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#1 ara baliozian

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Posted 11 May 2001 - 10:02 AM

FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
********************************
1.
Our partisan editors have made it abundantly clear to me that they have no interest in my work and as far as they are concerned I might as well be a non-person. Even so, I have every reason to suspect they will be more than happy to print my name in their weeklies provided it is in a brief obituary, which they hope to se soon – though sooner would be preferable.

2.
Justice has two sets of wheels: the first is turned by human institutions, the second by life. They are both slow but life’s wheel sometimes can be so slow that it appears to be stationary, and worse: it seems to be turning in the opposite direction – to the advantage of the unjust and the guilty.

3.
"Our leaders are human beings like all leaders, and they have made their share of mistakes," I am reminded once in a while, and: "Can you name a single perfect leader?"
Suppose a bus driver has an accident and several of his passengers, among them members of your own family, are killed. How would you feel if he pleaded not guilty on the grounds that as a human being he could not plead infallibility. or perfection?
Now back to our leaders: I am more than willing to accept their humanity, their failings, even their incompetence and blunders; but not their lies, propaganda, and revisionism. If they have been dividing the nation, let them admit it as a failure. If they have been alienating a fraction of their own membership, let them not say that the fault lies with the alienated. Finally, if they are human beings, let them become aware of their own fallibility instead of asserting they are always right and everyone else wrong.

#2 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:17 PM

posted June 05, 2001 10:58AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
********************************
Anyone who knows anything about Armenian literature also knows that the right words have been with us for 1500 years but so far they have had no effect on those who need them most.

"Solidarity only on my own terms" does not mean solidarity but its exact opposite.

American scholars agree that there has always been a strong anti-intellectual current in American history. The same applies to Armenian history, but the only thing Armenian scholars agree on is covering up this fact.

Where a part-time janitor makes more money than a full-time writer, there will be an abundance of trashy propaganda and a total absence of ideas.

The smaller the country the more bloated the egos.

I don’t trust a regime under whose administration those willing to emigrate outnumber those willing to stay in.

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ara baliozian

#3 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:18 PM

posted June 15, 2001 11:26 AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
******************************
Our politically unaware and na´ve masses are no match for sophisticated and cunning activists and partisans who are in charge of our educational institutions and media.
To be a success in politics, one must master the art of flattering the idiot in people.
That is a talent I don’t have and a skill I have no desire to acquire.

A **** thinks the sun rises to hear him crow. A fool think he is the sun.

Confusion arises when you are brainwashed to believe that you are beyond criticism and you can do no wrong: as a result, the harm you do and the hatred you inspire in others becomes incomprehensible.

A teenage girl without a single idea in her head can make a fool of an old philosopher with a thousand ideas everyone of which could save the world from destruction.

Armenian military leaders in the service of the Byzantine Empire conquered Italy (Narses) and Bulgaria (Basil II). None of them was even remotely interested in defending Armenia against its enemies.

In a perfectly crafted book what becomes memorable is the clumsy phrase, the misplaced word, the human touch.

The Middle East: from the cradle of civilization to a cesspool of unsettled tribal scores.

One reads not to get at the truth or to find the final answers to the most important questions. One reads in the hope of coming across an idea or even a hint that, combined with our own experience, will create a spark that may illuminate a dark corner of our psyche.

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ara baliozian

#4 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:19 PM

posted June 06, 2001 11:04AM
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NOTES & COMMENTS
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Investigative reporters are the eyes and ears of a nation. This point should be emphasized. A nation without investigative reporters might as well be blind, deaf, and dumb.
Some leaders behave like shepherds: first they fleece, then they butcher. I have at no time thought of our leaders as my friends, let alone as my servants, but as my enemies.

If a messianic figure were to appear among us and if he were to discover the solution to all our problems, you can be sure of one thing: we would crucify him. And why? Because his solution would make too many demands on us. Which is why I feel justified in asserting that, when an Armenian says "What is your solution?" what he really means is: What is your magic formula, hocus pocus, or abracadabra?

I will never understand people who feel the need to support one side against the other. If I can loathe both sides, I don’t feel compelled to choose; and whenever asked to choose, I quote Dr. Johnson’s celebrated dictum: "Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea."

An eminent psychiatrist (R.D. Lang) once remarked, it is not at all unusual for an imbecile to have a high IQ. That’s us! Cunning wheeler-dealers, moral and political imbeciles.

