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Ideas

Let there be light
Respecting other people's rights and distinct values, or the ideology of enlightenment

 

September 20, 2006
iranian.com

Many peoples all around the world are, and have been, living tragedies. Emancipated and free peoples make up a very small number compared to those who live sorrowful lives. One of the peoples who live tragic lives, is the Iranian people. It's no surprise for the Iranians as they have been doing this for all their history.

Iranians have recently, ie in their modern history, been taught to be proud of a very distant past when they had supposedly been living much more dignified lives. That is just a manipulative sham as Iranians, as a people, have never been either free or truly proud or dignified. They have only been bigger or smaller tyrants with sometimes more and sometimes less success in their ambitious conquests.

That's got little to do with the state of Iranians as a whole. Average Iranians have often been enslaved by various individuals for their own personal purposes, and nothing more, and this enslavement sometimes led t magnificent victories for Iranian rulers. So what? What did the Iranian people gain from that? There hasn't been anything concrete ever, and no proof of such a thing. But losses? Plenty, and there is no better evidence than just looking at what is going on in Iran, and with the Iranians in general.

These are subjects that have very often been discussed and analysed. My pondering has been about the logic, or reasons, behind this tragedy for the Iranians for such a long time. Why haven't Iranians ever got a dignified community in which there would be respect for the individual rights and freedoms. Let me give a few examples that probably deserve a little bit of thought. A bunch of Arabs came to Iran, conquered the land, and forced the Iranians to convert to Islam. So they did.

Later on a Turkic Sufi warlord, Ismail Safavi, gathered a bunch of followers, took over what had remained of the historic Iran and forced them to convert to Shiism. So they did. Later a Mazandarani army officer, Reza Khan, decided to force his rule over Iran, declaring the previous Dynasty over and starting a new one, the so-called Pahlavi dynasty (rich imagination) and declare Iran the land of Aryans (being inspired by the latest fashion in northern Europe regarding the superior race). And\ Iranians, as always, by their tacit acceptance went along. The most recent idea has been put in place by Khomeini, to have the Shia Iran back, this time changing the title from king to Rahbar. And Iranians, as usual, went along.

All this is not to exaggerate the vulnerability of Iranians for new ideas and new faces. This is a common characteristic for most other peoples as well. So there is little to be ashamed of. It's the fact anyway.

There has been one seriously distinct people who have not been so eager to new ideas and new faces. We can compare the Iranians to them, the Jews. Who has suffered more? Definitely the Jews. Who suffers more now? Well, that's up to debate. Jews have been, arguably, the single most resilient people to have stubbornly shrugged off new ideas and faces. The result has been continuous attempts to annihilate them. Why all these attempts have failed?

The easy answer, convenient to the Jews, would be to say that God has saved his chosen people from annihilation. And the true, fact-based, reason behind their survival is that Jews have been so widely spread all over the Christian and Muslim world that no single ruler has ever been able to conquer all those lands to be able to wipe them out. Iranians haven't converted to Judaism, because no tough guy ever asked them to do so. They would probably have converted to Judaism if Arabs, were Jewish and used the sword to utter their words.

So, being stubborn with your own ideas and faces, as is the case for the Jews, isn't such a great idea either. You risk losing your land, your life, or probably both. But if you're easy-going and swing wherever the toughest man in town calls to, then you're much safer, but nonetheless with an ever-lasting diminished dignity and prosperity.

Are we going to have this forever and keep on turning a blind eye to various guys, ideas, factions and groups to force their own will upon us? This seems a bit too dramatic, as me and most readers among Iranians live outside Iran, but we still have hopes for our Iranian heritage. But maybe there is a better way than either living and surviving, without dignity and prosperity (Iranian example), or facing persecution and sporadic mass murder (Jewish example).

This alternative way can be called the ideology of respecting other people's rights and distinct values, or the ideology of enlightenment. There would always be enemies of this ideology too who would be willing to do a lot to harm the believers in freedom and the enlightenment, but the advantage of believing in the freedom of man is that it's much easier both to spread and to understand than various ambiguous customs and traditions that religions or ethnicities are based upon. And it being not forced (unlike Iraq) there would also be no resentments among the adepts. And that makes up a strong following-base.

And Britain and America (especially America) have been proud examples of free countries where citizens live with dignity, hopes and prosperity in freedom, which Iranians have never had. But neither Brits nor the Americans got this without costs. They fought their inner enemies, by continuously standing up to would-be tyrants, and they successfully defended their values from outside foes too. And it has been quite costly. But definitely worth it. Living a single year in freedom and dignity is worth fighting for decades or centuries. Unfortunately Iranians haven't yet developed the right conditions (probably socially and culturally) to dare to demand to have their rights respected. Comment

 

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