I never knew about this part of history…I never ever knew
After my concerts, after I have been singing the ancient Armenian folk songs and weaving in the story of my grandparents, survivors of the Armenian Genocide, the very ones who passed on these folk songs to me, after I share this history through story and song, the conversation with audience members usually consists of the same theme: I never knew.
Why is it that I never knew about the Armenian Genocide?
I am asked this question over and over again by people who are stunned.
It happens again this week. She comes to me after having wept through a movie which tells of our history and her eyes are blood red and she is shaking. And I look intently in her eyes as she attempts to process this truth. I stand there with her, quiet.
She is struggling. She is grappling with her own past.
But I have studied history
She is pleading with me
I have read the books
I studied history in high school and college and how is it that I was never taught, that I have never even heard about this part of our world history? I haven’t seen these words typed on the pages of the books I have been given to read
I am patient; I am listening
How is it possible that this is something I have never heard about? This doesn’t make sense to me…
There was a Genocide in 1915
But I never knew
She is angry now
I never knew there was a Genocide in 1915
I never knew that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred
I never knew that countless Armenians were sent on a death march through the desert
I never knew that there was an organized, intentional, systematic plan to annihilate a people group
I never ever knew
And she questions and questions
Her mind hurts
She goes and investigates and reads
She reads and reads and reads
And she learns
And she begins to understand
The words she has been given to study in the past and the books she trusted; her mind is swirling and she is dizzy and she is struggling with the words typed up in those books, the words spoken by those who taught her and what was left in the books and what was left out and it is all a mess in her head right now
And there is gap and her eyes are opening
And I ask her something
So here is the thing how is it that you never ever knew about this part of world history and why does it matter? What difference does it make anyway?
And she looks at me and says
And so here is the thing what is the truth?
And what do I do now?