One reason why so far I have refused to give up is that, that is exactly what my adversaries expect me to do. They know from experience that in the environment they have created, someone like me has a very limited life span and that far better men than myself eventually gave up in disgust and fell silent. There is satisfaction, not to say a sensation akin to victory, in knowing that I continue to be a source of disappointment, perhaps even annoyance, to them.

In our environment no one ever prospered by promoting solidarity.
If you want to hit pay dirt, divide! (That must be the unspoken slogan of our bosses and bishops.)

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ara baliozian

[ June 18, 2001: Message edited by: MJ ]

#5 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:20 PM

posted June 04, 2001 06:53 AM
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ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATISON!
*****************************************
The first step in solving a problem is to admit its existence.
A victim of fascism can also be a fascist.

The problem with our pundits is that so far they have failed to change the mind of a single parish priest or partisan flunky, and yet, they think they can convince the machinery of foreign bureaucracies to change theirs.

Two questions to our pundits:
When was the last time you changed your mind about anything?
Have you ever been able to change the mind of a fellow Armenian pundit who disagreed with you?

To enjoy wide acceptance a theory or explanation must be compatible with recycled chauvinist crap, otherwise it will be labeled and dismissed as unpatriotic, masochistic, racist, and self-hating.

The fascist mind comes in two parts: the ideological and the criminal; and the function of the ideological is to camouflage the criminal.

The ease with which we solve someone else’s problems may also be a symptom of man’s inhumanity to man.

Politicians who profess family values see nothing morally inconsistent in screwing the nation.

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ara baliozian

#6 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:23 PM

posted May 25, 2001 06:40 AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
***********************************
You may have noticed that, when an intelligent man behaves stupidly, the reasons he invents to justify his conduct will be even more stupid.

I don’t believe in the ignorance of the cunning, the unawareness of the smart, and the innocence of the devious. When a loud-mouth charlatan says "I didn’t know that!" more often than not what he really means is: "There is no way you can prove that I knew."

Jean Rostand: "The persistence of an opinion proves nothing in its favor. Astrologers still exist."

Leonardo: "Wherever reason is absent, shouting takes its place."

Some leaders behave like shepherds: first they fleece, then they butcher. I have at no time thought of our leaders as my friends, let alone as my servants, but as my enemies.

I will never understand people who feel the need to support one side against the other. If I can loathe both sides, I don’t feel compelled to choose; and whenever asked to choose, I quote Dr. Johnson’s celebrated dictum: "Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea."

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ara baliozian

#7 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:25 PM

posted March 14, 2001 06:55 AM
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UNDERSTANDING REALITY
**********************************
Reality is not pretty; neither is it fair.
Reality supports the mihgy and massacres the weak.
I don’t support reality; but I want to understand its secret intentions. I want to know its schedule and where it will strike next.
Organized religions and closed systems of thought are popular because they promise a better reality, sometimes even a utopian heaven on earth, thus legitimizing our wishful thinking:
the weak shall inherit the earth, they tell us, the oppressed shall be liberated, and the lamb shall lie down with the lion.
Maybe so. But for the time being, I have no desire to make friends with the lion, unless his teeth and claws are pulled out or he is converted to vegetarianism. And if I cannot be a dragon in a world of lions, then I want to know all I can about his territory, habits, and feeding schedule so that I may avoid being his lunch.
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#8 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:31 PM

FROM MY DIARY
**************************
I remember to have read somewhere: "By saying NO sometimes we prepare the ground for a bigger YES."
It has been said that there are two kinds of socialism: the socialism of ideologues and the socialism of pickpockets…and the tragedy of the human condition is such that sooner or later the pickpockets are destined to triumph over the ideologues: from Jesus Christ to American televangelists, and from Marx to Brezhnev….

MEMO: Always remember to be a truth-seeker not a point-maker.

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you wrong us, shall we not revenge?" demands Shakespeare’s Shylock. The best answer to this question is provided by an old Arab proverb: "If you wait long enough at your window you will see your enemy’s funeral pass by."

The whole world knows that the official designation of Armenians in Turkey is "Christian Turks" – the whole world except, it seems, some Armenians in Turkey. Why am I surprised? I spent the first twenty years of my life in Greece and I didn’t know that the Greeks called us "Turkish gypsies" – with some justification, may I add: the Armenian ghetto near Athens looked like a gypsy encampment. It is only very recently that I read about this in an English-language reference work on ethnic slurs. It’s the old story of the husband being the last man to discover that his wife is being unfaithful to him.

To how many of my critics (make it, kibitzers) I could say: "Obviously you and I have nothing further to say to each other. Please ignore my things and I promise to ignore yours."

