Sunday, April 30, 2023

Hesaid-Shesaid Disease

58. Hesaid-Shesaid Disease (30 April 2023)

It's springtime, and the Mediterranean is not
too cold for a swim. (2 Apr. 2023 - AUB, Beirut)

Supermarkets in the U.S. have (or used to have) bulletin boards near the entrance, a place to post community activity announcements, job advertisements, lost dog posters, Fire Prevention Week fliers, you name it. Occasionally I would notice someone standing and examining each notice; but usually these bulletin boards were merely something to pass on your way out or your way into the store. Now, times have changed, and the bulletin board as well as its relative, the newspaper gossip column, have transformed into a new, electronic format, eagerly consumed by people the world over.

Lake Laziza – stagnant waters
collecting in the site of yet another
useless construction project.
(27 Mar. 2023 - Mar Mikhael)

            Social media platforms guide the thinking of so many people, young and old. Sometimes it guides its users to access well-thought-out writings about important issues or events. Often it entices us into habits that divert us from looking deeply or critically into topics. I would propose that our God-given minds and consciences are also “platforms” to help us consider what is true, or beautiful, or healthy, as well as what is “good, acceptable and perfect” (cf. Romans 12.2). The condition of today’s “marketplace of ideas” – a condition that predates the Internet – swarms with lies and half-truths, as well as with vested interests, mixed together with Truth. Separating the worthwhile from the worthless is akin to trying to separate the ingredients of a tabbouleh salad once it is mixed.

            But effort must be spent in separating the good and bad, no matter how painstaking the task. The discipline of deep thinking, including research and debate, is crucial to avoiding a relativism, antagonism and shallowness. And it is a rare, perhaps endangered, species.

Another sign of spring, high in the mountains
of Lebanon (10 Mar. 2023 - Azzounieh)

            At one time newspapers and periodicals bristled with the pointed tips of journalistic and academic inquiry. They played an essential role in in piercing shells of deceit and kept the “He said-She said Disease”, so prevalent in partisan and entertainment “news”. It pushed back the waves of mendacity of the powerful, and challenged vested interests. Where there should be courageous truth-telling, too often news reports are filled with “he said this, but, on the other hand, she said that”. A shrug of the shoulders, and on to the next story.

             And this is why April is the bitterest month for Armenians. They suffer from the “Hesaid-Shesaid Disease” that runs rampant in popular and populist media. Their just cause, and the unacknowledged and unpunished crime against them, has been turned into a target of the propaganda war by those responsible – the governments of Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Armenian nation, in its struggling Eastern portion, and its exiled Western portion, has been seated at a table replete with impotent statements of sympathy from world powers demonstrating their prowess in verbal gymnastics.

And this is why we now have 24-hour
electricity. And a working elevator.
(6 Apr. 2023 - Geitawi, Beirut)

           Caught in such a worldwide web as this, it is no wonder that militant groups have emerged from among all subjugated people groups, and not just from Armenians. Those who are silenced or sidelined from public forums can often see no other way than this: to force the powerful to pay attention to (and sometimes feel on their own skin) the injustices that are freely roaming the streets of every city and country, easily ignored by an otherwise occupied public. Sadly, the chronic disenfranchisement of such people groups leads to their disarray, dismemberment and dissolution, something widely observed among my people. 

        Allowing “Hesaid-Shesaid Disease” to spread unchecked may be intentional. It enables genocidal regimes to bend the wills of “great powers” who don’t want to endanger their access to resources. It allows Turkey and Azerbaijan to declare historic Armenian lands and culture as its own. It emboldens them to claim that Armenia and Armenians never existed. It gives them a green light to persist in their genocidal policies, both “soft genocide” and “hard genocide”. It gives credence to Hitler’s dismissal of concerns over his genocide against the Polish people, telling his generals in 1939 to abandon their humanitarian scruples: “Who speaks nowadays of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Armenian scouts headed to their Saturday
meeting, while street lights are being
replaced with solar-powered LED fixtures.
(15 Apr. 2023 - Khalil Bedawi, Beirut)

            The disease has no cure. It is as old as the dialogue between Adam and God in the Garden of Eden (cf. Genesis 3.9-13) and ingrained within the human heart. Although it cannot be eradicated, it can – and must – be kept at bay. As mentioned earlier, deep and rigorous thinking is one of the necessary treatment regimens. Another is careful and considerate listening, something that takes time and commitment. And time is one of the casualties of the information/entertainment glut engulfing the world. The third treatment is to “make love your aim” or to “follow the way of love” (cf. I Corinthians 14.1). Loving others as yourself. Loving the truth. Loving (including a fear of) God. 

LebCat 58 - Not sure how I got into this
building (UAECNE HQ). Could you provide
me with an escape route? Please?
(26 Mar. 2023 - Geitawi, Beirut)
                            April 24th – Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day – has come and gone, with various and sundry observances here in Lebanon and in many places throughout the world. It was noted by the diseased as well. The governor of Istanbul forbade its observance for the second year in a row. Azerbaijan increased its propaganda about the nefarious designs of the Armenian government, and intensified its military aggression against Armenia and Artsakh. Therefore, I have no choice but to do my part to combat this disease with faith in God, for the sake of my descendants and the inheritance of their rightful legacy.   [LNB]