By: Ashur Sada
As an Assyrian parent with kids growing up in the west-or even in the homeland-your job is a little tougher. You not only have to help your kids grow like other parents, you also have a national and patriotic duty to ensure your kids are raised like true Assyrians and don’t forget who they are. To help you with the process, here is a list of 10 things you should teach and tell your kids about, starting as early as at a toddler’s age.
1-Assyrians have an amazing history, but….
Sure, it is an disputable fact that Assyrians have an amazing history and one of the greatest empires but the present and future is what matters the most. If every new born Assyrian , of the last 100 years, focused on the future instead of the past, we would be in a much better shape and state now. Tip: help him or her use the past to inspire them for the present and future. His ancestors were great and he can be like them too.
2-Family and social values matter a lot
As an Assyrian, family and social values matter a lot. Regardless of where you are living and amongst what other cultures or religions. While this doesn’t mean you can’t adopt to other cultures, it is important to teach them that the one family unit is very crucial to the Assyrian society. We value our parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, in-laws, friends etc. In fact, family, cousins and relatives are so important to Assyrians, we have a word for each one of them (yes, there is even a word for ‘the husband of my sister in law!) Tip: teach them that family closeness and social values to Assyrians is one of those things that has helped them survive.
3- Getting an education is a matter of survival
Due to the fact that Assyrians have often been forced out of their homes and lands, getting a proper education hasn’t always been easy for our parents and grandparents. That shouldn’t be the case for your kids. Teach them the huge and vast importance of getting a proper education. Tip: make it clear to them that getting an education will not only help them have a better life, it will also help their family and nation at the end.
4-Sunday morning is reserved for church and the lord
Ok, this one may not be an easy one but that is OK, it doesn’t have to be every Sunday if you are unable to make it on a weekly basis, for whatever reason. But at the very least, they have to grow up being at church on a regular basis. This includes ‘Sunday school’ . I don’t think I need to tell you why this is important, but proper discipline, faith, community gathering, bible teaching, growing a church, are just to name a few of the reasons why your kids should grow up to be regular church attendees. Tip: you don’t have to force them. Just make the effort to go yourself and they will come. And don’t forget to teach them about Assyrian Christianity and the history and timeline of the Assyrian church (and other eastern churches) which date back to the time of Christ.
5-Assyrian is your first and native language
Not only is the Assyrian language (AKA Syriac) your first language, it is your native language and you have to be proud of it. Your kids are to learn it before they even learn to walk or put ‘1 + 1’ together. In fact, the stage from 2 to 7 years old is very critical in language learning and development. This is where your hard work should be. Tip: learning Assyrian will help them in so many aspects and actually make them look cooler and more interesting to others. After all, they are learning a language that Jesus Christ spoke.
6- Approach our enemies and foes with wisdom not anger
Assyrians have had a lot of enemies and foes in the last few hundred years. Whether it is the Kurds, Ottomans, Islamists or other groups, our enemies have done a lot of harm to us. Despite all of this, our revenge should not be through violence. Violence and armed struggles may have been the preferred method in the past but in today’s ever changing dynamics in the middle east, we should defend ourselves with more than just arms and weapons. Unity should be our first defense, followed by education and money. If we have those three elements (Unity, Education and Money) the rest will take care of itself. It is indisputable that we haven’t been very successful with these 3 in the last few decades.
7-Love all Assyrians, regardless of church , village or tribe
It can be very confusing even for the most educated Assyrians, now imagine our poor kids and what they have to go through to learn about all the different Assyrian names, identities, churches, tribes, language references, villages and so much more. You can simplify it to them and teach them that we are all one, despite all the different identity terms. If the name ‘Assyrian’ is not accepted by certain people and groups, that is fine. They are still our brothers and sisters and have to love them and be united with all of them.
8-Birthplace or ethnicity first?
Since Assyrians don’t have a country to call their own, those born in other countries (USA, Canada, Australia etc.) may struggle with the question of first loyalty: should they put their birthplace first or their ethnic identity? You can put your birthplace before your nation but don’t ever forget or deny your Assyrian identity and culture. I would rather have my kids put their birthplace before their Assyrian identity than to have them forget their Assyrian identity completely. Moreover, being born in their respective countries, they have to appreciate the land they are living in and is providing them with food, shelter, security etc. The least they can do is to give their loyalty to their country, which is better than, say, those immigrants from third world countries, who make it to North America or Europe, and and end up turning against their new country (through terrorism and other illegal activities)
9- Honour your culture!
One of the most important things you can teach them is to be part of their community. By doing this, they get more acquainted with their culture and language. They can do stuff on their own but they also have to dedicate time to be part of the community and other cultural activities. This could be in the form of a lecture, a picnic, community events etc. Doing this early on will ensure that it becomes a part of them and will do it when they are adults without you having to tell them anymore. Tip: it is important to start early!
10-Assyrianism must live on
Last but not least, Assyrianism must go on and never die. Not just in history books but as people, language, culture and maybe even a country again one day. Assyria has survived beyond the fall of the empire and despite all the threats, for thousands of years now. The least your kids can do is to to ensure the beat of this nation goes on. In fact, this is an almost sacred duty for us to carry on, thanks to the various quotes in the bible about Assyria and its future :
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day, Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19: 23-25)”
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