In 1915, 100 years ago, a radical group of Turkish Muslims invaded Armenia and inflicted a genocide that must not be forgotten. The lower estimate is that 1.5M Armenian Christians, it being one of the oldest Christian nations, were slaughtered. More were taken prisoner. The Armenians put the estimate closer to 3M souls.
Here, we will share some of the details and lasting effects of this genocide, but we will follow it with messages of hope and love. Please, read thoughtfully and prayerfully. There will be a take away from this history lesson that all of us need to act on.
Though the words Armenian Genocide never occurred until 2004, there is little question that that's what it was. Historians say that there were around 2M Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire and that most of them were slain or taken.
The Ottoman rulers, like most of their subjects, were Muslim. They permitted religious minorities like the Armenians to maintain some autonomy, but they also subjected Armenians, who they viewed as “infidels,” to unequal and unjust treatment. Christians had to pay higher taxes than Muslims, for example, and they had very few political and legal rights.
There was a previous massacre which occurred between 1894-1896, in which hundreds of thousands of Armenians were killed.
Then, in 1915, there had been a rise in power of these young Turks and they imposed another attack on the peaceful Armenian Christians.
On April 24, 1915, the Turkish government, now run by these radical young Turks, arrested and executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals. They herded many into the sea and stood guard until they drowned. The marched many others, sometimes naked, without food or water, into the desert and made them march until they dropped dead. If they stopped walking, they were shot. In most cases, deaths were prolonged and exceedingly cruel, rather than quick and painless.
Many children of the adults who were murdered were left on their own to fend for themselves. They wandered streets alone and searched for food and a place to sleep.
Some families escaped to Iran and other surrounding countries, but returned as soon as they could. U.S. missionaries aided many in their escape.
The genocide ended in 1918, with the surrender of the Ottomans. At that point, the young Turks fled to Germany, where the were safe from prosecution.
With the memory and constant fear of another attack, the Armenians did their best to rebuild their lives. They approached the Soviet Union and were taken under their wing for protection, becoming a communist nation at that point. For 70 years, they lived under their rule until they once again became their own people.
The thing to remember is that if they had denied their Christianity, this might not have happened.
- Our children join gangs out of fear and the need for belonging and acceptance. They are gunned down in the street anyway.
- Thousands upon thousands of babies, with souls, are slaughtered too soon after their lives begin, and their parts sold.
- We live in fear of the next terrorist attack.
- Women's bodies are mutilated to enforce fidelity.
- Daughters starve themselves to death to try to overcome negative self-image.
- Children cut themselves and turn to drugs to drown out the noise of abuse and neglect.
- Babies are born addicted to mothers who have given up hope.
- Teenagers sell themselves on the street and die from AIDS.
But, there is an answer. Love. Respect. Love. Tolerance. Love. Humanity. Love. Empathy. Love.
The Mormon's put together a sweet message that says it all.
Here are some positive messages that Carol learned there:
- Children are valued highly. They count. They are the most important. The Armenian orphanages get the very best of everything. Though these children are without parents, they are loved and cherished. When Carol visited and saw the conditions, she was amazed. She asked what we, as blessed people, can do for these children. She was told that the little girls need pretty dresses. They care about the children's self-esteem and not just their most basic physical needs.
- Armenians are not bitter, but are rather humble and grateful for what they have. They don't waste time mourning their losses or lacks. They celebrate what they have.
- They love the Americans for the assistance they were given by American missionaries during their crisis.
- They look out for one another.
A very cultured people, they remember the loss through music, art, and literature, as in the song in the above video.
Now, here's your takeaway from this story. Though we may not participate in a genocide or actively contribute pain and cruelty to anyone, if we aren't part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
We can start, right now, with a neighbor, a family member, a friend, a stranger. Be kind. Say nice things. Be brave. Show what you believe through the way you live. Seek to do random acts of kindness. Help when help is needed. Think, when you wake up in the morning, about what you can do. Pray to your God for guidance in who needs assistance. Don't put down others for what they believe. Just live your life as an example. Show tolerance and acceptance for those who live lifestyles you don't condone. Give unconditional love. Stop judging. Stop gossiping. Stop looking for evil. Stop thinking and speaking negative things.
In short. Love. Love. Love. Without borders. Without conditions. Without judgment. Without hesitation. In spite of differences. Just love. Think globally. Act locally. And love.