Men see women as sex objects because in homo sapiens instinct speaks louder than reason. On the day reason conquers instinct mankind will enter a new Golden Age, wars and revolutions will become obsolete, all contradictions will be resolved rationally, and the lion shall lie down with the lamb…and if the carnivores of this world cannot survive on salad greens, I for one will not mourn their extinction.

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#9 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:33 PM

posted June 15, 2001 07:06 AM
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A PAGE FROM MY DIARY
***************************
Defeat and suffering may ennoble a man; but oppression and subservience degrades him. I wish I could say we are an exception to this inflexible rule.
As long as they say and repeat over and over again that we are victims of Western hypocrisy and Turkish barbarism, I will go on saying and repeating we are also victims of our own tribal and incompetent leadership, and let my critics go on saying and repeating I am beginning to sound like a broken record….

I love books written by old men near the end of their lives. I love above all the resignation, the serenity, and the painfully acquired realization that if life is a gift, so is death; as for failure and success, let me quote Tolstoy: "The more I succeed in the eyes of the world, the more I fail in the eyes of God," and I have my doubts about God.

More inflexible rules:
When a political party with a clearly defined ideology and agenda gets involved in education, its aim is not to educate but to brainwash.

In an authoritarian environment any writer who refuses to recycle the propaganda of the dominant class is sooner or later either silenced or starved.

Politics or the pursuit of power is like a virus that contaminates everything it touches.

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ara baliozian

#10 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:37 PM

posted May 29, 2001 10:52 AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
********************************
Tribalism in action: In a single day I once received four reactions to one of my essays: in the first I was dismissed as a "moron"; in the second as a "racist"; in the third I was described as "an honest observer who is not afraid to speak his mind"; and in the fourth as "the most intelligent Armenian alive today."
A painful discovery: To make a Turkish friend these days is almost as easy as to make an Armenian enemy.

Only the abysmally na´ve confuse realism with pessimism.

When a man speaks, it is easy to guess whether he is parroting his schoolmasters’ sentiments or expressing his own thoughts.

Don’t talk to me about dedicated partisans with ethics. Power does not corrupt; rather, it is the corrupt who lust for power. Trying to talk to them is like trying to cross a Brazilian river teeming with ravenous piranhas. If you reach the other shore weighing half as much, you should thank God and count your blessings.

It is only when you try to change the status quo that you acquire a better understanding of the powerful forces that hold it together.

To how many Armenians I could say: "As long as there are people like you in this world, we will have wars and massacres."

It is not the best who brag about their identity, but the worst.

When I think of the kind of people who succeed these days, failure appears as a more interesting alternative.

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#11 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:39 PM

naira
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Naira
Member # 397
posted May 29, 2001 12:06 PM
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To how many Armenians I could say: "As long as there are people like you in this world, we will have wars and massacres."
---
IMHO. Actualy this sounds more like a compliment, Maestro!

Originally posted by Naira

#12 MJ

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 04:43 PM

ara baliozian
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Member # 271
posted June 02, 2001 07:28AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
********************************
Why should I be surprised if in the land of instant coffee they demand instant solutions to our millennial problems? And if you fail to deliver them first thing tomorrow morning, they call you a whiner, a malcontent, and someone who does nothing but bitch.

Bad guys tend to have a longer life span than good guys because they are tougher, more resilient and adaptable, and with many more tricks up their sleeves than the good, the innocent, and the honest. As Plato explains somewhere, the crooks of this world are more successful because they employ both crooked and honest means to get what they want, unlike the honest who employ only honest means.

To those who tell me there is no light at the end of the tunnel and mine is a battle in a war that was lost a thousand years ago, may I confess that I agree with them at least seven times every day, which is said to be the number of times a pope doubts his faith every day.

Very often patriotism boils down to the absurd statements: "My lies are better than yours"; "my fallacies are better than your truths"; or even "my ignorance is better than your knowledge."

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#13 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 04:46 AM

ara baliozian
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Member # 271
posted June 23, 2001 07:10 AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
********************************
As I have said before and it bears repeating:
we may be unique but our problems are not. In a biography of George Orwell I read:
"His refusal to be any party’s dog made a political pariah of him and a near pauper."
Somewhere Plekhanov writes: "Bourgeois scientists make sure that their theories are not dangerous to God or to capital." Something similar could be said of our academics: they always make sure that their views are not in any way critical of the dominant minority (their sources of income and prestige); but when it comes to outsiders or minor scribblers: they can be as venomous as Turkish cobras. And what is even more astonishing is that they think their readers or the average Armenian is too stupid to see this.

