Lately, I’ve had doubts. Doubts about living here, surviving here, settling here. For let’s be honest, I’m still not quite settled. I remember the big question I had before I made the move to live here: is it sustainable? By sustainable, I don’t mean is it environmentally or ecologically sound to live in Armenia; I mean, can one live and work in Armenia without any outside support (financial or otherwise). Are the resources inside the country sufficient to make a decent living?
To elaborate further: I know that those who have savings and investments built up from a life abroad, those who work for international agencies in Armenia where the money comes from outside the country and those who’ve established businesses in Armenia, but their sole (if not the majority of their) earnings come from clients outside the country — all these groups of people can live in Armenia quite comfortably, but it doesn’t solve the equation: the money is still coming from outside.
The more I’ve looked into this issue, the more depressed I’ve become. Because, if only by surveying the many, many others I know who live and work here, I’ve come to the conclusion that no, living in Armenia is not sustainable.
And that’s what’s gotten me depressed over the past few days.
Conversations with friends and acquaintances have also made me realize that I’m not alone. Perhaps it’s the changing of the seasons, the first signs of winter in the air that’s getting us down. But I think it has to do with more than that.
For instance, a good friend of mine Artur recently published a post on his personal blog that resounded with me: he, a young man in his thirties, married with 2 kids, is finding it more and more difficult to justify staying in Armenia. He works hard (he knows he does — and I know he does too!), he has a fairly good job working in media and he’s quite active online and in the journalistic community. He has offered and attended many trainings and continues to improve his skills/trade/craft by being involved in new projects and continuing his education (in a broad sense).
He is a professional in his field.
And yet he sees no hope in this country. Or, more specifically, he sees no future for his children. To be honest, Artur blogs a lot about local politics and events and, working in news media myself, I too follow the numerous opposition rallies, the struggles for freedom of the press, Armenia’s relationships with its neighbors, the Azerbaijani film festival in Yerevan that seems as if it might never happen, the latest racist remark that either Sargsyan or Ter-Petrossian and his supporters made. I too see no true alternative voice in politics, which really only adds to the bleak picture.
Because as much as I am frustrated at how much importance Armenian citizens put on good government, I understand the need to have good, honest, educated people running the country.
In an earlier post, I had been critical of this and said it was a “leftover Soviet mentality,” and I still think that’s partly true. I argued that revolution never came from top-down: one only needs to examine countless other countries’ histories to know that revolution comes from the people. But I also understand what change — much needed change — could come from having good government in Armenia. And until one sees even a glimmer of hope in this issue, the situation in the country paints quite a depressing picture indeed.
But back to my original point: sustainability. I still don’t see it and even if an ideal government were to be established in Armenia tomorrow, I think that it would take a long time for the country to stand up on its feet and for its citizens to be truly independent.
If only because I like to end on a positive note (!), if there’s any “glimmer of hope” that I see in this country it’s the people. I have met such talented, amazing people while living here that if it were not for them, a lot of the change (even if it’s a drop in the ocean) wouldn’t be happening and the hope that some of us keep would be non-existent. People like Artur, and the countless others whose presence does give me the hope that maybe, just maybe, change will come sooner rather than later.
P.S. I would just like to add shout-outs to fellow blogger Lori, who I met for the first time yesterday, and Kirstin, working in Armenia on contract, who I also met yesterday. Learning that there are people who I don’t know who follow my blog, and knowing what I throw into cyberspace is actually received by someone somewhere, really made my day. Thanks, guys ;)