David Mgrublian '82 P'11 on the Center for Human Rights
Remarks made by CMC Board of Trustees Chairman David Mgrublian '82 P'11 on April 10, 2015
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
As many of you know, April 24th is a day of special significance in the Armenian community – it is the day we remember the Armenian Genocide. What you may not know is that on that day exactly 100 years ago, Ottoman authorities rounded up 250 Armenians in Istanbul who they felt posed the greatest threats to their plans to perpetrate a mass extermination.
And who were these 250 Armenians? They were Istanbul’s Armenian intellectuals and leaders in business, government, and the professions.
This a common pattern at the beginning of genocides or other mass violations of human rights. Round up the intellectuals. Round up the leaders. In short, round up the people sitting in this room.
At CMC we believe we have a responsibility to lead. We have faculty who are leaders in their intellectual disciplines. We have administrators who are leaders in their fields. We have students who lead on campus and become alumni leaders in business, government, and the professions.
Yes, it makes us a target, but more importantly it confers on us a great obligation.
Our family could think of no better way to honor that obligation and the memory of our ancestors who perished in the Armenian Genocide than by supporting CMC’s Center for Human Rights. By instilling in our students an understanding of human rights as central to moral conduct and ethical decisions in their personal lives, in their careers, and in the public arena, we are sending our students into the world to do something about it – a very CMC-like trait, as Paul Hurley reminds us.
This past Wednesday and at the invitation of the Center, eminent scholar Professor Ron Suny of the University of Michigan spoke at this same dais. One of my takeaways from his presentation was that it only takes a small number of people to perpetrate a genocide. Our family believes that the Center's work gives our students the knowledge to speak the truth on human rights and act on it, thereby not allowing incipient violations to metastasize into massacres or genocide.
Most Sundays we have family members over to the house for a midafternoon meal. Every time, my father brings reading material for me: the most recent issue of Barron’s and Freemasonry Today, and the latest from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Hillsdale College. He also includes clippings of articles…with his notes!
This past Easter Sunday Dad included a clipping of a WSJ book review of a biography on the early life of TS Eliot. Why? He remembered that I had used a quote from Eliot’s “Four Quartets” in my CMC yearbook 33 years ago! Since I couldn’t remember the quote, earlier this week I pull out that dusty yearbook and here is what I found:
"We shall not cease from our exploration
And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know that place for the first time."
So while our family may not be at the end of our exploring, with this gift to the Center we are reflecting on where we started and, just perhaps, understanding it for the first time.
Thank you, and good night.