Before I delve into this next post, I want to provide a little background on a topic that will help you understand my following thoughts a little more clearly. That topic is me. So for those who do not know me, I have a tendency to be a pretty negative and cynical person. I don’t like stuff. I get grumpy if I’m not asleep by 9:30 and I generally assume that most things are out to harm me. This may conflict with the image I project through most of my postings. That is because when it comes to matters of Armenia I tend to be unwaveringly optimistic.

Which brings me to the crux of my post. This has been discussed before, but it seems at times when discussing Armenia, the knee-jerk and sometimes completely groundless response is negative. Most people are familiar with the tired stereotype of the “yergiruh yergir chi” types who enjoy lamenting either about their existence in Armenia or about something they’ve heard about Armenia while they are not in Armenia. Sure, some of those complaints are entirely warranted, as they are in any country. But I feel like it has reached a point where, because this reaction so often goes unchallenged, it has become the unconscious response. The interesting part however comes when it does get challenged.

When I meet someone living in Armenia, whether they are Yerevantsi, Kessabtsi, Gyumretsi or any variation of Armenian therein, sometimes the conversation devolves into recycled iterations of what we’ve all heard before. But when they are met with a stoic response,

Stoic Nora.

Stoic Nora.

they seem momentarily taken aback that I am not agreeing. Let alone sympathizing:

Sympathizing Nora.

Sympathizing Nora.

Once they realize I’m hip to their game and don’t necessarily concur, attitudes change and I start hearing,

“Actually, it’s a pretty nice place to live.”

“Actually, it is kinda safer here.”

“Actually, I do think it’s the best place to raise my kids.”

Etcetera. Etcetera.

And this goes both ways. I’ve met many a diasporan who has a cornucopia of opinions about this country. However, as soon as they are questioned, it becomes plainly obvious that many times, there isn’t any actual information or research conducted by the parties in question but just regurgitations of what they think they are supposed to say.

“Everyones poor in Armenia”

“Theres so much corruption in Armenia, that like, you know, bad stuff happens, like, all the time.”

“Theres so much _______ a normal person can’t _____.”

Its like a game of really depressing, hysteria-inducing mad-libs. Just fill in the blank with negativity.

Listen, I too am guilty of this. As I noted in the introduction, I love me a negative, knee-jerk reaction to most anything. And I’m not saying that there aren’t many real problems that must be addressed. It just gets so very boring to hear the same things over and over again. So perhaps, next time, instead of jumping at the chance to recite what we’ve learned since kindergarten about Armenia, lets pause and actually think if what is about to escape our lips is truly warranted because even that measured reluctance to succumb to negativity can make a difference.  As the queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey, once said, “the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

oprah-winfrey-jpg

Oprah Winfrey.