I Can’t Seem To Finish

I started reading a book last week only to stop somewhere halfway through and leave it on my desk. Every time I take it in my hands to continue reading I drop it back on the desk. Strange enough, it started very well. The beginning, the first page, was so interesting that it made me want to read it in the first place.

Twenty pages later the book was still interesting enough for me to continue. Her style is so captivating that I wanted to go on. But somewhere along the way the story completely changed and I lost my interest in it. The shift in the character was so unbelievable, at least for me. 

This has been an issue for me of late. I can’t seem to find a good book to read. By good I mean having all the right elements a story should have. The beginning, the middle and the end with round and believable characters. Rarely have I come across a story that has it all. It’s so sad because my library is full of books that I want to read and I can’t, even though I want to.

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The problem with the book I mentioned earlier can be best explained perhaps by using Norman Cousins’ words. He writes:

“Too many current novels put situations ahead of people. It is felt, apparently, that characters exist for the purpose of accommodating a plot, thus minimizing the human potential and demonstrating the limitless possibilities of personal shrinkage. This is not the way to write good novels, much less great ones. There is nothing wrong with the audience; it is not true that people find the real world so dramatic that they can see no excitement in the product of the writer’s imagination. Give readers a book with people they care about and they will queue up to shake the author’s hand.”

ChK

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The Human Spirit Knows

On an ordinary day like today, when I look back at my life, especially the time when we moved to Canada, thinking, wanting to be better off than we were while living in the Middle East, I can’t help but be sad. Because we had such a comfortable life back then in Dubai and yet we wanted a change. Was it ambition that led us to make the move? If it was then it had nothing to do with the norms of finding a better job or a better living, since we had it all and we were happy.

Our ambition was of another sort altogether. It had nothing to do with riches or fortune, but everything to do with ourselves. We were very good in our fields of expertise, in fact we (my late husband and I) were both great at what we did, but we wanted to try our chance at a different kind of life before it was too late, or at least that’s what we thought.

We never thought or dreamt that our life together would be cut so short. Even two and a half years after his death I still think of that one day and what I wanted to tell him but didn’t because I didn’t think, I didn’t realize the time had come for him. Mitch Albom writes:

“Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.” 

After that day, all I have been doing is collecting days. And I even have found a sanctuary sort of place for myself. A place where I feel completely sheltered from the outside world. A place where I go and sit every morning after the kids leave and I read or write. There was a time when I used to cry a lot. But I don’t do that any more. Not as much as I used to before. And yet I still feel the need to be away from all that’s going on around me. I shut myself up there and read and sometimes even scribble. 

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And on such days I like to read Hemingway. I like how at the touch of his pen insignificant details become so meaningful. I like how he lends romantic charm to such simple and ordinary things as a walk or a meal or a conversation, a simple every day conversation. I like how his heroes are an entirety in themselves. How there is no split between any of his heroes, between the mind, the heart or the body. They never hold any part of themselves back. Mostly I like how behind his fine stories of love and death I recognize my own familiar world. 

Mitch Albom writes:
  
“It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn’t just take someone, it messes someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.” 

ChK

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Thank You Kurt Vonnegut!

For the last two days I have been quoting politicians and journalists hoping that my readers will familiarize themselves with the facts concerning that dark era in our history, the Armenian Genocide. For all of you who read my posts I thank you from the bottom of my heart. As Dr. Mark Vonnegut (M.D) wrote:

“We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”

One of my all time favorite books is “Blubeard” published in 1987. It is a story created by one of America’s finest writers, Kurt Vonnegut, known for his use of science fiction in his stories.

In his book “Bluebeard”, or “The autobiography of Rabo Karabekian 1916-1988”, however, there is no reference to science fiction. The key character is Rabo, an Armenian artist, and the story is narrated by him. He writes:

“My mother and father had families bigger than those two of mine back in the Old world- and of course their relatives back there were blood relatives. They lost their blood relatives to a massacre by the Turkish Empire of about one million of its Armenian citizens, who were thought to be treacherous for two reasons: first because they were clever and educated, and second because so many of them had relatives on the other side of Turkey’s border with its enemy, the Russian Empire.

The German Empire, allied with the Turks, sent impassive military observers to evaluate this century’s first genocide, a word which did nit exist in any language then. The word is now understood to mean a carefully planned effort to kill every member, be it man, woman, or child, of a perceived subfamily of the human race.

