Monday, March 21, 2005

The Diaspora speaks about trafficking

There has been a discussion going on in about the trafficking issue which those that are interested may want to check out.

On I asked the following question: “What can the Diaspora do to prevent trafficking and to be part of the overall solution? I know this is a loaded question, but it has to be asked.”

Thought there were quite a few answer in the forum, in my opinion, the most valuable and realistic came in the form of an e-mail, which reads as follows:

Hi Ara,

I appreciate your courage and energy. Best of luck to you in your efforts. As for possible answers to the question posed, I am not replying publicly because I no longer wish to peddle wisdom publicly, even if anonymously. My take on the sad issue of human-trafficking is that it reflects a breakdown of traditional, conservative, family-oriented Armenian ethos. Like virginity, such a thing is one-way and irreversible in the sense that the lost innocence (on the part of the society that tolerated or encouraged it) can never be regained. Considering the aloofness of the government and the widespread corruption apparently permeating all levels of the society, there are only band-aid solutions. Even an overnight economic miracle would be insufficient. Even in affluent societies there is an underclass. The differences between the ways the underclass in different societies deal with the trials and tribulations of life are largely determined not by economic factors but their culture and character. The diasporan involvement would make little difference until it becomes more political, in-your-face, and bold, including a mass movement into the republic (in other words, I doubt that money alone would make much difference). That, of course is currently a pipe-dream not least because it would be dead-set against the interests of the current owners of power.

The way I see it, the problem you are exposing is just another facet of our slow and steady intellectual decline. The reason behind it share their origins with the reasons for our lack of original thinkers or brilliant artists, as well as why the republic is not beaming a dozen TV channels in eastern and western dialects and great children's programming to the diaspora, or taking the issue of language or orthography seriously. They are clueless about forming a great nation, and so is the diaspora. The diapora has an excuse, the republic not so much.

Sorry about blabbering so much. After all that fluff, all I can say is that in the absence of real solutions, the best you can hope for (despite what I said above) is what you already accomplished: hit rich diasporans for money to support projects of this sort as well as programs for rehabilitating the victims.

I have no hopes pinned on the establishment inside or outside of the republic. If and when I accumulate enough wealth, I would try to do something myself. Until then I just try to earn my daily bread, support my family and watch our decay in painful frustration.

Good luck,

I wrote back:

Dear [name omitted],

First I would like to thank you for taking the time to write me.

What you wrote I can only describe as the hammer hitting the nail with full force on the head. I could not have said it any better.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to my cousin from Iraq about trafficking and he was telling me that there is no way in the world he would ever do such a thing and would live in rags and eat whatever he could get his hands on.

I told him that the reality is that he had a father and mother who taught him well our Armenian values. Unfortunately, like you pointed out (at least this is how I read into your message), today’s people in Armenia and especially those that fall into this trap, don’t have the family structure in place to instill such values.

I have been preaching for over 10 years to the people here that Western television is poison and the culture that it is instilling into our people today will one day destroy us. I really don’t think I’m wrong and from the flavor of your message I believe you would agree with this.

Anyway, I’m not going say any more than I have, since I think what you said in your message covers it.

We have a big battle ahead of us and since I don’t plan on us loosing, I need to figure out how to efficiently use the resources I have at my disposal so we see tangible results. I also hope that I’m not going to be doing this on my own, though I’m ready to if need be, though that would be really sad if it turns out that way.

Well thanks again for writing and confirming many of the things I have been feeling. As frustrating as the whole situation is for you, it give me hope to know that I’m not alone in my way of thinking.



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