One of our parishioners told me about a recent encounter she had with an Armenian priest. She was talking about the work that we did for Darfur, primarily with the Fast for Darfur. The priest expressed his disappointment that we were not channeling the money to Armenia.
The (il)logic is this: There are so many people in need in Armenia. We’re an Armenian church in the Diaspora; therefore, we should be reaching out to Armenia instead of Darfur.
I’ve heard it before. In times past, I would argue the case of the universality of the Christian message and the need for Armenians to look beyond “our own” in offering help, realizing everyone is “our own.” In a sense, this is what this kind parishioner argued with the priest.
But today, it clicked in my head. This is just another way of passing off responsibility. Fine – let’s not even go in the direction of Darfur. Let’s stick with Armenia. Have you helped someone in Armenia? Have you even offered hope to someone in Armenia? For everyone who criticizes our work in Darfur, they need to look at our track record, whether it’s Mariam who gets treatment as a guest of In His Shoes, or the clothes and toys that we send to the villages of Vanadzor, or the sister churches and Sunday Schools we’ve adopted. So, let’s bring it down to a simple question: what are YOU doing for the people of Armenia?
I find that most of these people who are critical of our work for Darfur and want us to redirect attention to Armenia, are not doing a thing for Armenia themselves. It’s just a lazy persons argument, revealing their deep prejudice. If you don’t want to do something, you’ll find any excuse you want.
A story from Naseredin Hodja:
Hodja’s neighbor asks him: May I borrow your rope?
Hodja: Sorry, I’m using it to tie up the water in the back yard.
Neighbor: What do you mean? You can’t tie water with a rope.
Hodja: If I don’t want to lend you my rope, I can use any excuse I want.