Our campaign for “unity through re labeling" has failed and our survival in the land of the Twin Rivers teeters on disaster.
The process of nation-building begins when a single community of individuals becomes aware of its distinct attributes and comes to a decision to propagate these attributes into future generations. This process of “collective self-actualization” is a course of action that requires years or possibly decades of dedication, an inexhaustible source of funding, and a clear vision.
Today’s Assyrians are product of centuries of political and religious persecutions and 150 years of devotion to a national struggle, which have left them with an indelible sense of deprivation and self-pity. Even though as Assyrians we seek intellectual emancipation through the precepts of modern political ideas and institutions, our distrust of others and even of ourselves prevents us from completing this process of collective self-actualization. As a result, we have no coherent sense of national identity.
Without a national identity we are unable to define our national interests as they become more and more dominated by subnational (ethnic, tribal, regional, and religious) interests. Our modern Assyrian nation is basically a cloister of ethnic, Syriac-speaking communities throughout the world that identify themselves as inheritors of the “Ancient Regime” and members of religious denominations.
Without a national identity we are now facing fractionalization and eventually extinction. Fractionalization continues to occur at all levels: religious, ethnic, and cultural. Slowly it will lead to the deterioration of our language, historical continuity, and traditions. The process has already begun.
Today we must think practically and begin a new strategy. First we must critically identify our current parasitic condition in which our greatest achievement is survivability. Living as consumers and not producers.
Then we must submit a desirable future condition within our adopted countries against which all our national efforts must be reckoned. The latter is a state of being in which we, as a recognized people, produce goods and services, and use a percentage of our production in maintaining our national interests. When we attain sufficient economic and political power, then stepping up to the final level of self-determination can be conceived.
To escape from our current condition a new ideology must be formulated to carry us forth in the shortest, least resistant path. This new “ism” will act as our guiding principal. It will empower our people to move forward, by renewing their interest in our cultural and national attributes such as our language, history, and arts.
It will then encourage us to work harder and to contribute to the betterment of our adopted countries, increase our population, our standards of education, our collective economic and political power. In short, this “ism” will help us become producers.
As producers, we will no longer be threatened by extinction and will have become substantial contributors to our adopted countries. This symbiotic relationship must continue until we have gained a substantial mastery of the economic and political power within our adopted countries.
Our history has been progressing toward a new multi-state existence, much like today’s multi-national corporations. We began 6755 years ago in the alluvial lands of Sumer as small communities of Mesopotamian cultures and slowly developed into autonomous city-states, and finally massive empires. Our empires collapsed and we discovered “Christianity” which affirmed our new ideology of post-empire existence.
The world’s societies must be changed to accept Assyrians as Assyrians, and not as remnants of a dead civilization. To gain the respect of our local and national governments we must choose capable leaders who will respect our national identity as Assyrians. No civic, political, and religious leader ashamed of his Assyrian identity must be allowed to hold any office in our organizations and churches. Today, many politicians and bishops hide their true resolve for sake of public approval under the guise of unity by using ambiguous ethnic titles. Scholars fear denunciation from peers and are transforming a political accord in Iraq into historic identity across the world. All must be silenced; all must be dismissed.
Ninety years after two out of every three Assyrians perished in the hands of our Moslem neighbors – Turks, Arabs, and Kurds – there exists only one name that can stir our national struggle to finality – our seven thousand year national identity of ‘Assyrian’. Anything else has and always will be a distortion of our legitimacy.
Let us represent the composition of the Assyrian identity as an area circumscribed within a circle, at the heart of which dwells the centripetal force of Nineveh – the ancient symbol of strength, honor, and unity.
As we move closer to the center of this circle, the Nineveh in our Assyrian galaxy, we find ourselves becoming one with every element of our collective conscience. In contrast, as we move further away from the center we discover other shades of our existence that circle around the sun, deprived of its warmth. These small identity planets rotate around Nineveh, claiming their own individuality and direction. Yet, none comprehends the elusive nature of their total existence – that it is the gravitational force of the divine spirit of Nineveh – the heart of the Assyrian galaxy – that maintains their individuality without which they cannot exist longer than a moment in memory.
Today, we must focus on the sun and not the planets, on the gravitational force that has kept us in alignment and not the black holes represented by our misguided political and religious leaders. Their wisdom is just that – a black hole in the universe constantly swallowing our collective victories for their own selfish aggrandizement. Leave them alone to their own devices and follow in the path of the sun!
The Assyrians (they prefer to be called differently) hanging on the edge of the imaginary circle described above have no plans, no alternative to the cultural slaughter that threatens to last only another generation. If left to their own devices, in 50 years from today there will be no Assyrians, Chaldeans, Chaldo-Assyrians, Assyro-Chaldeans, Suryoyo-Assyrians, Arameans, and so on. There will only be Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Persians, and the memories of a great nation that was defeated in 612 B.C. and finally conquered in 2050.
On the 90th anniversary of the greatest calamity fallen on our nation Zinda Magazine challenges the Assyrian political groups around the world to think Assyrian, demand Assyrian, and most importantly, respect and claim every other name and identity as Assyrian.
Needless to say you shall become the butt of laughter and ridicule from all quarters, including the intellectuals. Many detractors will consider you clowns and deride you for our principals.
But you shall remain steadfast in your vision of Assyria – reaching for that which has been a beacon of light in a place that has for the last ninety years grown dark, a place that has lost its moral bearing, a place whose leaders apparently would rather compromise for the sake of popularity and public approval.
You will be called extremists, dangerous dreamers, and wishful thinkers. If so, for a few moments think of the Assyrian child in Kharput, Turkey separated from her mother in April of 1915 and sliced into pieces before her father’s eyes. Your extremism is the extension of the life she never completed.
Now it is time to develop concrete proposals that can bring Assyrians back to the table we never left in Paris in 1919. Our campaign for “unity through relabeling" has failed and our survival in the land of the Twin Rivers teeters on disaster.
For the sake of every man, woman, and child killed by the sword of the meteorite forces that periodically enter our galaxy to bring about death and destruction, let us not surrender to disillusionment and give up our vision of arriving at Nineveh.
For the last ninety years the enemy has basked in his victory, but you and I have not been conquered yet. We will persevere lest we forget our genocides and covet the empty promises of other mortal men.
On the 90th anniversary of the Genocide of the Sword (Seyfo) let us renew our commitment to the struggle we began when the palaces of Nineveh were burned down by those we worshipped in the same temples. It gave us strength when Shappur II massacred 120,000 of our men, women, and the clergy in Persia, when Timur Lane destroyed every one of our villages and turned Tigris into a river of blood, and when Saddam was torturing our youth in the cells of his dark chambers.
We may have been defeated, but never shall Assyrians be conquered!
May the Souls of the Victims of the 1915 Genocide Rest in Peace!