Posted by pancho from customer-148-233-78-77.uninet.net.mx (18.104.22.168) on Monday, February 10, 2003 at 2:11PM :
Here I yam, sitting on a hill outside of town in Mexico, watching the morning sun clear the far mountains, drinking coffee and trying to figure out what being Assyrian can possibly mean in the 21st century.
This Heritage sits with me, an 800 pound gorilla in the corner I canīt ignore...as likely to smile through its hairy teeth as it is to rip my arm off. Once you unlock this box...look hard into it...it isnīt so easy to decide just what being Assyrian means.
Iīve started my book with the first chapter...I know that sounds logical but not necessarily. I wont pull an Aprim and tease you with promises etc. I just want to mention it this once.
I canīt dance around the subject if Iīm going to use the word "Assyrian" in the title...which I yam. Iīm not writing a book for Assyrians per se...and Iīm not going to self-pubish it or have it appear in installments in the Assyrian Star magazine over the next 3450 years.
It goes to a publisher just like any other white manīs book and sinks or floats on its own. It includes the jubilent delinquents, of which I almost was one, though some would argue I only delayed the process by some years...as well as being a sculptor down to Jackieīs knickers and up.
Had it never become an issue I would gladly have avoided mention of anything Assyrian. I never wanted to be Assyrian mostly because itīs just too preposterous a thing to claim but also because I saw nothing but horrible examples of what it could mean. I still would have avoided it as being immaterial to anything Iīd experienced in life having given up the language and spent all but eight years of my life in the United States.
Except for that first visit to the Met in New York when those wall reliefs all but reached out and jerked by the hair. Since then I havenīt been able to dodge this gorilla and havenīt wanted to. The problem is that not having been born to the manor, I canīt buy into every bit of foolishness those raised within it accept as gospel.
Iīm the cousin from abroad who comes home having forgotten what a nutsy place home was and having picked up definitions and ideas and values from all over the world...the world of ideas mostly...when the biggest book on the old homefrontīs bookshelves has been the Bible...not a particularly original piece of writing...and as Tiglath shows, none too friendly to us.
So Iīm skeptical to begin with. I want to test every accepted norm, peek behind every curtain, ask the unthinkable, only to find out quickly that this is the one thing above all else that is NOT allowed in Assyria. That makes me suspicious and only increases my curiosity and doubts. Not doubts of who I am, but doubts of just how secure the others are.
Take Statehood. All of these political sounding ideas turn out to be religiously based...some mention it up front, others take it for granted...like an Assyrian state would only be filled with Assyrians and since they are all Christians...thereīs no need to mention it.
Trouble comes when you explore this definition of the word "Assyrian"...which at every turn of every term produces more questions than answers. What makes an Assyrian, or a Jew...or a Frenchman, or a Muslim? The first thing you notice is that you have to get religion out of the picture...except they wont let you...the Christian Assyrians I mean. So right at the start thereīs a big problem. Can religion ever be exclusively the atribute of any ethnic group...or national one?
This was possible when pople lived in walled off cities and had a unique set of everything...from clothing to food to music to gods. The problem for us today is that weīve mixed it up quite a bit and unless you discover an aboriginal tribe somewhere, the rest of the people on this planet will soon be drinking each others spit and weīll all be forced into one human race.
The Jews are an exception because they say so...and because theyīve been true to the one god of theirs who goes back almost to pre-history. That unified belief has kept the Israleites, at least, "one people" though theyīve been forced to roam the earth.
We come close...except that we made a major break 2000 years ago and adopted a new god and religion and all that goes with it...including a penchant for betraying our non-Christian neighbors. If it was no big deal for Assyrians to dump Ashur for Christ, why did they feel they had to do it? Obviously, it WAS a big deal...and it effectively ended our deepest connection to our roots.
The Jews today can make some sort of a case for demanding an Israel...they can say it is the land their oldest god promised to them. Christians too can feel that special love for Israel because Jerusalem was to be the center of the coming of the Messiah and his reign on earth.
But what do we Assyrians do? We have no claim to Iraq as Assyrians because there is no Ashur in our hearts who promised us the land. Instead we placed Jesus and his father Yahweh in our hearts...and he promised us the same Jerusalem in the same Israel. We HAVE no tie to Iraq...nothing like the Jews and Christians have to Israel...we broke that bond willingly for what the Messiah had to offer. The Day of Days, the re-establishment of the covenant, godīs promise fulfilled, were all to take place in Israel...not in BetNahrain. We cut the thread that would have led us back there...we attached ourselves to the one that ran back to Israel, the temple and the home of Christ.
Makes no difference to me...but I can see how Iraqis can view Christian claims to a "rightful" homeland in Iraq as a bit too much to bear patiently.
Anyway...that brings me back to identity and Statehood. Simply put, no religious affiliation centered upon the country of birth of that affiliation, can have any validity in another nation where that religion did not originate...it just doesnīt make sense...which is why none of them write books about it where anyone encumbered with stupid degree can read.
So whatīs the point...if these Christians arenīt willing to make their case forcefully and openly...why all this fretting and back-slapping and back-stabbing under the covers, behind closed doors etc?
I think the Fundamentalists in all three religions are afraid all of this flying around and mixing it up and living side by side, that itīs going to reduce the franchise real soon. That it would be a monumental and income-threatening tragedy if Muslim, Jew and Christian learned to really not care for the differences in their religions and cultures but found a way to live together, even intermarry and mix it ALL up.
I think this scares purist Jews, Christians and Muslims who have manaaged to maintain their hold on power by playing to these hositilities and especially by magnifying them...like countries want you to hate your neighbors and see them as rivals or threats.
Weīre experiencing a sort of "hate-fest"...a rallying of the primitive religious furies that will keep us apart...even if our children must die for it. Our own Christians are doing their part by insisting on Assyrian Statehood. Which doesnīt mention Christian against Muslim...but implies it quite clearly if you examine the argument just a little.
Anyway...got to struggle with this thing some more. I want it to make sense to people who never heard anything but that we were dead and gone. Submitting a manuscript to a real publisher means review...it means someone who is NOT in love with you or your cousin is going to read the manuscript and if you are going to be controversial you had at least better be able to sustain your points and meet all challenges.
Thatīs why I think aina and beth do us all a disservice by protecting the Aprims and Stargrifters and other experts and hysterians...they make it impossible for these guys to do anything but drop their load of "facts" and run like hell, when we should be testing ourselves among ourselves so we can go out there and make a good case.
Anyway...once this thing has started...thereīs no putting it aside...the gorilla gets restless.
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