Perhaps we are angry because we tend to read too
much between the lines
November 11, 2004
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
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
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
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.
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani is a freelance writer,
poet and artist. She lives in San Diego, California.