By Dikran Abrahamian BA, MD, Ontario, Canada, 18 October 2008
Reflections on the Occasion of the First Anniversary of Keghart.com
Three years ago I started collecting email addresses from several sources that had come my way. The easiest of course was through personal friends who had sent messages with addresses of third parties attached to their communication. Next were forums in which I participated. The most time-consuming was the extensive search of a variety of websites to contact new people and establish personal relations.
This collection of addresses came in handy when in September 2007 Keghart.com was launched as a website dedicated to community activities and Human Rights. Within that context, and being the son of a survivor of the Genocide of the Armenians, I was determined to tell the evolving story of my people. Today's Armenians include a Diaspora spread out around the world and a tiny country called Armenia, along with a liberated piece of land, Artsakh (called Nagorno-Karabagh in the current political literature). The Diaspora and those lands face numerous obstacles. Yet they are a part of me, as they are a part of so many other millions of Armenians scattered across the globe. Keghart.com is my way of expressing the concerns that face Armenians in the Diaspora and the Homeland.
I am neither a scholar nor a politician, but I did study politics in my younger years, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Public Administration (1966) at the American University of Beirut. During my student years I was active in the Armenian community and local Lebanese politics. I taught in Armenian and non-Armenian schools, and did odd jobs here and there, in order to secure funds for my education. I am passionate about travelling and have criss-crossed many countries, where I met people that taught me humility and I learned how to listen to and empathize with others. As Hrant Dink would have said - I try to see the other in me.
Luckily, at around the age of thirty I came to realize that without being able to ameliorate my lot and be independent in mind and body, I could not help others. Probably that was the moral justification that led me to change course and take up Medicine for the rest of my life. At present I am semi-retired, which provides me the luxury to communicate with you through Keghart.com.
The website is updated every two or three weeks. It is not apolitical, and yet has no political affiliation either. Postings reflecting the views of a wide spectrum have been welcomed onto the site. Nobody has a monopoly over ideas. Armenians in the Diaspora do not form a monolithic entity, and their affairs are foremost propelled by individuals within a matrix of a multi-centric environment. Armenians do not live in ghettos - a restrictive view of the world has gradually given way to a more inclusive and humanistic approach. The young amongst us are the witnesses of that phenomenon. Having been equipped with new skills, expanded knowledge, and a better understanding of the multicultural surroundings, they will overcome new hurdles.
Similarly, non-Armenian individuals are partners in solving many problems that we face. To this end a conscious effort has been made to involve them. Keeping them informed is the first step. Over the course of the past year my greatest satisfaction has been to periodically provide information and selected essays to more than five-thousand non-Armenian Canadians in academia at major universities throughout Canada, along with various professionals and people of all walks of life.
This task could not have been carried alone. I thank all the contributors, including those who provided essays, pertinent information, commentaries, suggestions and advice. Without that crucial help the website would have not survived this long. Similarly, I thank the readers and subscribers who have joined in sizeable numbers. Various media venues considered several items from Keghart worthy to republish; their friendly gesture of cooperation is much appreciated. It would be a disservice not mentioning 24april Forum (Canada) participants who supplied food for thought. Last but not least, my special thanks go to Vako Nicolian (www.varnitec.com) whose technical expertise has made it all come together. My four daughters, my son, and especially my wife have all had a share of this project too. They have endured my whims at odd places and at odd times throughout this period. The only words befitting such support are - I love you.
In the coming year, Keghart.com will continue to be guided by the principles of Human Rights and Freedom of Speech, provided the latter does not infringe on the rights of others and is not insulting. It will strive to be all inclusive, exercising a pragmatic approach, and without being influenced by ideological preferences. Within those parameters it will promote a banner exchange between on-line publications based on reciprocity. This will provide the readers gaining access to a variety of opinions. Individuals, who have not had the experience, or have limited alternatives to express their voice, will be encouraged to make their debut in Keghart.com.
Cognizant of the limitations of any website, but keeping in touch with daily changes in technology and responding to requests from readers, some improvements are planned. These may involve full browser compatibility, a printer friendly option, search modality for previously written articles, a comment section for each item, a rating system, polls, surveys, and RSS feed capability. All of these are scheduled to be gradually implemented.
It is hoped that the next year will be as productive as the previous term.