Symposium on Preventing Genocide
Embracing our Ancestral DNA: Transforming Generationally Transmitted Restrictions of Ethnicity, Nationality and Belief Systems to Positive Lessons and Wisdom
at the United Nations
The Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress and Genocide (AASSSG) held its annual symposium on Preventing Genocide entitled, “ Embracing our Ancestral DNA: Transforming Generationally Transmitted Restrictions of Ethnicity, Nationality and Belief Systems to Positive Lessons and Wisdom,” on Thursday 7th of April, 2011 at the United Nations, from 3 – 6 P.M.
The program began with a warm welcome from Dr. Ani Kalayjian, Chair of the symposium and President of AASSSG and the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP) of Meaningfulworld. Dr. Kalayjian introduced her new CD, “Ancestral Healing From War to Peace” and instructed everyone to close their eyes and to listen as we took an emotional journey from the Garden of Eden to the present day while processing all the past traumas. Dr. Kalayjian in her inspiring words on the CD reminded us that shared sorrow is half sorrow while shared joy is double joy; and forgiveness is not only the best revenge, it is the best practice for self-healing.
At the end of the CD meditation, Se. Kalayjian presented a photo diary of the dark side of humanity, starting with Genocide of the Armenians to today, challenges in Darfur. Then Dr. Dan Booth Cohen was invited to speak about “Healing Through Family Constellations.” He is a Psychologist that uses family constellations to heal his clients. He asserted that trauma is inherited and that the memories of our grandparents and great-grandparents are inside us. He went on to explain that when we tap into our unconscious mind and work somatically, we will experience the feelings of our ancestors. He concluded that women need to be encouraged to take an active role in the peace process because they are equal to men in their humanity, intelligence, and compassionate energy.
The next speaker Mrs. Sally Kader, Chairperson, US Federation for Middle East Peace, gave her discourse on, “The Role of Women in Healing Generational Wounds.” She related the impact of September 11th on our lives and how people need to dispel erroneous beliefs about certain religious groups. She conducts Inter Faith dialogue groups to help people learn about each other’s religion in a safe environment. She concluded that different religions share the same lessons of love, compassion and forgiveness. At the United Nations Conference for Women, where 192 countries are represented, all women have the same concerns. She informed us that United Nations Resolution1325 insists that women be a part of the building of a country and be a part of the government. In her closing remarks, Ms Kader stated that there is hope for the future.
Then, Dr. Edmund L. Gergerian, benefactor of the Krieger essay contest for high school and college students presented a summary of the contest. He explained that for the past sixteen years, AASSSG has held this contest asking students to write about “What the Legacy of Genocide Means to Me?” This award was established in honor of his late uncle, Father Krikor Guerguerian, aka Krieger. Father Guergerian survived the Genocide of Armenians and collected hundreds of documents about the Genocide.
The winners of the essay contest read their inspiring conclusions. One student reminded us that we must continue the work of AASSSG, preventing Genocide and healing the wounds of past Genocides.
Then Dr. Kalayjian introduced our final speaker and recipient of the 2011 AASSSG Outstanding Achievement Award, Donald Wilson Bush. He is President of the Woodrow Wilson Legacy Foundation, Inc. and a descendant of President Woodrow Wilson. His presentation was titled, “From School Yard to Diplomatic Mission, It Takes Leadership to Stop Bullying.” In his talk he explained how bullying is not only going on in schoolyards, but is now omnipresent in our culture of technology & leadership. Bullying can lead to Genocide with perpetrators holding dominance over another group. Mr. Bush urged everyone to say no to bullying and reclaim the space of the public square in nonviolent, and civil terms.
The program ended with a question and answer period and a demonstration by Dr. Cohen on family constellations using volunteers from the audience working on the denial of Ottoman Turkish Genocide and inviting volunteers to take on the roles of the Armenians as well as Turks. It was a transformative journey. At the end of the symposium, the students expressed their desire to become proactive in helping to promote Armenian Genocide recognition. They asked Dr. Kalayjian, “Where do we sign up to help?”
A group of over one hundred diverse people had gathered at the UN (from 14 years old to 84 years young) to witness the commitment to preventing Genocide, learning from the past, acknowledging what we have done wrong, commitment to non-violence, responsibility for self-healing, as well as healing each other.
This symposium was co-sponsored by The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the United Nations, Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention (ATOP), AASSSG, Meaningfulworld.com, The Armenian Constitutional Rights Protective Centre of Armenia, Armenian General Benevolent Union of America, Voices for Freedom, and Health, Transformation & Spirituality, a Working Group of CONGO Community on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns – NY (CSVGC) at the United Nations.
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