“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” – Albert Einstein
The beauty, grace and harmony of the night sky have always inspired and captivated the human imagination. It gave humanity hope that beyond this world of pain and suffering, there is something elegant, something pure and majestic to live for. However, in our fascination we often overlook the fact that all the stars, galaxies, and wonders of the skies combined hardly represent five percent of the universe, the rest – the vast majority of the space is almost completely filled with an invisible, mysterious substance we call dark matter. It is a lifeless, lightless, shapeless and colorless substance that as far as we know does nothing, contributes to nothing, simply exists, and is utterly indifferent to all the beauty, light, and life around it.
It is frightening to reflect and realize that indifference and apathy are also a disease affecting our society and our lives. As Armenians, we witnessed the cold touch of apathy during the last two weeks. We felt and experienced just how humiliating it feels when our pain, our suffering in Artsakh was ignored by the media, governments, or international organizations. For most anyone on this planet, the war in Artsakh is a problem far away from their homes and families, a conflict between two tiny states for a region they know nothing about. Yet, for us, it is a fight for survival and a war for preventing another Armenian Genocide. Being ignored, being alone in a time of suffering and struggle is perhaps the absolute worst thing that can happen to a human being. Feeling that your pain, your life, your survival means nothing to people around you is positively far worse than pain and death itself.
American writer, professor, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel formulated perhaps the best description of indifference when he wrote: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Apathy is a feeling and paradoxically, what makes it unique is that it’s essentially the feeling of not feeling. Allowing our hearts to be hardened to the point where we can simply move on with our lives despite the human misery next to us, learning to close our eyes and pockets to innocent suffering, learning to silence our compassion and empathy, losing our ability to connect with the pain of another human being are all vivid red flags and signs that somewhere along the path of our lives we lost our humanity. Being human and being alive is not the same as having a heartbeat and being able to breathe. Being human means being able to connect and relate to the pain of another human being.
Our Christian faith teaches and encourages us to embrace and heal every form of human suffering we come across. The Gospels show us that Christ never turned anyone away, never refused and denied anyone healing and salvation. He reached to everyone, connected with everyone, healed everyone in pain and fed everyone hungry. But Christ never stopped there. He invited, embraced and connected with every form of human pain and suffering anywhere in the world by saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
In the past two weeks, I have seen a lot of disappointment and heartbreak outpouring from the wounded hearts of my Armenian brothers and sisters. We have talked and discussed what this and that media should have written but did not, what this or that head of the state should have said and done but did not do. And we have every reason to feel disappointed, we live in a very cruel and silent world. However, this is also nothing new for us as a nation. We have experienced genocide, mass killing and extermination simply for being Armenian. But beyond death and genocide, the worst part for us was the silence of the world.
We can’t change the world, but we can ensure that we are not indifferent to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Artsakh. It is very easy as a human being to justify our inaction to ourselves that others will certainly donate, that there are rich Armenians and they should be donating, that eventually Russia, Europe and the U.S. will interfere and surely there can be no Genocide in Artsakh, or that what we can give is not going to make much difference anyway. This war is fought on the two fronts, we are either in the front lines of Artsakh fighting or we are in diaspora praying and financially supporting our country. Indifference is not an option, we simply can’t afford Armenians who neither fight nor support the cause financially and spiritually. Our indifference will gravely endanger our own lives and well-being. God forbid if Artsakh falls, if there is another Sumgait, Kirovabad, Baku massacres or Genocide, we will never be able to live with ourselves, we will become an accomplice of the new Armenian Genocide.