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Blind visionaries
From Anti-monarchists of yesterday to today's anti-Islamists



Areyo Barzan
November 29, 2006

Over the past few years I have several collisions with the anti Islamists who were writing a shear load of none sense on the net and on this site.

Most of these anti-Islamic self-declared experts do not even have a clue about what they are opposing and did not even bother to study the religion in order to find the fact for themselves, and funny enough they call the rest of us ignorant.

The odd thing is that whenever I have engaged in a debate with these people and tried to point them into the flaws in their arguments I have been accused of not accepting my personal responsibility while they on the other hand had shamelessly washed their hand of theirs and shift all the blame to a religion.

During these exchanges and debates I have been accused of several things such as being a Hezbollahy, being a spy, having ties with Islamists or IRI, being a traitor to my own religion (Zartosht) and being ignorant and not seeing the real problem.

However, the bottom line is that to me, none of these claims of vision and solutions to the problems in our times seem even remotely controversial, new or valuable as they claim to be. As the saying goes: I have been there, done that, wrote the book and made the movie.

In fact I can still vividly remember the visionaries of the past generation who were just as confident and wrong in claiming that they have found the cause and solution to all problems of their time.

Nearly three decades ago when most of today's so called "visionaries" were still in dippers or were not even born. I, and people like me were fighting the same battle with their previous generation. The only difference is that at that time the trend was to bash imperialism and today it's Islam.

I still remember the so called freedom fighters of that time who were putting all the blame squarely on the Shah's regime and most of them were going even further to blame and disgrace imperialism and the legacy of our country and its history and Persian rulers.

In those days everything was the fault of the monarchy, imperialist systems and the nature of empire, and everything related to it was evil. If somebody dared to talk about the Persian Empire or the achievements of people such as Cyrus the Great, King Dariush or any other great figures from our history, even the Shahnameh of Ferdosi, he or she would have been automatically labeled, at best, as a stupid person who denies the facts and lives in a fantasy, and at worst as an agent of SAVAK or a servant of the Shah.

Maybe the saddest part was that these people did genuinely believe that they had the answer and have found the solution to all their problems. After 27 years, I can confidently confirm the claim I made back then: these people do not have a clue about the nature of the problem, let alone having a solution for it.

Finally in February 1979 these people got their wish. They succeeded to get rid of the monarchy and the spiral of devastation started from there. You see, the problem was that these people were not only opposed to the Shah and his system but they hated everything which could be even remotely related to him. In their mind everything to do with the regime was corrupted and evil and had to be destroyed.

And so it began. The first victim of this rage was the Shir-o-Khorshid (Lion and Sun) sign, which was regarded as the symbol of oppression by evil rulers and had to be removed from our flag, government buildings, logos, passports and our life in general. Then it was the imperial calendar, which was labeled as a disgrace to God and religion and had to be scraped. Hence suddenly over night our year plunged from "Imperial 2538" down to "1357 Hejri-Shamsi", and with it we and our attitudes stepped back more than a millennium into darkness. One by one the names of our streets, towns, provinces and even in some cases natural landscapes were changed in order to wipe up all signs of our imperial past. This was all done in false hope of wiping all our flaws and mistakes of the past with it.

One year later, there was the biggest disaster of all, the so-called Cultural Revolution in our universities, schools and academic institutions. At the completion of their mission, these so-called visionaries, most of whom claimed to be intellectuals and graduates from Europe and the U.S., decided that they need to wipe all the references and memories of our imperial past from our books and minds and spare future generations of knowing about this "dark and humiliating" past. So our history was rewritten and reduced to history of revolution going back only as far as the Ghajar Dynasty.

This was in order to convince us that all our kings and rulers were incompetent traitors in the past two and half millennia and we had nothing worth remembering or be proud of.

All our traditions and national events such as Norooz, Mehregan, Jashne Sadeh, Chahar-Shanbe-Soory and Shabe Chelleh were either suppressed and devalued or completely forgotten. And the list goes on and on and on.

These so called "revolutionaries" thought such an approach would solve all their problems overnight and they would then be able to rebuild the country and its culture from the scratch. But little they knew of the disaster they were unleashing upon this land and its future generations.

The funny thing is that, at all times they though that they were our friends and were doing us a favour.

Doshmane daanaa keh ghame jaan bovad
Behtar az aan doost keh naadaan bovad

However, despite all the chopping and changing and scrapping that these people did in the name of modernisation, they did not solve even one iota of the problems that was crippling our country. For the next decades corruption was as strong as ever, social disorders on the increase, poverty on the rise, and our manufacturing, industry and economy went down the drain and I do not even need to talk about our international reputation.

Maybe the biggest and most disastrous impact of this cultural revolution was on the young people of that generation and the generations to come after them.

