Not So Gratifying
BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
It may seem like a bad topic to write about in this season of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and the annual Armenia Fund Telethon (this year dedicated to developing Artsakh’s tremendous agricultural potential), but a reader brought an article to my attention titled “Murders, suicides, and fatal accidents plague the Armenian military,” published by OC Media, which contains some very worrisome data.
If the numbers are accurate, then in the 2010-2016 period, more of the deaths suffered by the armies of the Republics of Armenia and Artzakh are non-combat (259, or 59%) rather than casualties of war (213, or 41%)! Please see the accompanying chart which I have replicated from the original article
We all hear about these deaths, but not in the aggregate, which comes as a bit of a shock. Why are there all these needless deaths?
Some of it may come from hazing, which evidently harks back, systemically, to Soviet times, but all militaries have been known for it since… forever. But judging by the causes of death, that cannot be the main reason.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why this is going, it must stop, and stop immediately. There are evidently laws on the books in Armenia to fight this, but clearly, they are not working, for whatever reason – because they are insufficient to the task or unenforced. This is a matter of the countries’ survival, given our bloodthirsty eastern and western neighbors.
The good news is, the army enjoys a high level of trust among Armenia’s citizens, 65% of respondents, though 62% believe it is non-transparent. Interestingly, three quarters of young people believe that problems and incidents in the army should not even be discussed or publicized.
This is corrosive, because in time, abuses leading to deaths will erode the positive numbers cited above, it cannot be any other way. Heavy duty pressure, very public, is the only way to induce rapid change. Really, the only change required is simple – up and down the chain of command, everyone in the military must act with decency and respect.
Let’s get on this. The security of the slivers of our homeland still under Armenian control are at stake. When you donate to Armenia Fund this year, send a note along saying you want to see a fundamental and rapid reduction in the non-combat military death statistics.
Yes, indeed, I am going to discuss appearance, specifically, people’s, and more specifically Armenians’, since we seem so fixated on denying ourselves.
There are countless adages and quips about beauty, a quick online search allowed me to select a few and add those that I remembered.
1- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
2- BEAUTY x BRAINS = CONSTANT.
3- BRAUN x BRAINS = CONSTANT.
4- Beauty is only skin deep. (But ugly goes clear through to the bone).
5- Pretty is as pretty does.
6- There is certainly no absolute standard of beauty. That precisely is what makes its pursuit so interesting.
7- Glamour is a shooting star, it catches your eye, but fades away, beauty is the sun always brilliant day after day.
8- Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.
9- People are more than just the way they look.
10- People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
Many of these apply to us and our self-image.
Copious amounts of money are spent on superficial modifications. Why? Many seem to pursue looking like “a model” when those objects of temporary adulation are nothing but unhealthy examples of fixations on exterior “beauty” – or glamor. (see #s 1, 7, 8, and 9 above)
What’s worse is when the particular “look” someone aspires to have is very alien to that person, be it genetically or culturally. No doubt we’ve all seen Armenians, especially those among us with darker toned skin, who decide to dye their hair blond(e). Often, the eyebrows are neglected, resulting in a ridiculous appearance. Either way, the result is usually just this side of hideous. It looks just as absurd as bleached-hair-Japanese. Then we have the hair removal fad, and this applies mostly to our men. Again I ask, why? I can’t help but recall learning, in my “History of the Caucasus” class, that in the 19th century, Georgian women were considered very alluring because of their… “unibrow” as its now derisively labeled. (see #6 above)
Body shapes are subject to the same unnecessary modifications, too. Whether biceps, breasts, or buttocks, why mess with how we’re shaped? If some group developed adaptations to their environment (flatlands, forests, mountains, etc.), why should some temporary, passing, fascination with another group’s body shape inspire surgical intervention? (see #s 6 and 9, and above)
When Armenians, or anyone else, engages in this kind of behavior, all we do is betray a fatuousness, an internal emptiness, a lack of self-confidence, and even self-hate. (see #10 above)
Why adopt others’ notions of beauty, or those based on what is natural and native to other groups, rather than one’s own?
Let’s love Armenian beauty amongst ourselves and enjoy the beauty of others when we visit them. (see #s 1and 8 above)
Link: Not So Gratifying