History tells us intolerance is as old as mankind
and it has claimed millions of victims;
common sense tells us you cannot appease intolerance, only expose it;
and common decency tells us, to silence those who expose intolerance
is to promote criminal conduct.

What I find most offensive about us (I am not as familiar with other ethnic groups and if they are all alike I suspect they too have their critics and dissidents) is the disparity between our rhetoric and our actions. We pretend to be smart but we behave like political morons, constantly dividing and subdividing ourselves as if the ego of our petty little sultans were more important than the survival of the nation.

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#14 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 04:49 AM

ara baliozian
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Member # 271
posted August 25, 2001 07:09 AM
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NOTES / COMMENTS
*****************************
To the man who tries to achieve excellence, nothing should be more alarming than the approval of the mediocre.
History has been defined as one damn thing after another. Our history may be defined as the same damn thing all the time.

I don’t see why I should trust the judgment of a man who holds the same views that I held forty years ago, views that were not mine but those of a schoolmaster who was employed by a power structure (political party or organized religion) with a clearly defined agenda whose central concern was not truth but power.

Venetian saying: "The priest’s friend loses his faith, the doctor’s his health, the lawyer’s his fortune."

Alexander Dumas fils: "I prefer rogues to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest."

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#15 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 04:51 AM

ara baliozian
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Member # 271
posted August 28, 2001 07:07 AM
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ON NATIONAL IDENTITY
AND OTHER SHIBBOLETHS
***********************************
The most illuminating and brilliant remark about national identity was made by a French writer of Jewish descent, who, when asked by a journalist in what way his Jewish heritage had influenced his life and work, is said to have replied: "It changed the manner in which I take a crap."
When two schmucks agree, they assume they have achieved national consensus.

To contradict not out of conviction but for the pleasure of contradicting:
I call this a quintessential Armenian vice.

The longer I live the more doubts I have. I miss the good old days when I knew everything I needed to know and I had all the answers.

If you say something remotely intelligent,
don’t be surprised if you are contradicted by imbeciles.

This is a free country and you may subscribe to the lie of your choice.

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#16 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 04:53 AM

ara baliozian
Member
Member # 271
posted June 20, 2001 06:56 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTES / COMMENTS
********************************
As long as we have patriotic Armenians willing to contribute to the welfare of the nation, we have nothing to worry about. But as long as these same Armenians express indifference or even contempt towards all forms of criticism and dissent we have a great deal to worry about, namely: intolerance, violations of fundamental human rights, and fascism.
Writing for Armenians and being exposed to their verbal venom has made me realize that we all harbor a killer and, in the words of Shahan Shahnour, "our greatest enemy is not the Turk but us."

In times of peace and prosperity we tend to forget that the world is a very scary place. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to love my neighbor but for all I know he could be a serial killer. And nothing would give me more pleasure than to love my fellow Armenians but for all I know they could be my future executioners.

Socrates tells us a man who is aware of his ignorance is wiser than a man who is not, and that false knowledge is the source of all evil. In our case false knowledge consists in thinking that we know better because we are better.

A friend writes: "I still hope and wish as you do that perhaps, some day, there will emerge some kind of leadership not based on money but an ethical, moral, and basically pragmatic political know-how." To which I can only say, Amen!

Nothing can reveal a man’s character as drastically as money, power, and anonymity.
Anonymity or the use of aliases, it seems to me, is for criminals, but I also believe by making us more transparent, it eliminates a considerable amount of misleading chitchat and mumbo jumbo.

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ara baliozian

#17 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 05:00 AM

ara baliozian
Member
Member # 271
posted June 17, 2001 07:36 AM
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FROM MY NOTEBOOKS
*****************************************
Lincoln was wrong:
you can fool only one person all the time: yourself.
We don’t burn books; we prefer to bury writers.

Whenever I am asked what I do for a living, I say I am unemployed.
For some reason, I find that a more dignified tag
than identifying myself as an Armenian writer.

If any one of us on this forum became president of Armenia tomorrow,
we would have no more problems on the day after.

It has happened more than once that
those who develop an intense dislike of me
become my most faithful readers.

Once upon a time
a good day was one in which I produced a good line.
Now it is one in which I succeed in offending a bigot.
To paraphrase an old slogan:
A day without a mad bigot is a day without sunshine.

Sometimes I cannot help suspecting that
our leaders behave as if their unspoken slogan were:
"From defeat to defeat until the final catastrophe";
or is it - "From catastrophe to catastrophe until total annihilation."

