James Joyce once said;
“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
Years ago in Dubai, when my kids were still in elementary school, my son asked me one day as I picked him up after class, “Mom what am I?”
Surprised, I looked at him.
“Because one of my friends asked me today where was I from and when I told him I am from Lebanon, he said I was lying. He said that I had a weird name and that I didn’t know Arabic.”
“You can speak other languages.”
“But I don’t know Arabic.”
And I thought;
“The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language, and no single language is capable of expressing all forms and degrees of human comprehension.” Ezra Pound
“Did you tell him you have an Armenian name?” I asked.
“Yeah, but then he asked, what’s that?”
“Well, next time he asks you can tell him that you are Lebanese but of Armenian origin.”
He stopped for a moment and then said, “Make up your mind, am I Lebanese or am I Armenian?”
I looked at his innocent face, and thought. Honestly! Did I with all my adult wisdom expect this little seven year old to understand the identity crisis that I experienced? For years I have tried to follow in the footsteps of my parents and keep our tradition alive, and at the same time keep in touch with the rest of the world. I for one was raised in an exclusive society, in an Armenian village in Lebanon. My son was going to an international school, with pupils of various cultural backgrounds and different religions and nationalities.
“But we are living in a skeptical and, if I may use the phrase, a thought-tormented age; and sometimes I fear that this new generation, educated or hypereducated as it is, will lack those qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humor which belonged to an older day.” James Joyce
What was I thinking?
“You know what, it doesn’t matter where you come from or what language you speak, you are you, and nothing can change that. So next time someone asks you where you come from you tell them what you like.”
“Can I tell them something else then?” He laughed.
“Yes, you can. You tell them that you are a human being. How about that?”
“A human being – what is a human being? Everything and nothing. Through the power of thought it can mirror everything it experiences. Through memory and knowledge it becomes a microcosm, carrying the world within itself. A mirror of things, a mirror of facts. Each human being becomes a little universe within the universe!” Guy de Maupassant