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Peace
Perhaps we are angry because we tend to read too much between the lines

November 11, 2004
iranian.com

When my children were small, any time they fought over a toy, I told them that were how all wars started and how they'd have to find a way to establish peace. They grew up knowing that world peace begins at home. How I wish the extended Iranian family could also believe that.

Not too long ago, someone wrote an article in Iranian.com with questionable remarks toward Zoroastrians ["Bad thoughts, bad words, bad deeds"]. So far, I had only heard good things about this religion. In fact, I had heard enough praise to let my expectation rise to an unrealistic level. When I met Zoroastrians who proved to have as many human flaws as any other, I was disappointed.

After reading the overwhelming article by Persia Lover who sounded as if he knew books and documents to back up his words -- which I knew nothing about--I wrote the author and thanked him for the information he had provided and voiced out some doubts of my own as to the perfect image of the people. He wrote back and said he's been getting a lot of negative mail and asked if I would please send my letter to the Iranian. Why not? If it was going to help someone, I would do it. Heaven only knows how much anger is out there because the letters have been coming ever since.

I began to wonder why we're so angry and found more reasons than I thought possible. It seems as if any article, comment, or letter that does not meet readers' approval is like the explosive that breaks a dam. The flood of rage that follows is fascinating.The Islamic revolution seems to have opened many old wounds. There isn't a day when someone doesn't send me a joke to ridicule Islam. All the previous "minorities" now get a chance to slap a Muslim cheek for a change and get even. Why blame me? I wasn't there when it happened. I'm not even a practicing Muslim!

One would imagine that of all the people, they would understand how it feels to be innocent yet assumed evil. They never stop to think how it feels to lose your friends overnight. We're all too busy with our newfound anger to see that in the end, we hurt only ourselves.

We're angry because fourteen centuries ago we lost half of our identity to the Arab invasion. But, what about Alexander the not-so-great? How it is that Iranians do not hate the Greek the way they despise Arabs? Aha! He didn't hang around. He didn't make us study Greek. He didn't change our alphabet, our language, or our appearance. He did not force us to become Christians, and he didn't change our culture. But do we know why? It wasn't because he valued our identity. No, he simply didn't consider us his equal! If you don't believe me, go to Athens and see the sound and light show at the Parthenon to hear them talk of when "the barbaric" came. That's us, people! The great Persians who to this day love them enough to name our sons "Eskandar!" Could it be that we forgave him because back then we weren't angry enough to hold a grudge?

We're angry because, in a twisted way, we were kicked out of our homes. Those who stayed behind endured immeasurable anguish. They still do. And those who left had to build a whole new life. We're angry because we had to put our hard earned degrees, jobs and status aside and start at the bottom of the ladder. We had to adapt to being a minority, learn how to be second grade citizens, keep a low profile and endure prejudice and humiliation. The great Persians once again needed to tolerate being called barbaric.

Then again, perhaps we are angry because we tend to read too much between the lines. One of the letters I received claimed that the article was printed because Iranian.com is a Bahaii institution. Now, being a nonbeliever and not a member of any organized religion, I was as surprised as anyone could be. I wrote back to reassure the reader that, as one of its featured writers, I had no Bahaii inclination that I knew of. That I live in my little cyber-cave with very little outside contact. In fact, there is no group, organization, or religion that I could claim as my own. If the Iranian.com is part of a plan, well, it seems like we've all just been sucked in!

I'm convinced that the conspiracy theory and even the strong belief that the British are behind everything is part of the Iranian genetic compound. When it concerns us, nothing just happens. It's all part of a master plan. Someone's out there to get us. Well, a lot of times someone IS and that may be why we're unable to see anything at face value.

When an article sounds different from what we believe, it has to be part of a plan to undermine us all. If tomorrow I should write about the good qualities of the Jewish Iranians, I become an agent of Israel and if I criticize them I'm anti Semitic. If I support Christians I'll be called a pro-Bush. If I say Muslims are good, I'm responsible for the Islamic revolution and if I say they're bad I'm an agent of the US. And, God help me if I dare say the Bahaiis are good people. Having so many friends of all backgrounds, it's a miracle I'm still alive.

True that sometimes a writer may attempt to use his pen to advance an idea, raise emotions or to influence others--God only knows we saw enough of that during the last election. Indeed in such cases "Pen is mightier than a sword." But that doesn't mean every article is secretly intended to destroy someone and not all words carry venom. Can't people simply talk, communicate, and exchange ideas? That's why we turn to publications such as Iranian.com. It's a lonely life out there and we need a means to reach out to those who understand and seek guidance from those who have more knowledge.

As a people who are scattered around the world, people who put human bond above anything else, we should be able to show more understanding and be more tolerant of each other. The very best letter I received came from Dr. Jahanian, the head of the Zoroastrian Society. He understood that I needed answers. He sent me references. I wrote back and thanked him for his guidance. His was the only letter worth saving. I have kept a copy as a lesson. That copy will always remind me that regardless of status, one needs to be tolerant and for that lesson I shall remain in his debt.

Next time someone's words make you angry, try to remember, the world peace can only begin with you. All you need is a little tolerance. Not enough? Funny. That's exactly what the raindrop said when the oceans formed.

Author
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a freelance writer, poet and artist. She lives in San Diego, California.

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