Posted by Jeff from d14-69-37-23.try.wideopenwest.com (184.108.40.206) on Friday, September 05, 2003 at 3:09AM :
I forget how late I stayed up Saturday night (or was it Sunday morning) but did it matter? As sad as this sounds, I don't think I did anything related to the convention until around 3:00 this day. I went to an "Assyrian Political Presentation", which translates to "Let's listen to the white man insult us and let's kiss his ass by giving him a standing ovation!" I was so disgusted after 10 minutes of that, so I retreated to the "Lamasu Lounge", a cool atmosphere consisting of a dimly lit room, several tables and chairs, jazzy and hip music, and young people. The AANF crowd wasn't here at all, and again the young people spoke and spoke, made contacts across state and national lines and across the continents as well. The only sad thing about this event was that a few people seemed to try and steer the young people in a certain direction which I disagreed with, but all in all it was the highlight of my day Sunday.
This lounge atmosphere lasted for at least 3 hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Kudos to Stella, Nahrain, and others for setting it up.
Later on that night at around midnight Ninos Aho gathered as many young Assyrians as he could (including several from the European contingent, Canada, Australia, Chicago, etc...) in one of the larger rooms and then he TOLD (not asked... Ninos does not ask) Beni Atoori to come in and speak with us. It was an informal discussion where he sat at the front with Ninos Aho, and they both smoked like chimneys. I should add that a few older people who were very unwelcome also entered and sat down. They weren't welcome because Ninos Aho wanted the younger crowd to speak with Beni, and these bastards asked some pretty stupid questions and made some very foolish comments. I should note that there were a few older people who were welcome to be there...they know who they are and why they were welcome.
Beni sat at the front and asked us if we had any questions to ask him, on any subject. Of course I began by asking him if there was some event in his life that sparked his interested in Assyrian culture, history, and what-not, or if this interest was there all along? He began his answer by explaining a lot of his past, and he explained and explained and explained and explained about his past...this was a complicated answer. He made several good points when he was speaking, and I will list a few of them here, only because I agreed with them so much.
He described church as a "crutch", Amen, Amen, and explained that it is important for us to separate church from everything else. Religion is a very personal thing, and we have already built plenty of churches. A crutch is something that you should not use for the rest of your life... you should only use it for a temporary period. Of course, I'm not quoting him exactly but this was my understanding of what he said, and I couldn't agree more.
He explained that doing work through federations with meetings, minutes, agendas, [POINT OF ODOR!! POINT OF ODOR!!] seemed pointless and that he decided to work for our culture on his own, hence the movie about the Epic (Gilgamish). Again, I agree. Any tangible work or accomplishments are going to be done on a small scale with small groups of people and/or individuals, not global dominion alliance federation meetings.
Another topic he touched upon: The Epic itself. When he was speaking these words it was as if Fredrick L. Parhad was up there speaking... the moral of Gilgamesh is as follows: LIVE LIFE and enjoy it on earth... don't worry about the afterlife and organized religion. We are all going to die, and it's better to enjoy a fruitful life then being a meek worrier about heaven and hell and sins. It is possible to be moral without organized religion...damn you people. The secret to immortality is that your children are your continuation... all of this is learned from the story of Gilgamesh. This is my oversimplification of his explanation and wisdom.
Again, I should say that these aren't exact quotes and I am throwing some of my commentary in as well, but nonetheless it was a great conversation.
One thing that he said that I vehemently disagreed with: he stated that he wants to build a wall around the Assyrian artifacts in the Iraqi national museum and strike some agreement with the new government of Iraq so that the tourism income generated from admission to that section, "our section" will go to some sort of a fund that would benefit Assyrian charities or something like that. He said that the Iraqi artifacts that were "stolen" a few months ago were "stolen from thieves", as if the people of Iraq were thieves profiting off of OUR heritage. I told him that I disagreed with this view because anyone can see that Donny George is the head of the Iraqi Antiquities department and the museum, and that Iraqis see this as part of their heritage... we agreed to disagree.
The Assyrians converted to Christianity some time ago. Later, some converted to Islam. When we converted to Christianity we somehow retained our heritage, but when some of us converted to Islam they "automatically" became A-rabs..just like that??
Another fun night was had in room 960 and I crawled to bed again... good night people.
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