Հայրենիքի փրկութիւնը հեռաձայնով չի կատարուիր։
The Armenian homeland’s salvation will not be realized with social media and mobile phones.
During the 2020 Artsakh War, there was a flood of social media posts from Armenians across the globe. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were inundated with news of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s aggression and attacks on Armenia and Artsakh. The Diaspora found comfort, and some might say some sort of purpose on social media, believing that the posts and stories placed on our accounts made a difference in spreading news and awareness regarding our cause. Not surprisingly, the world and its political leaders responded to our online activism with near total silence.
In the aftermath of the loss of more than half of Artsakh – we learned a bitter lesson – especially my generation. Social media is a tool – strong in some ways – but also a paper tiger in other ways. The truth be told, in the days following the loss of so much of Artsakh and the loss of so many brave heroes, I learned an essential lesson: we Armenians must depend on ourselves to build, rejuvenate and strengthen the Armenian nation. We must never look elsewhere for comfort or external aid that, at the end of the day, may never arrive.
Let’s look at one scenario: a non-Armenian is scrolling through Instagram during the afternoon in October 2020, looking through their friends’ adventures and outings. This individual comes across your post and sees that there is a war in some place far, far away. Why would this individual care for something that is not personal to them? Why will this individual research something they will likely forget the very next day? If you are lucky, this person will search some facts, come across Azeri and Turkish propaganda and call it a day. There is a good chance that nothing will come out of that encounter because our cause, in many ways, is of unique concern to the Armenian people. Our cause is a part of us because we feel its force in our bones and understand it in our hearts. The reason you care is because this war was a threat to your people, your nation, your holy lands.
This much is clear: it is only the Armenian people who will push and ultimately forge a brighter future for our homeland. It is only the Armenian people who can create the homeland we strive to see. And that homeland will not be built through social media. I believe hands-on work is the key to creating a better and stronger Hairenik.
Making positive change in our homeland is a contact sport—a hands-on enterprise. Social media can help enable and spread news of this work, but it is not fundamental to the effort. That effort has to be through direct action on the ground in Armenia and Artsakh as well as across the Diaspora – not with memes and posts that provide clickbait.
Think of the direct actions you can take to make a change for Artsakh.
A fine example is the recent work of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Youth Office which inspired the entrepreneurial dreams of emerging leaders in Artsakh by sponsoring Verelk, “a Capacity + Capital + Capabilities hybrid entrepreneurship program for aspiring young entrepreneurs and change-makers in Artsakh. Verelk’s mission is to accelerate the economic reconstruction at a local scale and ensure increased and sustainable living standards for the youth (18 – 35 year-olds) in the aftermath of the Artsakh War.” Thus far, this ARF Youth Office initiative has been a huge success and a clear example of direct action on the ground in Artsakh.
Here are some ideas you could participate in, just to name a few.
Make a change by simply visiting Artsakh and speaking to the local youth, their parents and elderly to understand the challenges and realities they face. Understanding their circumstances and situation is important in order to mold your action to create a more secure and resilient Artsakh.
Make a change by reaching out to your local Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) chapter and becoming an activist for your nation in the Diaspora. Make a change by participating in AYF Youth Corps and Camp Javakhk, bringing ear-to-ear smiles on the faces of children whose childhoods, in many ways, have been stripped away as witnesses of war.
Make a change by participating in the AYF Internship Program and Birthright Armenia, by partaking in opportunities that hone in on your career interests and help you visualize your life should you choose to repatriate to your homeland.
Make a change by reading Karekin Njdeh and Raffi, understanding how our struggle in the past is very similar to the reality we face today. Make a change by revitalizing the Armenian language in the Diaspora by creating Armenian book clubs in schools and communities, normalizing its use through different avenues.
The possibilities for hands-on work are endless. Anything is possible.
To those who want to see and make change, take your shovel, your pen, and your sword – take whatever you have – and get to work.
Our homeland awaits.
Let us answer her call for help and build towards our bright future – not with social media posts alone – but with our hands, our hearts and our minds.