As a kid I can still remember the simple pictures in the second chapter of my history book in third year elementary which described the heroic stand off between Areyo Barzan, the Persian border guards commander, and Alexander's army in Dardanelle passage where the great Persian commander stood up to the strong army of Alexander and in spite of being outnumbered by 1 to 1000, managed to stop Greek army dead in their track for eight days.

I remember learning about how Areyo Barzan fought to the last man in order to defend his country, and how he was even honoured by Alexander himself for his bravery as at the end of the last battle, Alexander took his own cape off and covered Areyo Barzan's shattered body and then ordered he be buried with the highest honour and dignity. For as long as I remember, I kept being inspired by this story that was carved permanently into my mind.

During the years after revolution, I could observe other kids studying mullahs and fictional religious characters, or history of other countries and revolutions, and later on about Khomeini's will as a history subject, instead of learning about the great men of Persian Empire, who built and inspired this great country.

So what was the result?

Well, we ended up with a dismayed generation with no sense of belonging, nationality or pride, searching for what they lost in all the wrong places and hoping for something they could hold on and belong to. This search divided the majority of them into opposite camps.

The first group became die hard Islamist Hezbollahies who were still searching for solutions in radicalism, Arab culture and superstition. The more they failed to find an answer the more radicalised they became. These were Pasdars, Basijis and Imam Zaman soldiers who made life miserable for the rest of us during those dark years and still do now by harassing people and pocking their nose in our private lives. These were the people whose dream was being martyred and going to heaven. They have no respect for life and liberty or personal freedom and choice of religion. They were and still are living in a world that belongs to 1,300 years ago and do not want to accept their own flaws or join the rest of the world in the 21st century.

The second group who often call themselves "Free Thinkers" started looking somewhere else for the answer and ended up in the camp of Western admirers.

For these people all answers were in the West, mainly Europe and North America. They were even more confused and dismayed than the people in the other camp, as they wanted to model themselves and their society exactly in the way the West was and did not even for a moment consider the cultural and historical differences that separates the two.

Maybe the saddest part was that in such a process, people in both groups forgot who the real enemy was and started to look at their foreign enemies as friends and inspirations.

The Islamists chose to forget all the crimes that Arabs have committed and still are committing against this country, and the second camp conveniently forgot the role that the West and their ferocious foreign policy played in exacerbating our problems and devastating our country.

But most importantly both groups kept ignoring their own responsibility as citizens by allowing these things to take place and contributing to the problem either directly by conspiring with infiltrators, or indirectly by their selfish and irresponsible attitude toward the society they lived in.

Now don't get me wrong. I have never been against learning the good things about other people's behaviour or culture, or having technological and business trade ties with others, as long as it is fair and people stay true to their own identity and culture.

As it could be observed in their attitude, the people in the Western camp started to put all the blame squarely on Islam and its teachings just as people in the first camp put all the blame on imperialism and the West. Like the generation before them, they did not want to accept their part in all these problems and they offered a solution through demolishing another part of our culture, heritage, history and identity.

Today it is the turn of Islam to be demolished and wiped of our society culture and history. They easily agreed to discard Islamic heritage and all cultural achievements inspired by it.

In their war against Islam these people are also willing to sacrifice our Islamic-inspired poetry, architecture, philosophy and culture -- all in hope of solving their social and personal problems over night. Just as they're previous generation did with the Persian Empire and our imperial heritage.

In the course of this destruction, we are going to loose more of our values, like the importance of marriage and the value of family and extended family, respect for women, moral and religious barriers and safeguards and our link with our philosophy and poetry. As a result of that we will end up with a generations of single 40-year-olds who look at sex as a hobby, more illegitimate children with no one to accept responsibility for them, more use of alcohol and drugs, more depression and broken homes and another generation dismayed.

I have tried several times in the past to persuade these people that it is wrong to put all blames onto a religion just as much as it is wrong to look into a religion for all answers. A religion is what it is, just a religion it is something personal and it cannot be good or bad on its own. Now if you are abusing your religion or committing misconduct in its name to serve your own purpose, then you should be the one on trial and not your religion. Just as the next person might put his religious beliefs into good use and help other fellow human beings.

I guess my point is that most problems in our society today comes from our own attitudes and lack of respect and responsibility toward our country and countrymen. But as it seems, at the end of the day it is always easier to blame someone or something else for one's failures rather than having a long hard look at the mirror and examining our past behaviour.

I can promise you that after all is said and done, when and if the second group gets their way, and your religion suffers the same fate as your culture and history, none of the real issues would be resolved.

After the dust of demolishing your religion settles down, I assure you that your problems will still be there as strong as ever, because you refused to deal with them directly and did not look within your own attitudes and actions for the causes and solutions to these problems.

Furthermore, in thirty years time the next generation would be standing on top of the ruins of another part of their heritage, and wondering where did it all go wrong or what was their previous generation thinking when they were conducting all this madness. Comment

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Areyo Barzan


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