The problems presented by such ambitious projects are purely industrial: how to kill that many big, resourceful animals cheaply and quickly, make sure that nobody gets away, and dispose of mountains of meat and bones afterwards. The Turks, in their pioneering effort, had neither the aptitude for really big business nor specialized machinery required. The Germans would exhibit both par excellence only one quarter of a century later. The Turks simply took all the Armenians they could find in their homes or places of work or refreshment or play or worship or education or whatever, marched them out into the countryside, and kept them away from food and water and shelter, and shot them and bashed them and so on until they all appeared to be dead. It was up to dogs and vultures and rodents and so on, and finally worms, to clean up the mess afterwards.

“One million, one million, one million,” he (my father) might say. This is the generally accepted figure for the number of Armenians killed by the Turks in the massacre from which my parents escaped. That was two thirds of Turkey’s Armenians, and about half the Armenians in the whole world.

“Musa Dagh!” he might say. This was the name of a place in Turkey where a small band of Armenian civilians fought Turkish militiamen to a standstill for forty days and forty nights before being exterminated.”

All of this and more from an American writer! 

Musa Dagh is where I come from. Both my grandfathers fought the Turks then and I am proud to say “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” by Franz Werfel is their story, my story.

Thank you Kurt Vonnegut. May you rest in peace!

Rose

ChK

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We Can Never Forget!

Last night while watching the news on television I noticed how the media’s perspective has changed about the Armenian Genocide. For a hundred years the media referred to the genocide as “mass killings” and now they are not shy of giving it its right name, Genocide. This is both a sad and happy phenomenon for me personally. 

I can’t help but wonder, why did it take most countries in the world a hundred years to acknowledge the injustice committed against us the Armenians? Was it because Pope Francis courageously called it the first Genocide of the 20th century? Why throughout all those years did the media refrain from calling those atrocities Genocide? Isn’t journalism all about the truth and less about politics?

According to Robert Fisk, the first writer to call the Armenian genocide a holocaust was Winston Churchill. For him:

“The clearance of the race from Asia Manor was about as complete as such an act could be… there is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race opposed to all Turkish ambitions, cherishing national ambitions that could be satisfied only at the expense of Turkey, and planted geographically between Turkish and Caucasian Moslems.”

In 1933 Churchill also wrote:

“The Armenian people emerged from the Great War scattered, extirpated in many districts, and reduced through massacre, losses of war and enforced deportations adopted as an easy system if killing… the Armenians and their tribulations were well known throughout England and the United States… Their persecutors and tyrants had been laid low by war or revolution. The greatest nations in the hour of their victory were their friends, and would see them righted.”

And then many years later Adolf Hitler ordered the annihilation of Poles. On August 22, 1939, he wrote the following:

“I have issued the command — and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formations in readiness — for the present only in the East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of  Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

We can never forget. We will never forget to demand justice!

Medals

Here’s more from my previous posts:

“The Parallel To Auschwitz”

“There Were A Million And A Half”

“Since Then We Never Stopped Walking”

“Is It Too Much To Ask?”

ChK  

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“The Parallel To Auschwitz”

In some of my previous blogs, I mentioned that I have stopped writing about the latest atrocities committed against innocent civilians in different parts of the world. As I have stopped to watch, listen to, or talk about politics and the different political views people have. Since I find it too painful. 

But this month, this week, marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. As an Armenian and the descendent of grandparents who fought against the Turks, and also to my parents who were deprived of their homeland, becoming refugees at the early ages of eight and ten, I owe it to them and to myself to express my feelings and thoughts on this matter. And by doing so I join my voice to the voices of millions of fellow Armenians around the world and demand justice be done.  

For a hundred years we have protested to the world and marched the streets of cities everywhere so that our cause, the so-called “mass killings” of the Armenians in 1915 by the Turks where over one and half million Armenians were killed, be recognized as Genocide. And only last week did Pope Francis acknowledge the fact that “The First Genocide of the 20th Century was that of the Armenians.”  

