chosen by a higher being, when you are made of the same stuff everyone else is? Why do you believe you have the right to slap a woman, push an elder or kill a child?
The more you ask why, the more you learn about each and every episode, and the more you dig constantly for the truth, the closer you come to shedding your ignorance and the easier it becomes to dispel your hate, viewing those before you in a positive light.
In Turkey, a journalist of Turkish descent stood up and said “I am Armenian” to the shock of both Armenian and Turkish communities. “They asked me whether I could say I am a Turk in [Armenia’s capital] Yerevan. If I cannot say I am a Turk in Yerevan, this would be Yerevan’s shame, but if I [can] say I am Armenian in Istanbul, this would be Istanbul’s honor,” Ahmet Hakan stated. (http://news.am/eng/news/89759.html)
He is correct. It definitely would be our shame to not be able to say it. It gives me a strange feeling in my gut still. But if I can say I’m Canadian or American or Lebanese or Syrian, why should I NOT be able to say I’m a Turk?
I chose the path not to hate. That makes me no less an Armenian, let alone a patriotic one. I choose the humane path now, laughing with Turks, particularly one young one of Crimean Turkish descent, about anything and everything. I may be a nationalist with Sosse Mayrig as my idol, but that does not mean I have to hate.