Archive for February 2015

Not for the Assyrians Mr. Walsch

17887_10153041339715851_6624592021715608757_nBy Abbey Mikha

Today my favorite author Neale Donald Walsch, who wrote “Conversations with God” posted a thought-provoking message on his Facebook page. He said, “Nothing is as bad as it seems. Nothing. There is a benefit and a blessing hidden in the folds of every experience and every outcome. That includes every and any ‘bad’ thing that may be happening to you right now. Change your perspective. Know that nothing happens ever that is not for your highest good.  All that needs to change for you to see this…is your definition of ‘Highest Good.’” I know that Mr. Walsch’s message was intended to be positive but it made me teary and questioning “logic”.  As Assyrians today his thoughts are not our reality. This is the reality of elite human beings who have countries, rights, and are allowed to dream. The Assyrians are not being afforded any privileges in their ancestral homeland. To say the least the Assyrians are being treated inhumanely in Syria today.  Assyrian teenagers protecting their families are dying in combat in Khabour at the hands of ISIS.

So, I had to respond to Mr. Walsch and let him know about our desperate situation. I said, “I believe this to be true but not for everyone Neale. My people (The Assyrians) are today facing Genocide at the hands of ISIS in Khabour, Syria. Thousands have escaped from their homes, hundreds have been kidnapped (children, women, and men) and we are afraid that we will hear of brutal murder like was done to the 21 Coptic Christian men a few weeks ago. My highest good Neale? We are commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 at the hands of Kurds and Turks. Today it’s ISIS! The people who are under attack in Syria today are the grandchildren of those Assyrians who escaped the Semele Massacre of 1933 which was committed by the Iraqi army of those days. Please, for those of you fair minded spiritual people. Make your voices heard about this new Genocide which started in Mosul (Nineveh) Iraq a few months ago and now has moved to Khabour, Syria. They want to wipe out the Assyrians! Our little Christian nation needs good people like all of you to stand up and express your disgust and outrage at what is happening, for you stand for humanitarianism and for everything that is good in this survival of the fittest world…”

There are hundreds of thousands of people who read on this page on Facebook, so I hope my emotional appeal will work and many people from various cultures will raise their voices on behalf of the Assyrian people. I also post similar messages on the White House website on Facebook. I feel really helpless and sad about our people’s situation and I don’t know what to do. My only power is in writing how I feel about the situation, but is that enough? The answer of course is that no it’s not enough. Nothing we can do is enough and we must always do more! We must band together to stop this Genocide from going further!

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The Last Thing They Have Is Their Souls

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By Abbey Mikha

My family watches Windsor and Detroit news everyday.  I wonder did you watch the news tonight wherever you are?  I’m so disgusted at the mainstream media in the USA and Canada! Not even one word mentioned in the news about the Assyrians in Khabour, Syria who have been under ISIS attack all day.  ISIS is trying to expel the innocent people from their houses (like they did in Mosul), burning their churches, killing innocent people, and taking them captive. It has been estimated that there are about 200 Assyrians who have been taken captive by ISIS in Khabour, Syria in the past few days.

It is a fact that ISIS has a plan for the region, they want to take over and build a extremist Islamic region/country.  Think about it though, even the USA and Canada who supposedly have not been involved in plans with ISIS to destroy the Assyrians in Syria are also responsible.

My dad used to always say, ” Not having a plan is having a plan!”  And in regards to any subject including indigenous people. What is happening to the Assyrians of the Middle East is a well orchestrated international plan whether intently or not intently.  It is happening and no one is stopping the plan therefore there are groups, people, and nations that are to blame, who have many hidden agendas in regards to the Christian Assyrians!  Where is the United Nations today?  Was not the UN created to protect and intercede on behalf of the innocent?

If you are a world power act that way. Protect the weak and don’t betray innocent blood!!!!!  The Assyrians have nothing.  What is it that the world wants from the Assyrians?  The last thing they have is their souls.  So is this what the world wants?  Does the world want to wipe out the Assyrians?  Please send me a message and explain the situation to me in your words to make me understand…because I really do not understand why this is happening to my nation!

Please spread the message about this horrible situation.  Take ten minutes of your time and email and call someone influential who can do something to help the Assyrians in Syria.  Today I saw pictures on Facebook of Assyrian teenagers that are giving their life in order to protect their families in Khabour, Syria…We must have hearts like theirs and do everything in our power to help.

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How can the stories of a Pizza delivery driver and a factory worker inspire Assyrians to do more?

By: Ashur Sada

James Robertson is a factory worker in Troy, Michigan.

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Jarrid Tansey is a pizza delivery driver in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.

For those of you who haven’t heard of them-assuming the majority of you-and what is common between the two, let me give a brief background.

Both of these two men were the subjects of online fund raisers by complete strangers. For the former, his story was very inspiring and got a student to start an online fund to collect money to pay for a car, so he doesn’t have to walk some 20+ miles to get to and from work. For the latter, he was the subject of what amounted to being bullied on the job by a customer, and this in turn received some strong reactions from the online public and lots of sympathies and donations.

