9 Things Assyrians should do in 2019

… so lets change the way we do things?

1. Reject Sectarianism

The elephant in the room always deserves to be addressed first. There is no doubt that the positions of Chaldeanists and Arameanists are slowly getting stronger in diaspora by virtue of the fact that a unifying Assyrian movement is in a state of inertia, not because of any compelling argument to its contrary. Any power and influence they are developing is being projected back onto our people in Assyria who have repeatedly rejected sectarianism— from high-minded narrative formation present in the media to petty bribing on the ground. We can thank the respective leadership of each church for encouraging and incubating this.

We are all together in believing in division.
We will be buying our groceries from churches soon too.

2. Resist Toxic Encounters on Social Media

This section dovetails nicely from the above: its really important that Assyrians, like everyone else, put their use of social media into perspective. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are environments which are created to serve a very specific purpose: to encourage repeat usage, to sell data we provide to them for free, and to have us compete with each other and even ourselves.

3. Nurture Relationships which are Mutually Beneficial

I can’t emphasise this enough: we are all human so we are not beyond conforming to transmutable interests or hypocrisy. There is a reason why I don’t wade into political conflicts taking place around the world — firstly, why should I? And secondly, will anything I say be loaded with the thoughtfulness and seriousness it deserves? To coin one phrase, I don’t have “skin in the game” here. I’m not pro or anti any group of people by definition: individuals bond with individuals — not groups, and nevermind states.

4. Stop Begging, Look Inward.

Be wary of all gatekeepers. If someone tells you we can achieve what we want if we only asked the right people for it properly, or sent the right people, or were ambitious enough, you can rest assured that they are either doing so maliciously or they are innocently repeating the mistakes of the past century. Both at this stage in our history are unforgivable.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako with Lara Yousif flanked by peshmerga in the background.

5. Identify and Support Assyrian Initiatives

This is an exercise in practicalities: we need to be maximise our existing capacities. If you run a search on the non-profit register in the U.S. for any organisations which contain the word “Assyrian” or “Chaldean” in their name, their declared funds for the last financial year total over $60m. This is without considering new and undeclared funds, or private funds and greater untapped capacities. That is what is out there right now in terms of potential material support. How much of this are we using well, if at all? How much is available in our global diaspora in similar organisational registers?

6. Stop Saying These Phrases:

7. Develop Yourself

Working on yourself is by the far the best way to start helping our people. We want something to offer, and we cannot offer anything if we don’t achieve our own personal goals. Luckily, I don’t think we’re in any danger of having an army of miserable nationalists with no skills or talents. The problem is that we have no robust networks in place to nurture our youth whilst maintaining an Assyrian consciousness and sense of community.

8. Don’t be Afraid to Open Up

We don’t take our physical and mental health as seriously as we should do both in diaspora and in our homeland. The level of trauma we have endured collectively and often individually is so vast it often manifests in thoughts and behaviours we are not conscious of until terrible things happen. We need to take care of each other far more — and I don’t just mean seeking help from healthcare professionals, but in small ways anyone can offer. Affording each other a space to confront this trauma is one of the biggest tasks ahead of us as a people. Many people, Assyrians and non-Assyrians, underestimate how much it has influenced decision making among our people, how much it is impacting families and our futures.

9. Take Control

I will be as succinct as possible for such a mammoth task by using a single example: what if Assyrians create a website that contains the highest quality news stories, commentary pieces, interviews, food recipes and so on about our own affairs? What if we had a go-to platform which can house all of this in one place: from the most compelling argument to support the KDP to the best recipe for prakheh/dolma? What if the first thing non-Assyrians think of when trying to learn about our modern, living nation is the contents of this website? What if they can contribute to it too?


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