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Posted by panch from ( on Thursday, June 27, 2002 at 1:12AM :

Good conversation last night. Good people, intelligent, passionate, hurt, puzzled, funny, angry, slightly cynical, disappointed, secret longings…all of it having to do with this puzzlement, this identity, this Heritage, this being AssyrianslashChaldean slash the usual suspects etc.

We didn’t know it, no one said it in so many words, but we were asking what the relevance is of being Assyrian in the modern era. What’s the point…can we hope to sustain it, to stop the slide to oblivion? I have to confess the same thoughts whisper in the corners of my mind as I begin yet another monument. Where will this one go? I mean who, somewhere down the road, will try to derail it…will not simply stand aside and not care, not help…but will actively work to frustrate it, to write to a city government and warn them not to install it, tell them I got it all wrong, that this sculpture is not really Assyrian and “I can prove it”.

Why do we fight each other so? So far removed from the chance to fight anyone else from among the several people we blame for putting us here, we turn on one another as if to say…”it was your fault the outsider got to us.” Having split and divided among ourselves for centuries now, we’ve become warring enclaves, isolated. Unwilling to come to each other’s aid, we’ve left ourselves vulnerable to being picked off one by one. The Muslims made this mistake in the first onrush of the Mongols…too jealous of one another to band together they were picked off one by one. The Christians of Eastern Europe also found themselves doing the Ottoman’s work for them by refusing to stand together, allowing internal squabbles to keep them for joining forces, from making common cause in the face of an attack none of them could fight off alone. People learned eventually…will we?

How in the name of all that’s sacred do we allow ourselves to become the generation that lost it…that even wonders if it’s worth it? If we were being persecuted for being Assyrian and could run nowhere, we would be forced together for safety’s sake. We lament the fact that the Jews have several advantages over us, but those are survival techniques they learned because they were forced to…because if they were going to survive at all they had to fight like hell to do it at a better level than as dogs to the Christians of Europe. In a sense it was the persecution they suffered, centuries of it, that made them so resolute and “shrewd”. We have that same capacity, almost anyone does, but especially those of us from that part of the world. Without the dire necessity though…who will volunteer to do it…I mean REALLY do it?

None of us here in the West HAS to be Assyrian…that’s the difficulty. On the other hand it means that those of us who want to be…must be doing it for another reason, a weird one even. Too often we suspect that reason must be a narrow, selfish one…especially if as in my case, money enters into it. There are many people who believe I stumbled onto a clever scheme, a trick, a scam to play on the latent feelings of pride, the hope that something can be done…as a means of wrestling money for myself from their love of our Heritage. Jackie said as much in her letter to Jeff…that all I wanted was to sell a few things so I could support my lifestyle in Mexico. But she’s a great leader and they think like that because they have to bring their own cash or no one will play with them.

And that’s the dilemma. None of us at the table last night are devoid of feelings for our ancestry…everyone there had worked long and hard at some point, or still were…or were thinking about it, or had a sadness in them over their loss of faith or hope. None of us meant it when we thought, or said, “I don’t care any more”. But neither did we know what to do, or feel like being fed another line. This is the failure of our leadership…which is more concerned with patching together enough of a “club” to issue fatwahs on each other…to have enough members to type their declarations to a wall…or make enough from a party to pay the caterer at least so that Assyria can nosh one night.

Leaders have to have a vision…something they can communicate to the rest of us that inspires and gives hope and suggests means and methods to get somewhere they can also describe in some detail. We aren’t stupid…just because we don’t know where to go, or how to get there, doesn’t mean we can be easily fooled, or must remain unmotivated and unconvinced…we’ll know the person is speaking Truth when we hear it.

-- panch
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