Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Giving honor where it is due, to the memories of my Armenian brothers and sisters...

Even 100 years does not heal such a wound, for time isn't able to stitch all brokenness. This wound, the Armenian genocide, has long been denied as such by both its perpetrators, the Ottoman Empire, and that empire's clearest successive nation, Turkey.

I was not there, but I remember. I call it what it was. It was clear cut persecution; it was genocide. For many of the 1 - 1.5 million (minimum estimates), people killed in the genocidal massacre, it was martyrdom. Many were killed for simply being Christians; the vast majority, in fact.

Even today, 100 years later, only one Armenian village remains in Turkey, and they only survive because they choose to remain silent and live in unobtrusive fear.

Our own president, fearing Turkey's feelings today about a century-ago crime, plans to refuse to use the word "genocide" in his upcoming centenary speech. Yes, like all presidents before him, Pres. Obama will not use the word "genocide" concerning the Armenian genocide. He refuses, for the 6th year in a row, to call it what it is.

Thank goodness, not every world and religious leader is squeamish in the face of real history. Pope Francis called it what it is: genocide. I'm with the Pope on this one, it was genocide. "60 Minutes" spent some time on the issue and, at best, they leave watchers to make some determination for themselves whether it was World War that killed so many Armenians or was it genocide. As for me, I think it was World War that provided some of the cover for genocide.

For all of human record, history tends toward the victor. Not in all cases, we know, but in most. 

So, the victor of the struggle of the Turks versus the Armenians is clearly the Turks. They don't teach their children about the genocide; they don't even call it that. If someone else does call the genocide exactly what it was while in Turkey, be warned, it's a punishable offense. 

Let me give you an example of how clear some considered the Turks' victory over the Armenians through genocide was, and, make no mistake, the person giving this speech is clearly saying that moving forward in victory is the cure for not being held accountable for the means used toward the end. 

In an August 1939 speech, just days before Germany invaded Poland, Hitler delivered what has come to be known as the "Obersalzberg Speech". To some, this speech is infamous and to others, erroneous; I will leave that debate to the professional historians. I believe it is consistent with the arrogance and tone of a well known genocidal maniac, so, yes, I believe Hitler said it. Pay attention to all of it, but, for this writing's purposes, the last line is critical: 

Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter – with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command – and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad – that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?

Hitler clearly saw what lay before him through the lens of what lay behind the world. If they drove out the Pole (and the Gypsy and the Jew and the Slav the infirm and the anyone-that-didn't-agree), and if they did so with finality, Hitler (1) did not care what anyone said and (2) understood that dead people do not stand in protest and (3) history only remembers what the victor reports for them to remember. 

The Turks believed / believe the same.

What is my point? 
There's the history lesson.
However, I do have a point. 

I remember. I was not born when the atrocities started in April 1915.
Still, I remember. 
It's not a historical farce.
It happened. 

Hundreds of thousands of people who confessed the Lordship of Christ Jesus were put to death for that confession. They were my brothers and sisters, and I remember. I grieve. 

No, I'm not Armenian.
No, to my knowledge, I do not have Armenian heritage.
Does it matter?
I have human heritage!
More so, I share heritage AND future with the people of the cross. 

There is an entire website dedicated to this 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian genocide. I suggest spending some time there. 

Through the Apostle Paul, the Spirit teaches us, "If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together." (1 Corinthians 12:26 ESV) At the loss of so many brothers and sisters, we still suffer together. Even in memoriam, our hearts languish in loss. But, we do not grieve as ones with no hope. We shall stand on the Holy Hill together. 

So, dear hearts, my purpose today is to remember, but to also exhort. 
Might we see lives matter? 
Might we begin to care about others more than ourselves alone?
Might we even begin to care about others at least as much as we care about ourselves?

In an age where we are rightly shouting, "Black lives matter!" I agree. And, more...
Armenian lives matter.
Aborted babies lives matter. 
Jewish lives matter. 
Christian lives matter.
HUMAN lives matter...
Life matters!

Brothers and sisters, friends and others, may we humble ourselves in the face of history, and in the face of our global events, and understand, lives matter. They just do. 

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