What matters is not what the world does to you, but how you respond – by Nerses Aposhian

  • April 12, 2015
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Last night, I was reading Orhan’s Inheritance, a novel by Aline Ohanesian which delves into a story from the Armenian Genocide and came across this line: “What matters is not what the world does to you, but how you respond.”

Before continuing to read further, I paused for a moment and begin to think. I thought about what these words meant outside the context of this novel. I began to think about what this means to me, as a person, but also to me as an Armenian. I began to think that these words are the motto of the Armenian people.

From 1915-1923, approximately 1.5 million Armenians were massacred. Fast-forward 100 years. 2015. 100 years have passed since the commencement of the Armenian Genocide.

Last year, someone asked me, “What is an Armenian?” At first, I was dumbfounded. I could not believe what I had heard. But again, it got me thinking. What do I respond? I began to explain to him who Armenians are, where we are from and our history.

“What matters is not what the world does to you, but how you respond.”

We were left to die. The Ottoman Turks did not want a single Armenian to walk on the face of this earth.

William Saroyan wrote, “Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again.”

How did we respond? Yes, we were left to die, but did we?

Saroyan continues to write, “When two of them meet anywhere in the world, see of they will not create a New Armenia.” That is exactly what the Armenian people have done. We may have lost our families, we may have lost our lands, but we did not lose the Armenian spirit that will never cease to exist.

“What matters is not what the world does to you, but how you respond.”

For 100 years, we have continued to fight. We remind the world every single day that we are still here and we are here to stay.

As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches, I am incredibly inspired and excited to see Armenians around the world uniting to further our cause. As an Armenian, it is insulting to see Turkey deny the genocide, but the denial has lit a flame inside me and many millions of Armenians to continue to respond, to continue to keep the Armenian name, language and culture alive.

Only 21 of 196 countries around the world have recognized the Armenian Genocide. The world may not be on our side, but how do we respond?

I may be one person, one voice, but I call on my Armenian brothers and sisters and non-Armenian brothers and sisters to join my fight, to join the Armenian fight and respond to Turkey and rest of the world.