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Monte Melkonian: "Our life will be one big, difficult, wonderful whole"

Armenia and Artsakh National Hero Monte Melkonian was born on November 25, 1957.

By Seta Kabranian-Melkonian

I often wonder what Monte Melkonian would have thought witnessing the drastic environmental and political changes taking place on our planet these days. Multiple riots and disasters in every continent.

When he was not on the battlefield, Monte listened to the news every day. Most of the time, he woke up before me. I opened my eyes to his cheery “Good morning.”  Lying beside me, he reached the nightstand then leaned to the pillow. A small, black Sony radio swung in his hands as he pulled the antenna out and turned the side knob slowly to find the BBC World News on the short wave. Weewaaawoooo and broken words thrown in the air like confetti frustrated us until we heard the reporter’s voice behind a dominant buzz. Monte listened intently as if every word was of high importance. That little radio accompanied him everywhere, including to the war zones. It is now in my archive box, the tape on the broken antenna like the wound of a soldier. It is strange to remember that Monte lived a life without computers, and without the flood of emotional reactions. Yet he was so clear in his stand.

On 19.11.88, he wrote from prison, “Another subject comes to mind: that of emotions and serious work. You know I am truly very full of emotions—love for you, our people, our homeland, our family, for all mankind, for nature, for knowledge; and hatred for the enemies of all the above. Believe me, my emotions are very intense. But at the same time, I realize that to do anything constructive and good I must controlmy emotions. This is not at all easy, and I don't always succeed...However, as far as possible, I do try to control things since I know it is absolutely necessary in any serious work. Sometimes it’s like torture, but we have to do it anyway. I have seen Armenians (and non-Armenians) blinded by emotions, which has led them into irrational actions. We must learn to be intelligent, thoughtful, logical human beings. We must learn to control our emotions and when possible, find ways to use these emotions to reinforce our work, instead of misguiding or confusing us. We must do this because we must take ourselvesseriously. Seta, you and I have an enormous amount to give to each other. We also have a lot to give to our people (perhaps even to other peoples) ...Our life will be one big, difficult, wonderful whole. We must  create.”

Armenia is not spared from new challenges and confusion. It opened its doors to the outside world, yet many pick and choose between international trends. Furthermore, there are tendencies to return to pre-Soviet and even ancient times, where preaching nationalism and intolerance were common. On 18.11.88 Monte wrote to me, “...an enormous number of people do very bad things— things that are against our people's true interest— without even knowing it. Many of them are even convinced they're doing something good and necessary. ... Without political clear-mindedness the people with the best intentions can do a lot of harm.”

Equal rights and respect for one another were extremely important for Monte in all situations, starting from his own home. On 24.11.88 he wrote to me, “Everyone should look at us as equals. You are my equal, you are an alert adult who is capable of understanding situations and solving them. Sometimes I get the impression certain people think that they should address all problems to me. I am always ready and willing to intervene on every little (or big) problem that concerns you. Indeed, as your husband I must help as much as possible. However, people should also recognize your capabilities; they should value you as the intelligent, mature person you are. Perhaps they already do, and I’ve just got the wrong impression due to my lack of information and due to my sensitivity in everything that concerns you.”

Monte stayed loyal to his principles and practiced them in everyday life. He would be proud to be part of a nation, where all beings– human, animal or natural worlds– are respected and given equal rights to lead a normal life. He would want a country where the youth is not exploited in unworthy movements, which rather than a step forward, take our beautiful land several steps back. He would want a country where dignity is not sacrificed for monetary and political gain.

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