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September 29 2010 at 7:50 AM
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  (Login baliozianara)
Armenian Cafe

Sunday, September 26, 2010
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CONFESSION
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We don't always say what we think, seldom what we really think, and never what we suspect to be the truth.
As a boy, I remember, what fascinated me about Dostoevsky was the daring of his characters to go to the limit, to hold nothing back, to say what they think.
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The Pope never says he doubts his faith “seven time every day,” as the popular Italian saying has it; and Mother Teresa confessed her loss of faith only to her confessor and no one else.
Some readers resent me for saying what everyone almost knows and understand but is reluctant to say it because it may not be socially acceptable or patriotic.
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Larry Terzian (God bless his soul) who edited several of my books once said to me: “You have written enough about Armenians. Now write about something else.”
I write about Armenians not as an Armenian but as a human being, and I write to expose that which is universal in them.
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My Armenian readers hate me when I write about Turks not as Turks but as human beings. A smart Armenian knows instinctively that honesty and truth are not appreciated by the average Armenian reader. He also knows that objectivity has no cash value. He treats Armenians as angels and Turks as devils. He may know better but he also knows there are limits to what a man in his position can say publicly.
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Saroyan's image was that of a good fellow who loved everyone, especially Armenians. Privately however he hated even his own children, who may or may not have been lovable. But then who is? A good friend of his, who has published a book about him, once said to me: “Saroyan cared only for Saroyan.” Later when I got to know this man, he turned out to be no better.
What about me?
The only positive thing I can say about myself is that I am not an insider or an organization man. I think of nationalism and patriotism not as assets but as liabitilies. And I don't feel the need to conform and to say only that which is generally held to be true or popular.
Can I prove that?
I am not sure. My only evidence is the Socratic dictum, “My poverty is proof of my honesty.”
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Monday, September 27, 2010
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IN PRAISE OF DOUBT
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Sometimes between the obvious and the false, it is the obvious that will be misunderstood and rejected. That's because we all operate under the influence of an ideology or religion whose aim is to obstruct and distort our perception of reality.
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We are brought up to believe the end is a new beginning because the alternative – that is to say, the obvious – is unbearable.
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Faith is hope and hope is good provided it is not motivated by wishful thinking and divorced from common sense and logic.
Faith is a mighty force; it is also the most frequently abused.
Science cannot explain the visible, but faith claims to have explained the invisible.
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Faith is wrong when it convinces us we can know and understand that which we have no way of knowing and understanding.
Faith is dangerous when it creates a bureaucracy with its own laws and dogmas.
Faith becomes a scandal when it falls under the control of popes, imams, televangelists, and witch doctors who make a comfortable living by legitimizing superstition, prejudice, and intolerance.
Faith is criminal when it uses education as an instrument of intimidation, oppression, exploitations, persecution, and violence.
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Faith tries to convince us that the invisible and incomprehensible power that created the cosmos owes us not only a life but also a better one.
And if the majority of mankind has adopted a belief system it may be because in a crowded room it is not the most reasonable that is heard but the loudest.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010
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A QUESTION OF PERSPECTIVE
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Both Turks and Armenians share one thing in common: both see themselves as victims -- Turks as victims of the Great Powers, Russia, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Kurds, Greeks, and Armenians within Turkey itself; and Armenians see themselves as victims of Turks.
In Turkish eyes what happened to the Armenians was not a crime against humanity but a desperate self-defensive move against a mosaic of enemies bent on the total ruin and destruction of their Empire. They did what any David would have done when confronting Goliath; and because they couldn't cut off Goliath's head or, for that matter, his right arm, they cut off his nose.
In any case that's their story or, in modern parlance, their narrative, and they are sticking to it.
Their perspective is global, ours is tribal. Hence the semantic vacillations of the United States.
And speaking of Yanks: How do you think they will react on the day the Islamic world, with the tacit support of former enemies and present rivals, Russia and China, rises against them and threatens to wipe America off the map? Do you think they will send a diplomatic delegation to negotiate peace terms with them? Hell no! They will do what they did to the Japs at the end of World War II.
They will “teach them (Jihadists) a lesson they will never forget!”
They will do so even if it means killing innocent civilians by the million; even if it means to be accused forever after of unspeakable crimes against humanity.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010
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FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
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They want me silenced because I threaten to demolish their comfortable view of reality by exposing their status as dupes.
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Whether I go on writing or fall silent makes no difference in the long run because everything I say has either been said before by better men than myself or it will be said in the future by someone with a minimum of common sense.
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Sometimes people pretend not to know to catch you in the act of exploiting their ignorance.
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The secret ambition of all liberators is to be oppressors.
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After every line I write, I ask myself: Am I boring the reader? Am I fooling myself into thinking I am saying something he doesn't already know?
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A tolerant religion? A contradiction in terms. Consider the fate of Untouchables under Hinduism (identified as the most tolerant religion). There are Untouchables in all organized religions.
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Where there are dogmas there will be heretics.
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It is easier to identify ourselves as victims than as victimizers. We experience our pain, we can only imagine someone else's.
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Armenians cannot engage in dialogue with Turks because Armenians cannot engage in dialogue with fellow Armenians. The same applies to Turks. Consider the way they treat their dissidents.
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Whenever I try to reason with a partisan I end up being insulted. In an intolerant environment reason is treated like a hostile witness.
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Those who think truth or God is on their side can do no wrong for the same reason that in matters of faith the Pope is infallible.
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Religions have their saints and ideologies their heroes. Also their heretics and traitors. In the eyes of brainwashed dupes, dissidents are either heretics or traitors.
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A good Armenian is taught to believe his most important duty as an Armenian is to learn saying “Yes sir!” in the same way that once upon a time all Germans were taught to say “Heil Hitler!” and all Italians were taught to say “Mussolini ha sempre ragione!” (Mussolini is always right).
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