12 Steps & Principles To Help Embattled, Devastated, And Struggling Armenians
Recovering After Azerbaijan and Turkey’s Genocidal War, Ethnic Cleansing & Land Grab
By Vic Gerami
I want to share something very personal with you, and hopefully my experience, strength, and hope will help at least one person. I am a grateful recovering alcoholic and I have been sober for almost thirteen years. As not to break the tradition of anonymity, I won’t mention the name of the program that I’m in. I will simply note 12-Step.
So why am I telling you this? Because the principles of the 12-Steps apply to pretty much every aspect of life, whether someone is an alcoholic or not. They are simple but not simplistic guidelines for dealing with life’s ups and downs, extreme lows, and extreme highs, and teach us to tackle everything that life brings us.
Let me use some of the most popular 12-Step slogans to share some comfort, hope, and maybe even inspiration.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
We prioritize the things that are the most important-basic necessities for the refugees, food, shelter, and medical care. Medical care and long-term care for injured veterans.
Safely escort those people who can return to Artsakh and ensure their safety.
Push OSCE Minsk Group to restart negotiations. With the help of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, press the US to take a leading role in the negotiations, along with the French and the Russians.
ONE DAY AT A TIME
We didn’t lose 75% of Artsakh overnight or even in five-weeks. Azerbaijan and Turkey launched a calculated and strategically engineered attack on Armenians living in Artsakh. With ample proof and peer journalists reporting evidence of coordination and collaboration between Azerbaijan and Turkey, the purchase of weapons from multiple other parties in advance, and the hiring of jihadist mercenaries from Syria, Libya, and Pakistan.
Azerbaijan hired six top lobbying and PR companies in Washington DC to bribe legislators and control the media narrative. So, we must be patient and be even more strategic going forward.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
Regardless of how passionate all of us are about Armenia, Artsakh, and what’s good for it, we must be open to considering others’ perspectives and ideas.
BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION, NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM
If we keep blaming each other, keep pointing out the obvious, and get stuck in the past, then we are part of the problem.
IF NOTHING CHANGES, NOTHING CHANGES
If we don’t change our strategy, our thinking, and our ways, then the results won’t change either.
YOU CAN NOT THINK YOURSELF INTO RIGHT ACTION, YOU CAN ONLY ACT YOURSELF INTO RIGHT THINKING (My Favorite Slogan)
We can sit and think about what we want to do, going to do, and what things should turn out. But often times, thinking too much makes the task daunting. Sometimes we need to simply take the first indicated step no matter how difficult, and slowly our thinking will change. Motivation, will, and hope can arise from simply getting into action.
PRINCIPLES BEFORE PERSONALITIES
The steps that are necessary to secure, protect, and rebuild Artsakh should be our focus, not our differences. Let’s not get caught up in mudslinging and pointing out others’ imperfections.
HALT = don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
After a devastating loss in so many ways, it’s natural to lash out and try to blame. This becomes worse when we are HALT: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired
CHANGE IS A PROCESS, NOT AN EVENT
Don’t expect things to magically solve themselves. We are in for a long and difficult process, so let’s keep that in mind. Armenia’s needs are immense compared to its resources. Elected officials are tackling dozens of important issues at the same time. Though a testament to Armenians’ unity and commitment, the $170 million raised through Armenia Fund barely scratches the surface of Armenia’s needs.
RESENTMENTS ARE LIKE DRINKING POISON AND EXPECTING SOMEONE ELSE TO DIE
We will not forget what Azerbaijan, Turkey, Aliyev, Erdogan, ISIS, Syrian, Libyan, and Pakistani mercenaries have done, or other de facto enablers who sold them weapons, among other things. When possible, we will push for their punishment through sanctions, the international courts, and other political means. But we cannot be consumed by our resentments. It won’t do anything to them, but it will be detrimental to us and our progress.
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD
We can have all the faith in God and believe that we will eventually succeed and prosper. But without the necessary work and sweat, blind faith is futile.
EASY DOES IT
Armenians are warm-blooded and temperamental. But cooler heads must prevail so we can move forward strategically, rather than a knee jerk reaction.
PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION
We keep doing the next indicated step and turn over the results. We can strive for perfection to achieve extraordinary results. But perfectionism is a trap.
After doing the hard legwork, we must have hope that anything is possible, including regaining all of Artsakh.
THIS TOO SHALL PASS
Armenians have been around for thousands of years. We’ve been through countless wars, battles, and the genocide. We shall overcome this too.
LET GO AND LET GOD (God of your understanding)
At some point, it becomes a lot to handle for one person. I think that all of us have been up at night trying to make sense of it all. But we can take a brief break at bedtime and ask God, “Please God, let me hand all my problems to you just for tonight, and I’ll pick it back up tomorrow.’
CULTIVATE AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
This is especially true for those of us who are in the diaspora, devastated, licking our wounds, and feeling sorry for ourselves. We must think about the families of our fallen heroes, disabled soldiers, their families, 100,000+ refugees, the children, and the hardship and mental health of our fellow Armenians. Then, we can do a gratitude list of everything that we must be grateful for.
LIVE LIFE ON LIFE’S TERMS
We cannot keep harping at what should have been, what could have been, or must be. We must live life on life’s terms. THIS is where we are. This is what happened. What are WE going to DO about it?
FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS
Don’t believe everything that you are feeling. Sit with it, make sure you have eaten, rested, had enough sleep, and not simply feeling down. You may have a different perspective tomorrow.
TURN IT OVER
We do the legwork until we are exhausted, then we turn over the results to the universe. We don’t have control over the outcome, just our work.
JUST FOR TODAY
Thinking about everything is overwhelming and can seem daunting and even impossible. So, we must simply do what needs to be done daily. This one day at a time process helps to ease the burden and make the work ahead more manageable.
GIVE TIME TIME
Don’t rush what only time can resolve.
PASS IT ON
We learn from our mistakes, experience, strength, and hope. We must pass it on to others and be there for those who are at a different stage in their process. We learn more about ourselves and become better at what we need to do by talking to those who are in a tougher place than we are.
DON’T LEAVE BEFORE THE MIRACLE
It is going to get a lot worse better it gets better. But we must not lose faith and stay no matter what. Stay can mean different things for different people right now. But universally, it means to stay on course with our motherland and our embattled compatriots. I don’t ask what my motherland can do for me; I think about what I can do for my motherland.