1 Jul 2010
Tears of Helplessness
Can you imagine a group of Armenian and Azerbaijani young people sitting in a conference room and amicably crying? Yes, it happened.
That day we all cried.
We gathered in a third country for a dialogue workshop to talk about Karabakh and the war, about how we feel about each other, the problems we share, our needs and concerns.
That day we were discussing how the Karabakh war has affected each of us personally. Everyone had a story to tell. Whether directly or indirectly, the conflict has affected all of us leaving negative memories and perceptions one wouldn’t like to talk much about.
The war happened during our childhood years. And even though most of us were too small to understand the war in its entirety, some vague memories have left irremovable traces on our lives, and our generation was deprived of many things because of that war and its consequences.
I really can’t remember from what point it all started but soon, trying to hold my tears out of fear that I might appear too emotional, I realized that that’s what everyone else — both girls and boys — were trying to do and were eventually failing.
That day I was trying to analyze what was the reason behind those tears. It seemed to me that we cried simply because we couldn’t bear the pressure of our perceptions and emotions towards each other, and because each side had the feeling that it were them who were the victims in the conflict. That’s how I thought first.
But later, analyzing all over again, it struck me when I realized that these were not tears of suffering and victimization. During the workshop each of us proved to be strong personalities with our own views and visions of the conflict, and we were definitely not considering us to be victims but rather challengers of the current situation.
So why did we cry? I think we cried because we have understood the absurdity of the situation, and because we could do nothing about it. These were tears of helplessness.
During this dialogue workshop, while talking to each other and sharing our visions we all managed to understand and accept each other the way we were. We didn’t need a resolution to the conflict to talk to each other and be friends. But it was obvious that our feelings were anyhow not shared and supported by our friends and other people in our countries.
In fact where we — young Armenians and Azerbaijanis struggling for peace and reconciliation — have found ourselves is an absurd situation.
On one side we have the willingness and the capacity to start talking to each other and face the problems that exist between our countries, maybe from a more constructive perspective than previous generations could do, even if it’s not about the final resolution of the Karabakh conflict but simply about communication and friendship on a human level. On the other side there’s a huge pressure and “censorship” from the part of our societies that limit us and bind our hands for our possible actions and initiatives.
But now that the political resolution of the Karabakh conflict does not seem to give any results, it is obvious that some new principles should be applied to break the deadlock on a human level. It is really encouraging to see that there are many people who try to break common perceptions and in a sense go against their societies by promoting peace and dialogue before the yet-unseen political resolution is achieved.
And even though these people will always be in minority and at times have that feeling of helplessness and inability to change anything in their societies, from my personal experience I know that it is sometimes useful to go through that feeling. For me those tears of helplessness were the most encouraging tears of my life. Because after that I have decided to devote some part of my life to making peace in the region, not to the political one, but to the one on a human level. And I am happy that I was not the only one to cry of helplessness.