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How to sum up our Armenian realities today? What strikes me most is that Armenians have managed to survive manifold hardships throughout history without giving up on our faith, language and history.
Indeed, Armenians are today as conscious as ever of their collective identity. Those who live in the now-independent republic of Armenia are struggling with their lives as citizens of a young and reborn state, whilst the majority who live across the four corners of the world have learnt to integrate into their respective societies and contribute willingly to their welfare.
However, if anything, I would exhort fellow Armenians to be less ethnocentric, to open up more humbly and tolerantly to other peoples who are also stewards of our global village.
Much as we are proud of the constituent elements defining our overall identity as Armenians, we become stronger when we learn to love the other more.
My observation rings true for us as well as for many other minority communities world-wide. For us Christians, it is the essence of the way and call of Christ.
Let me leave you with what I consider a transfiguring motto of the Armenian Church. It sums up centuries of prayer, experience, steadfastness, prudence and fidelity. Articulated initially by St Augustine, the Armenian Church leader St Nerses the Graceful re-iterated this motto in the 11th century by stressing that “Unity is in the essentials, Liberty in the non-essentials, and Love in everything”.
Listen to the broadcast version of this at: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/hagopian270810.mp3
© Harry Hagopian is an International lawyer and EU political consultant. He also acts as Middle East advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris and is a regular Ekklesia contributor (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/HarryHagopian). Formerly, he was Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches. He is a member of, and adviser to, the Armenian Orthodox Church. Dr Hagopian’s own website is www.epektasis.net
This is the fifth in a series of reflections (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12919) to mark the 20th anniversary of Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia. These are being broadcast daily on Premier Christian Radio (www.premier.org.uk/) and will be archived as podcasts on Ekklesia, with thanks to PCR.
See also: 'Being Armenian yesterday and today' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12935
'Armenia and the coming of Christianity' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12940
'Armenia's memory of annihilation' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12957
'Armenia: To forgive is divine' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/12978