In both cases, the original goal for the fund was not only reached but completely shattered. For Mr. Robertson, the original goal was $5,000 which was broken in a matter of hours. It was then raised to $25,000, which was also reached in less than 24 hours. By the 11th day, an astonishing $350K was raised for him! Mr. Tansey may not have been as lucky, but he too got close to $30,000 in donations from complete strangers online.

 

Online funding for Assyrian causes

So what, if anything, can these two stories teach us as Assyrians? they are great examples of what online funding can do for people and causes. What if we attempted the same thing with Assyrians? say we launched an online funding campaign to do one of the following:

-Help an Assyrian family in need
-Donate to arm an Assyrian defense force in Iraq or Syria
-Give money to help build an Assyrian church in a certain city
-Donate to help build an Assyrian library
-Give money to help Assyrian students make a trip of a lifetime to their homeland

One such online fund-raiser was already done. It was a fund-raiser for Assyrian activist Suzy Younan to help her travel to Iraq to provide humanitarian relief for Assyrians displaced from the Nineveh Plain by the recent ISIS onslaught. So what were the results? While encouraging, you would think such a noble cause would have generated a lot more money or at least met the goal of $25,000. The end result was $13,290! That is $11,710 short of the goal set. But Suzy and her travel companions made the best of these donations and helped as many people as they can.

But it is so much more than just the money. It is about sending a message of support, unity and sympathy. If so much money can be raised for two individuals, by complete strangers, why can’t we raise a lot more money for more urgent needs and much nobler causes? If the plight of Assyrians living in tens, in extreme weather conditions doesn’t get us to open our wallets, what will?

In the past, we have come across so many different Assyrian fund-raisers and for different causes and rarely did I see one that matched or exceeded its goal, no matter what the objective was.  Whether it is a trust issue or one of laziness and lacking of generosity, we just don’t do enough to help those in need.

Assyrian Aid Society and ACERO are the two most established and credible Assyrian charities out there. I trust them with my life, never mind my money.  The two have achieved some success in convincing Assyrians to open their wallets to those in needs. They have done a great job of matching donors’ money with those who need it the most. But even they (ACERO and AAS) can do a lot better, if more people become more generous and comfortable with donating their money, especially online.

Despite all of this, the responsibility actually starts with the fund-raiser organizers first, rather than the donors. If the organizers (i.e those who run AAS, ACERO etc.) do a good job of explaining where the money is going, publishing regular reports, posting their accounting online, people will be a lot more trusting and give more of their money. If you go to the two organizations’ respective websites, you will find that both do an excellent job of being accountable with the money they collect from donors. Moreover, their own directors and founders are often on the ground, helping with the relief effort themselves.

Unlike other ethnic groups who may have richer groups and nations behind them, Assyrians only have themselves to support their own. The responsibility and stakes are higher. We simply can’t run away from it and hope that someone else will donate. The ‘by-stander effect’ doesn’t apply here! Each has to do their work. When you go to church on Sunday morning, you don’t tell yourself “I won’t put anything in the basket today, other people are doing that already.”  Why would you treat Assyrian charity any differently? You can donate once or you set a reminder in your calendar to donate multiple times a year. For example, if you believe in ACERO and AAS, you can set a reminder in your smartphone to donate to each one every other month. For example, on January, you donate to AAS, on February you donate to ACERO and so on. If each or most of us did this, the two organizations would have more than enough money to help almost every Assyrian in need.

And when all else fails, put yourself in someone else’s shoes: image you are one of thousands of people who used to live in Mosul or the Nineveh Plain, and were driven out from there by ISIS and have lost your home and all that you built in your lifetime. You are now living in dirty tents under such extreme wintery conditions. Your kids don’t even have a proper blanket to cover themselves, let alone a proper bed to sleep in or a good meal to enjoy. Would you not want people to donate and help you get out of this misery? I am sure you would! Count your lucky stars. You are not living this miserable life. You are sitting comfortably in your home and your kids are well-fed and taken care of. The least you can do is to help these needy Assyrians by making a donation.

Next time you come across an Assyrian fund for a noble cause, don’t hesitate to reach for your wallet or credit card and donate. It will help someone who is in extreme hardship. People did it a pizza delivery driver and a factory worker, whose condition was not nearly as bad as what our Assyrian people are enduring.

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Human?

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 By Abbey Mikha

We are all “human” beings of one human race right? That is what I always tell myself as well. Lately though seeing how people of some cultures are treating true human beings of the Assyrian culture and the various Christian faiths from Iraq, Syria and Egypt (the Coptic workers who were recently slaughtered in Libya) I cannot but help to ask myself, “What does it really mean to be human and why do some individuals have so much hatred in their heart?”

