Monday, December 01, 2008

The Best of All Worlds

In response to my blog on Change in Armenia (made on my facebook page), two of my friends raised concerns for change in a direction that is misguided, and another example of Western influence that is not necessarily positive progress. I ended up writing a very long response that I though was worth a blog in itself. So here it is... my response. Arsineh Khachikian wrote at 12:00am Anoush and Daniel, I have to say I agree and disagree on some level, but I'm glad you guys raised the issue. I think at times, we (including me) start to talk about Western influence as a quickly spreading disease that is threatening Armenia's society. I agree that Armenia can not be a copy of Western democracies, but this should not be a complete rejection of practices that take place in the West. When I said things were better this time around, I specified kindness and willingness to follow up and assist. This is a sign of professionalism that fuels efficiency. The case of Armenia is a little different because the system that was in place before no longer exists and cannot exist anymore. The Soviet days are over and turning back to them is no smarter than following in the steps of democracy. I'm not fond of consumerism, but I do believe in a form of democracy. There are many cases where diasporans have come from the US and implemented practices they learned in the US to create companies and NGOs that work very well in Armenia and employ hundreds of people, and primarily serve Armenia and Armenians, rather than globalization. In fact, our closed borders may be a blessing for that reason. I agree that quality of life cannot be found in consumerism. Quality of life is in compassion, love, respect. These are three characteristics I feel have been squashed in Armenia over the last 20 years. Every day, I meet more and more people holding doors open for each other, saying hello with a smile, and laughing with each other, and not just people of their same background. I believe that this is a result of people having work, managing their lives, and restoring their dignity. But there is a fine line between managing one's life and being squeezed in a capitalistic society that spins out of control... Here's my vision. We need to take the best of each society and apply it to Armenia. If there is one good description of Armenians in this world, it is that we are resourceful, often with the narrowest means. We have experts in all fields all around the world, and we are accomplishing great strides in our homeland against all odds. The bottom line is this. The world is going in a direction that affects us whether we like it or not. The world is interconnected, and it's better for Armenia to build a strong economy that can work with the West, but also stand on its own. It's a delicate game we are playing here, but this is a vision I believe Armenians can achieve. Thank you for your feedback guys, would love more discussion on this.

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