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Pan-Armenian: Are we, the Armenians, good survivors? At what expense did we survive?
Posted: Friday, March 07, 2008
Edward Sarafian, a commentator on Armenian affairs, says: "Before we pat ourselves on the backs for being survivors, let's ask what that has cost us. In most Armenian families, including mine, I have seen a lack of kindness, concern and generosity among siblings. It seems, for the sake of surviving, we have repressed or even killed our empathy for one another, our mutual caring and concern.  We seem to have hardened ourselves to such a degree, in order to survive the horrible calamities that have befallen us for generations if not centuries, that we are sometimes incapable of compassion and forgiveness within the family circle, or within the Armenian community at large. Then you see the syndrome of some Armenian who went through very hard times, having been orphaned and through dint of sheer hard work and perseverance, overcome tremendous odds and succeeded. But, that person will not lend a helping hand to a fellow Armenian, saying if I did it by myself, without help from anyone else, you can do the same. And yet, there is a lot of philanthropy among Armenians. It seems we can be generous and kindly disposed to an abstract fellow Armenian, but don't ask us to look directly at a specific Armenian and express love or concern. That would be unthinkable."
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Comment 4

There is truth in this notion of the ‘hardening’ of Armenian emotions within the family unit as well as towards others.  I can see it within myself and can assimilate to this physiological and psychological notion.  I truly never considered this as part of my ‘fabric’ as to who I am; however, it hits home.  Being raised in a family that had suffered and asked for so little had simply become a ‘condition’ to which I have accepted as a way of life.  I often hear from my wife, friends and extended family members (non-Armenians), “why are you so hard on yourself?”  I think nothing of it and simply shrug it off as wasted conversation.  I’ve also have hear from co-workers, “you are your worst critic and seldom take credit for your achievements.”  Again, I acknowledge what I have ‘done’, glad to see that it works – and very rarely take the time to relish in my own accomplishment, then simply move on to the next task that needs my attention.  My sister, cousins and I have always been fierce competitors with one another – always trying to excel in life and not recognizing and congratulating the other’s accomplishments; at least not directly toward each other. 


This article has opened my eyes to something I had never noticed before.  An innate conduct, which I had always thought as simply a strict constitution within myself, can now be viewed as an up-bringing within an American-Armenian culture.  The hardening of an individual’s demeanor, and the strain on the individual to succeed no matter what the sacrifice, has been instilled within my ‘fabric’ since a child – whether I was aware or not. I cannot count the times my wife (a non-Armenian) has told me to stop and smell the roses.  In closing, it now makes perfect sense as to what the author has proclaimed.  To stop and smell the roses, and share that experience is a gift from God; however, what do most Armenians do? Sniff the roses and continue with their yard work. 

Posted by: Marc Fermanian   on Saturday, February 04, 2012

Comment 3

Ttzavok Serdee" the very same thing happens in our "meyoutuneneroon metch" "park oo badvee hamar".



Posted by: Perch Gassapian   on Saturday, March 13, 2010

Comment 2

I agree with the above.  We Armenians will not help another fellow Armenian unless there is a benefit in it for us. I have seen so many businesses claiming to help new comers with jobs, but at below market rate pay, claiming that they are helping the new comer, meanwhile they are getting the lion’s share of the benefit, in the form of superior quality at less than basic pay. This is never the case with other ethnic groups that have been prosecuted and displaced. They seem to stick together and look out for each other versus Armenians who try to derail each other's projects out of jealousy or spite.

Leon Ashjian

Glendale, California

Posted by: Leon Ashjian   on Sunday, August 31, 2008

Comment 1

I think you are absolutely right. Hard work of survival change our human behavior and that is reflecting on our daily family and work life.

I think we miss social psychology analysis, which will study post Genocide behaviorism in Armenian communities and mainly in Western Armenia origin families.

I often asked myself why the faces of Armenians in Armenia look very sad and seem all the problems of the world are on their shoulder as they say in Armenian language.

When I see the faces of Swiss people, I feel different face outlook. They are of course different not in the sense of the genetic, but rather in terms of general positive and happy face outlook.

I think it is a good case study and we need positive and happy looking people faces

Boghos Mardirossian

Posted by: Boghos   on Thursday, April 24, 2008

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