Prior to that, Robert Fisk (the British journalist of international fame), in his book “The Great War For Civilisation” (published in 2005) has an entire chapter dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. His chapter, chapter Ten, is titled, The First Holocaust. He writes:

“For Margada and the Syrian desert around it- like thousands of villages in what was Turkish Armenia- are the Auschwitz of the Armenian people, the place of the world’s first, forgotten Holocaust.
The parallel to Auschwitz is no idle one. Turkey’s reign of terror against the Armenian people was an attempt to destroy the Armenian race. The Armenian death toll was almost a million and a half. While the Turks spoke publicly of the need to ‘resettle’ their Armenian population- as the Germans were to speak later of the Jews of Europe- the true intentions of the Turkish government were quite specific. On 15 September 1915, for example- and a carbon of this document exists- the Turkish interior minister, Talat Pasha, cabled an instruction to his prefect in Aleppo. ‘You have already been informed that the Government… has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons living in Turkey… Their existence must be terminated however tragic the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to any scruples of conscience.
Was this not exactly what Himmler told his SS murderers in 1941?”

Rose

For those of you who are not familiar with my story here are some links to my previous posts:

“There Were A Million And A Half”

“Since Then We Never Stopped Walking”

“Is It Too Much To Ask?”

ChK

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Everyone Has Two Memories

Julia Cameron claims that writing is therapeutic but not therapy. 

Therapy: Treatment, rehabilitation, healing, remedy, cure…
Therapeutic: Healing, beneficial, curative, remedial.

She also writes: “From my perspective, healing is essentially a creative process: we create a new state of health.”

I believe it’s true. For the past few years I have been using writing to heal. And I have to admit I have come a long way since that horrifying day on November 12, 2012. Other than the creative writing I do for my blog, for the other writing projects that I have in mind and want to start one day (hopefully soon), I write every day. I don’t read what I write, I just write whatever comes to mind at that time.

The Writer

William Styron wrote: 

“I’ve read a lot about the creative process. It’s a mysterious phenomenon. I don’t know what makes it work or what makes it malfunction…. But I submit to you that there is something utterly mysterious about the unconscious. I suppose a lot of it is the desire to flog yourself to the point where the words you put down are as close to the truth as can be.” 

I write mostly about my wounds and my pains. In my writings I question my purpose in life. I write about what bothers me. I don’t read what I wrote. I have notebooks filled with my feelings, my disappointments, my heartaches, my dreams and my hopes, and I have never reread any of them. For me the important thing is to pour my heart out on the page. I know that the page won’t disappoint me, it won’t even give my secrets out. So it’s the safest medium whereby I can explore my inner being, my deepest feelings.
 
“Everyone has two memories: The one you can tell and the one that is stuck to the underside of that, the dark, tarry smear of what happened.” Amy Bloom

ChK

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Facebook Rant!

Have you ever stopped what you were doing for a moment and looked around you and realized that perhaps you have it all? We as human beings are so ambitious, so greedy for wealth, emotion, power, that most of the time we don’t realize that we are lucky to be alive. We want more. There is nothing wrong with that except we are so busy working, going after our dreams, that we miss the other things, the simple things that gave us so much joy at one time in our lives.

We have more than what our parents had, our generation has achieved more than theirs in terms of science, technology, medicine (to name a few), and yet the killings of innocent people and atrocities and genocides are still part of our daily routine. 

I have long stopped my involvement in politics. I mean, what goes on around the world still interests me but I have stopped blogging about what upsets me every time. The killing of innocent civilians, no matter what religion or nationality, no matter where around the world… For me no reason is big enough or good enough to justify that.
 
I spend sleepless nights thinking about all the atrocities committed by humans against humans. Especially this month which marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I can’t stop thinking about how even 100 years after what happened to us, after how the world allowed it to happen, there were so many other genocides, with the rest of world still watching. And that for me is the biggest issue now.
 
We have created a world for ourselves based on deception, especially on Facebook. We have friends from all over the world, friends whose voices we haven’t heard, whose faces we haven’t seen, other than through the only pictures they want to show us. 

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We use social media to express our beliefs and ideas. And yet I can’t get myself to post anything about these incidents and issues because I find them extremely painful. And if you are one of those friends who keeps posting about only your issues and expecting me to applaud you while you keep ignoring the rest of the world, then sorry I won’t and I can’t be present on your page.

For me every innocent life that is lost is a cause for concern. Every human being has the right to be here in the same way we do. Just don’t send me accusatory or hurtful messages about my page or how I use it. 

Paulo Coelho writes:

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

ChK

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