Last night while out for a stroll with my dog I met my friend Haik who lives next door. We were talking about the advantage of having a garage to keep a car away from gasoline thieves. who love to ravage my Niva’s fuel supply.
While we chatted the upstairs neighbor, who along with his wife and kids has snubbed me for the last five years despite the number of times I’ve said hello, stopped to great Haik and exchange New Years greetings. As they were parting I overheard him telling Haik that he had taken his family to Moscow for the holidays, since staying in Armenia was “meaningless.”
The neighbor, purportedly a banker by profession, is one of these nouveau riche Yerevanites who suddenly found himself with a lap full of cash overnight. Within the span of only a couple of months I recall he purchased two brand new Hyundais and remodeled his home. And now that he has the money to burn, it’s “meaningless” for him and his family to celebrate the holiday season in their own country. Like it’s all some big joke.
Vacationing outside Armenia for New Years and Christmas is a trendy thing to do nowadays. But this sentiment of meaninglessness is permanent, particularly amongst the wealthy. A glance of the daily headlines will make this obvious — government officials trying to push through deals to excavate hundreds of hectares of land for mining projects, or displacing hundreds of homes for urban development projects, cutting forests to sell the wood, and so on and so forth. For these people, it appears it is “meaningless” to take pride in your country, since as the old ludicrous saying goes, “the country is not a country” to begin with. And since the world is going to end this year as many the naive believe, it’s better to take advantage while you still can. Yet the nouveau riche appears to have been living by this mindset on a daily basis, and I am convinced they have no love for country, only what they can reap from it for fattening their purses. An imprudent generalization, I admit, but there it is.
I can’t say what this New Year will bring for Armenia. But there’s one thing I always hope for — when people with the means to benefit their nation will come to their senses, reset their jaded attitudes and begin to innovate rather than devastate.