In my first year of university I told a Philosophy professor that what it means to be human is vague. He disagreed with me. I explained to him that people have various levels of spirituality and morality and for that reason just saying, “I am human” is vague, mysterious, and elusive! He never believed my reasoning and I did not get the point on my exam.

Nowadays terrorists are killing innocent people who have done nothing wrong to them. For example the Coptic men who were recently killed in Libya did nothing wrong to these criminals. The Coptic people are known to be a deeply religious and peaceful people. The children of Assyria have also done nothing wrong to these delinquents and they are at war with us in Iraq. So are these terrorists human? Yes, I guess they are according to some. If it was up to me I wouldn’t call them human, but I guess they are humans who are at a very very low spiritual and moral levels. I wonder what my professor would say today. Is human vague or not considering everything that is going on the world now? Are these people who slaughter children, women, and men human? Are they reasonable and normal? If they are human certainly they are ill, very ill.

Anyway, I pray for peace. I pray that people of various cultures, religions, and skin colors will find a way to harmoniously coexist upon the Earth. It is time for the world to become one, but right now people and nations are extremely divided. Humanitarianism needs to spread across the world and humans should grow in spirituality and morality in order to truly deserve the tittle “Human”. Jesus Christ always says it best, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

In these difficult days for the human race while I am thinking about what it means to be human I cannot but help to think of a great man like Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” I believe in unconditional love as well, but I’m not sure what will happen between now and the “final word”.

God help the good people of the world and may those whose hearts are filled with evil and darkness be defeated by the children of light in order for there to be a new world and a new earth and a new Human.

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Digitizing Iraq’s books and documents is the only way to avoid the loss of history

By: Ashur Sada

Over the weekend, I came across an article about ISIS (aka ISL) taking over the Library of Mosul where

Digitizing books in Iraq would give them a safe future

Digitizing books in Iraq would give them a safe future

they confiscated close to 2000 books-leaving behind only Islamic books-and taking them away. What happened next is very disturbing but not shocking at all: ISIS set the books on fire, destroying them all in the process.

Sounds familiar? yes it does, it is similar to what the Mongols did in Baghdad in 1258 when they threw thousands of historical books, documents and records-many of which were Assyrian by authorship and origin-into the river, purportedly turning the river black from all the spilled ink.

But it is not just the Mongols and ISIS. Iraq has always been an interesting place: lots of history but at the same time rarely ever stable enough to sustain this rich history. From ancient times and until now, it has never been stable enough for more than a few years or decades at a time and that has meant that its historical treasures-especially books and artifacts-have always been the subject of looting, burning and total destruction. Iraq may have an vast collection of historical and ancient books and artifact today but it should have been double this had it not been for all the wars and destruction that this land has seen over the ages.

While artifacts and other physical objects can’t be easily digitized, other than simply taking pictures of them, books can have a better fate and be protected from destruction. Thanks to the internet and other new technologies that didn’t exist even a few decades ago, Iraq can and should start to digitize as many of its ancient books and archive records as possible. Google Books for example is already the largest digital depositary of books in the world. Using new scanning technology that Google pioneered, you can now find English-other languages are slowly being added too-books that go as far back as 500 years ago, which is shortly after the printing press was invented. This ensures that these priceless documents and books are preserved virtually forever, eliminating the possibility of a future destruction through fire or intentional sabotage which unfortunately is an inevitable possibility in a place like Iraq and the Middle East in general.

Imagine for a second if Google Books or other similar technologies existed some 1000 years ago. It would completely change our world today. It would mean that the books were preserved already, even if the Moguls tried to destroy them when they invaded Baghdad. From a historical point of view, this would be a complete paradigm shift from what we have today. It would mean having access to material that we can’t even dream of today. For example, from an Assyrian prospective, it would shed new light on what happened to Assyrians after the fall of their empire and how they evolved to become Christians and continue their legacy. While we do have some information on what happened to Assyrians after the fall of their empire, a lot has been lost in the centuries following the fall of their empire. The ruthless moguls ensured that most of what was left, would be lost forever in the Tigris river in Baghdad.  From a Christian prospective, we would likely have a lot more literature and volume on how Christianity came to Iraq and neighboring regions etc.

Google, in fact, has already taken steps to digitize physical objects from the past.  Using Google Maps technology, they have already digitized the ‘National Museum of Iraq‘ , allowing you to take a virtual tour inside. Not a substitute for the real thing of course, but at least we have a copy in case the real thing is lost as a result of fire, looting or direct sabotage by terrorists, looters etc.

Digitization, of course, has its limitation. For one, it may preserve the text of the book and even the way its cover and its pages look, but it is not a substitute for the real book and the way it feels when you touch it. But at the end of the day, it is better to at least preserve the content of these books than not to have anything left at all. In other words, when we can’t preserve both the substance and the form, let us at least save the former. After all, the ideas we inherit from these books are what matters the most. The preservation of the book itself, the cover, the pages, while of paramount importance, comes only second to preserving the actual idea, facts and information that these books and records try to convey to their readers.

 

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