The weekend of the 5th and 6th of March 2011 in my opinion can be marked as the birth of a new Aramaean conscience. An odd 45 young people joined together in Gutersloh Germany at the SUA Youth Acadamy to discuss various issues concerning the Aramaean people worldwide. I consider myself blessed for participating and sharing knowledge, hopes and dreams with fellow Aramaeans in these two days. The themes Identity, Politics and Leadership were central to dicussions on how we as a people can strengthen our position in this world so we can continue to speak our language, practice our faith, safeguard and develop our cultural heritage and defend our human rights worldwide.
This new conscience did not rise suddenly nor was it bestowed from the highest forms of Aramaean representation, the Syriac Universal Alliance. Already in the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, the US, Australia and various other countries young people took over charge in local and countrywide associations and ultimately claiming seats in the worldwide governing body SUA in 2008. Lawyers, Semite linguists, dentists, financial advisors, business administrators, IT specialists now for a large part make up boards in socio-cultural organizations. They are supported by more and more enthusiastic youths and elders who are confident that a new generation can voice the feelings and thoughts of one of the oldest people still living on this planet. The Youth Academy brought this new conscience to light.
Where the Syriac Orthodox church remained silent, the Aramaeans who identify themselves with this almost 2000 years old institution, with a clear and loud voice expressed themselves against the developments threatening our people in the Middle East. Especially human rights and the freedom of religion in Iraq and Turkey are subjects with which SUA, its national federations and local unions deal with. We will not allow the state of Turkey to seize our property and destroy with it our cultural heritage. We will not stand by to see one of the oldest indigenous inhabitants of Iraq flee the country leaving burned houses and churches behind. In contrary, we will actively seek ways to strengthen ourseleves and organisations throughout the diaspora so we can help our kinsmen in the Middle-East. Also awareness is raised to form policies to safeguard the Aramaean language. In two days, 45 young people reached common ground and common goals. They are not afraid to voice their opinions and are ready to serve their people.
After these two days I can conclude that this new Aramaean conscience has led again to the thought of an Aramaean nation. This concept is not physically tied to a nation-state and will not directly lead to an autonomous region, but is living in our minds and hearts. It is time that we sow more seeds so that even we and definitely our children, if God permits, will pluck their fruits. With hope, strength and faith we will move on.
A man in 1965 asked Mor Philoxenos Dolabani: ‘is it the end of the Syrian Orthodox Church if, in fleeing from Turkey, the faithful will probably lose their identity and traditional faith?’ The bishop answered: ‘The end of our church will not come, my son. If the sun of the Syrian Orthodox goes down in Turkey, it will come up again somewhere else in the world. The healthy root was, and will always be, there, even if the tree was cut drastically, again and again, it will continue to blossom, because of its undamaged root.’ (C. Chaillot, 1998)
www.sua-ngo.org (also for the latest news and developments regarding Mor Gabriel and land issues)
http://sor.cua.edu/ (on the Syrian Orthodox Church)
Sebastian P. Brock et al, The Hidden Pearl, Roma, 2001
C. Chaillot, The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, a brief introduction, Geneva 1998
My gratitude goes out to all the participants and those who have made the whole academy weekend possible.
SUA Youth Academy logo courtesy of SUA (www.sua-ngo.org)
Other photos courtesy of Maria Kara