Sunday, 3 June 2012

Vahan Bournazian: Sex, Choice, Fascism and the Nation (MUST READ!!)


*via The Armenian Reporter

Vahan Bournazian

Vahan Bournazian is associate professor at the American University of Armenia (AUA) in Yerevan and has been living in Armenia since 2004.
Police are containing anti-gay demonstrators harassing a "diversity march" in Yerevan; signs being held up say "Keep children away" and "They are gay." Photolure

Sex, choice, fascism and the nation

Jun 01, 2012: Following the May 8 arson at a gay friendly club in Yerevan and subsequent pro-diversity march accompanied by an anti-gay demonstration on May 21, human rights lawyer Vahan Bournazian writes about sexuality, the importance of personal liberty and dangers of fascism.  more...

*via Hetq Online
[Armenian version: Սեռ, ընտրություն, ֆաշիզմ և ազգ]
31 May 2012

Sex, Choice, Fascism and the Nation

By Vahan Bournazian*

Who chose that you would be male or female?  When did you choose to be heterosexual?  Our nature is not our choice. 

In 1999 I could have married.  I knew an intelligent, kind and wonderful friend who I think would have said yes.  But I didn’t ask, because it would have been a lie.  How could I lie to my friend?  

To live an honest life we must be brave enough to recognize our own true nature.  And the bravest of all live openly.

To be gay is not a choice.  Who would choose to be hated?  And what society, culture, church or institution would choose that we lie and deceive each other by means of false relations?  Neither sex nor sexual orientation is a choice. 

Also, sexual orientation is not the same as sex.  Sexual orientation is a spectrum, and individuals exist all along the line between the two points.  There are many medieval notions of the world that we now reject, and science has shown that the earth is a sphere and that individuals in over 240 species in nature engage in homosexual behavior. 

This is because sex is not about reproduction alone.  Married couples do not engage in sex for the goal of reproduction.  No one engages in sex with the sole intent to reproduce.  If reproduction were the goal of sex, then all methods of contraception would be banned, both legally and morally, for contraception prevents reproduction. 

Sex is about transcendence.  Our individuality isolates us; each of us is like a caterpillar trapped in the cocoon which is our body.  We seek to transcend our isolation, break our loneliness, by bonding with another, both spiritually and physically.  We achieve communion with another only to varying degrees, and sometimes we call it love.  But true transcendence, true love, is rare; and if it ever happens to you, embrace as a gift from God. 

How often in your life have you been denied the right to choose?  Maybe your parents decided where and what you should study.  Maybe your family decided with whom you would socialize, and with whom you should not.  Maybe you could not practice your profession because the job was given to someone less capable but with greater influence.  Maybe you were even told who to marry.  But no one can ever dictate whom you love. 

How do you feel when you have no choice in your life?  How do you feel when others dictate decisions for you?  What would it be like for society to demand that you be the opposite of who you are?  

Fascism abhors choice, because Fascism rejects individuality.  Fascism values the nation, but to an extreme that negates the value of the individual.  Fascism does not value individuals, neither me nor you. 

Fascism is totalitarian:  the organization of all aspects of society into one hierarchical structure whereby decisions are made from above and you are to obey.  It is the militarization of all aspects of life and the only question is to find your place in the hierarchy:  whose head will you stand on and who will stand on your head? There may be good reason for an army to be organized as a hierarchy that cannot be questioned.  But no one wants to live his/her entire life under orders as a soldier.  Also, Fascism must be enforced by violence and hatred because the devaluing of the individual to such an extreme is unappealing to everyone once it is realized. 

Fascism is detrimental to the Armenian nation because, by denying choice, by rejecting individuality, Fascism does not allow individuals to develop to their full potential.  Armenia has few natural resources.  Our only real asset is our people.   Armenia needs each individual to discover and cultivate their natural gifts.  The student who chose her field of study is more likely to pursue her studies wholeheartedly.  The employee who chose work that she enjoys will do a better job.  The couple who marry for love will create an honest and loving environment for children.  By employing the power of choice individuals excel in what they choose to do. 

What is good for the individual is good for the nation.  The university faculty filled with students who chose that field of study will be a better faculty.  Students must want to learn.  Professors cannot force students to learn:  a call to duty and threats of reprisals achieve little.  A student interested in her field of study will learn much more, and a faculty filled with students who want to learn will achieve more collectively, as a community, than a faculty filled with disinterested students.  Likewise, a company or a ministry filled with capable people who chose their profession will work better and achieve more than a company or ministry filed with people who just want a job and know someone to place them there.  A call to duty means little to a disinterested person or one incapable of doing the job.  The power of choice provides for the development of the individual, and likewise the development of the nation. 

And what of families?  Families are for children and each child deserves a loving, harmonious family.  Everyone loves their children, but logic dictates that parents who chose each other freely, based on love, are more able to create an honest, loving environment for children.  I cannot change my nature.  Should society use violence and shame to force me into a heterosexual relationship?  Duty and obligation cannot be a substitute for the transcendence of the soul.  Lonely and unfulfilled, constantly wondering about the growing void in my life, I would not be capable of making anyone else happy, least of all my family.  Duty and obligation are poor substitutes for choice.  

And for a society to demand that an individual reject transcendence, reject a chance for true love, and instead engage in a deceit, in a lie, which is against the individual’s own true nature, is for the society to act against God.  My sex and my sexual orientation are not a choice; should I ever find love, it will be based on my true sexual orientation and it will be a gift from God. 

We are a small nation in a small country.  We have to find a way to respect each other and make space for each other.  Those who call for violence and hatred against fellow Armenians who happen to be different, dehumanize their own brethren and display the same intolerance that was the foundation of the Genocide.  To drive out from Armenia Armenians who are different in this way or in that, will be to do the work of our enemies for them.  The true nationalist respects individuality, truth and choice because these values grow a better nation.

*Associate Professor of Law at AUA.  All opinions and perspectives are his own.

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