When asked whether or not I am proud to be an Armenian,
I say, I am surrounded by so many proud Armenians that
I prefer to be a humble one.

When a brown-noser adopts a critical stance,
you can be sure of one thing:
he will not criticize the leadership but the people,
because to criticize the leadership
would amount to biting the posterior that lays the golden egg.

Sartre: "Literature unveils to readers their own situation
in order that they themselves may assume its responsibility."

I have always been suspicious of people
who brag about their own real or imaginary assets.
He who says "I am smart," seldom is.
He who says, "I am wealthy," never is.
And he who says "I am an honorable man,"
or "I am a patriotic Armenian,"
is either a charlatan or a bloodsucker.

It is not easy reasoning with a man who calls you an idiot.
As for the man who threatens to kill you:
I have every reason to suspect,
if he realizes his ambition,
his lawyer will plead insanity,
and he will be absolutely right.

I have known many charlatans
but I have never heard any one of them admit to being one.
Charlatanism and confession are incompatible concepts.
Murderers may confess; charlatans, never!

G.K. Chesterton: "Thieves respect property;
they merely wish the property to become their property
that they may more perfectly respect it."

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ara baliozian

#18 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 05:02 AM

ara baliozian
Member
Member # 271
posted June 13, 2001 10:48 AM
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ON EDUCATION
+++++++++++++++++++++
Prejudice is a byproduct of ignorance.
Education is our only solution.
No one in his right mind would contradict the
above two statements.
The question is:
How do we go about changing our educational
system, which has been and continues to be
controlled by our political and religious
institutions (which happen to be the sources of
our prejudices).
Khachatur Abovian (1805-1848) tried it and he
was driven to suicide.
In order to survive as a schoolteacher and
writer, Oshagan (1883-1948) had to flatter the
egos of bishops and attack those (like Zarian)
who dared to adopt an anti-establishment stance.
Raffi (1835-1888) put it best when he said:
"There is something fundamentally wrong with our
educational system because we concentrate on our
children and neglect the community as a whole. We
should be busy teaching every member of the
community to develop his mind and to shed his
prejudices and misconceptions. We should give
them books to read. A good book can save a
nation. But a people that does not like to read
cannot be educated."
What happened to Raffi?
A wealthy Armenian merchant hired a Kurdish
bandit to assassinate him. But when the Kurd
realized his target was a harmless scribbler, he
refused to carry out his assignment..
Moral of the story: Sometimes an Armenian merchant can be
more dangerous than a Kurdish assassin.

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ara baliozian

#19 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 05:30 AM

ara baliozian
Member
Member # 271
posted June 19, 2001 10:52 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTES / COMMENTS
*******************************
Most Armenians are smart enough to see they are contradicting themselves
but their ego makes them temporarily blind.
I write for the same reason that jungle beasts mark their territories,
mutts raise their hind legs against fire hydrants, and benefactors raise walls with their names on them: to say KILROY WAS HERE.

In a Jewish anthology I came across the following joke:
When a man in an overcoat flashes a Jewish woman in the garment district of New York, she says: "This you call a lining?"

According to Valery Larbaud, "The rich are morally castrated; the poor are castrated in all respects"; and "Seek out friends who contradict you provided they do so without passion." Elsewhere he calls people who live in diaspora "cosmopolitans of misery."

If you say the earth is round, you will make enemies among those who believe it is flat. The truth shall set you free, we are told; what we are not told is that it will also make you hateful in the eyes of dupes who prefer to live in a world of fallacies and lies.
Everything comes with a price: why should truth and freedom be exceptions?

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#20 MJ

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Posted 01 September 2001 - 05:51 AM

ara baliozian
Member
Member # 271
posted August 07, 2001 11:00 AM
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTES / COMMENTS
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It is impossible to be too cynical about Armenian politics – that combination of conniving, cunning, arrogant leaders without vision and their abysmally na´ve and loud-mouth dupes.
Theoretically speaking, the insults of a self-satisfied semi-simian sriga should be as welcome as the agreement of an honest man; but in practice, any insult hurts regardless of its source for the same reason that the bite of a mad dog hurts.

Some of my readers issue orders as if they were general and I a foot soldier: which reminds me of the German diplomat who, while in Yerevan, is said to have remarked: "Every morning three and a half million Napoleons wake up in Armenia."

Take any two Armenian brothers and one of them is sure to think of himself as Abel and to behave as Cain.

I dream of the day when I will be able to write: Since no one insulted me yesterday, I have nothing to say today. That’s because I believe good conduct should be rewarded.

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ara baliozian




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