Dr. Paul Haidostian earned a BA
in psychology from Haigazian University, a M.Div.
from the Near East
School of Theology, and Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees in
from Princeton Theological Seminary. At the
time of this posting, Rev. Dr. Haidostian is the
President of Haigazian University and the Chairman
Central Committee of the Union of the Armenian
Evangelical Churches of
the Near East. The article below was published in
the newsletter of the
Armenian Evangelical Church of New York, April
1992. It was translated
from Armenian by Rev. L. Nishan Bakalian.
Transport Me From The Past to The Future
Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian
Yesterday at noon a non-Armenian asked me: “What is the Armenian Question?” Strangely, I found myself incapable of giving a satisfactory answer. Four years ago I could have explained the Armenian Question with much greater certainty, but the recent events in Armenia have had a dizzying affect on us as regards our view of our own history and our ongoing struggle.
I ask myself, what is the Armenian Question today? Is it the massacres begun in 1915, is it the struggle to liberate Artsakh, is it the complete realization of freedom for the Armenian Republic, or is it something else? We have heard the painful stories of the Genocide told in such descriptive detail from our elders, and we, in turn, have retold those stories to others so often, moving both speaker and listener to tears, that it is difficult for us to accept that the Armenian Question does not mean the Genocide and the deportations.
How can we expect that the wound in our hearts be forgotten before it is healed? Or that a new page be turned before the previous page—on Cilicia—is even read? Before it has heard our prior history, the world is hearing the new; before talking about solving the old problems, it is discussing the new.
I want to tell the world, “First let’s solve the question of Cilicia, then work on the Artsakh problem.” I know, however, that no one will hear.
World history and Armenian history will not stand still because I tell them to. Political conditions are fluid, and the past is fleeting; therefore he who wants be part of the future must keep pace with the changes in world history. The struggle is not between the old and the new; rather between my head and my heart. Mentally I am ready to put the past aside and move forward, but my emotions are woven so intricately into the past that I cannot calmly turn my attention to the new.
Amid this struggle, Armenian such as I look for a divine message. Which is more pleasing to God—to ignore the unsettled scores and pains of the past in order to meet the future? Or to cling to the past and to history, and put the resolution of past injustices above all else?
Peace of mind and heart comes to the believer from the realization that in every situation and in every time and place, God is present. He understands the believer’s feelings and struggles, and he gives him his guidance. Whether or not we accept it, God was with us in the past, and he will lead us in the future.
The past is part of our lives and makeup; it is impossible to separate ourselves from it. But we also want justice to be served in our national life as we participate in the dreams of a free Armenia and a renewed diaspora, and as we wait... We offer the hesitant and uncertain words of Moses to God, saying, “If your presence will not go with us do not carry us up from here” (Exod. 33:15); keep us in the past. Yet perhaps the past and the future, seen through the eyes of God, are not all that separate from each other.
So together let us pray that God make us respectful towards the past, sober in the present, and full of faith regarding the future, and amid this confusion say with certainty, “God will lead us even in unfamiliar paths.” Praise be to God, and bon voyage!