Will there ever be justice for genocide? | What can the Armenian genocide teach us about human nature?

A Matter of National Trust?

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Less than two years after he was appointed head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis made news by acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide (2015). Armenians and their supporters welcomed the statement, but it angered Turkish leaders who reject using the label “genocide” to describe the murders of nearly two million Armenians from April 1915 until the end of World War I.

“‘In the past century, our human family has lived through three massive and unprecedented tragedies,’ the Pope said at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian massacres,” according to CNN’s April 13, 2015 report. The Pope specifically used the word “genocide” to describe the Ottoman Empire’s violent pogroms against Armenians living in Turkey.

Shortly after Francis’ comments made the news, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican to protest the Pope’s “one sided evaluation.” Undoubtedly, many will come forward and argue, in defense of or against, Turkey’s position, and Francis’ as well—as has been done for so many issues in human history.

Recognition of this tragic episode is nearly universal among historians, scholars, and governments the world over, who acknowledge and deplore the tragic events leading to the persecutions that left millions dead and countless others driven into exile. Turkey’s government, however, has consistently refused to acknowledge these events as genocide despite both internal and external pressure.

This defiant attitude has hurt Turkey’s international reputation; some even consider it a factor in reducing the nation’s hopes of joining the European Union—a body that requires its member-nations to uphold human rights and acknowledge past crimes and failures honestly, openly, and transparently.

This treatment of the tragic mass murder of the Armenians is but one example of that lack of transparency. In war, commerce, politics, and just about every other human interaction, something as simple as an apology—or even an acknowledgment of past misdeeds by those who sincerely want to avoid repeating the same mistakes—is often seen as a sign of weakness. Human nature seems to resist any display of weakness or humility—a trait that becomes compounded and intensified when it occurs on a national or international scale as governments struggle between maintaining their image and maintaining the moral “high ground.”

All too often, the desire to preserve an appearance of strength, solidarity, or nationalistic pride leads to greater defiance and belligerence rather than change and repentance. Rather than prevent further tragedy, this approach only increases the likelihood of future atrocities and is the reason why difficulties and controversies are so easily started and so hard to bring an end to.

So, what about us? When we are wrong and are put on the defensive, will we submit and apologize—or will we fight? Individuals and nations often face this dilemma. Sadly enough, we quite often choose to fight, even when most of what we fight over is not good (James 4:1). Are wars and struggles really better alternatives than the cooperative principles taught by Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:38–40)?

Happily, the Bible promises a time when the world will be taught a better way by trustworthy spiritual teachers and leaders, free of guile and intrigue (Isaiah 30:19–21; Revelation 1:6; 5:9–11). It will be a time for the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and many other injustices to finally be resolved and truly become things of the past. If you believe this is possible, then it may be time to learn how you can become part of that solution.

Order the free booklets The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like? and Fourteen Signs Announcing Christ’s Return. In the meantime, be sure to check out other eye-opening materials like “Why Will Christ Return?” and "The Truth About Anti-Semitism."

  Originally Published: 23rd April 2015