The warrior in us

The Iranian national psyche


The warrior in us
by LalehGillani

I am a commoner, a daughter to farmers and shepherds, an heir to callous hands, a remnant of toil and rustic life. In spite of what destiny has allotted for me and where providence has taken me, the greatest ambition of my being has always been to return to my roots, to revive the family farm, to cultivate the land, to reclaim the green pastures. Will this dream ever materialize? I think not.

My gloomy reply stems from the reality of a higher calling deeply rooted in the Iranian national psyche, a connection that is as ironic and profound as the genetic link binding us to our ancestors. It is the inescapable tragedy of untold lives. It is the inconvenient truth, Iranian style: Somewhere between the beginning and now, there was a detour, a diversion into politics, when the plow was laid down, and a fist rose into the air. It was a long time ago when the first warrior was born.

No one knows for sure what transpired. The legends passed down through word of mouth are often embellished by zealous storytellers and embroidered at the edges with heroic details. Feuds are turned into revolutionary principles while a just cause becomes a mere grudge. The catalyst may have been an uprising of serfs against a feudal landowner or perhaps a long drawn draught parching the pastures. The ember could have been the lashes of a landlord, the burden of over taxation, or simply an itchy trigger finger. It could have been the love affair between the peasant’s daughter and the aristocrat’s son, the unquenched thirst of wanting, coveting the unattainable. The initial spark might have come from an honor insulted, an ego bruised, or a holy relic desecrated.

Whatever took place so many moons ago sealed the Iranian national psyche: When the first blood was spilled, a commoner’s formerly aimless existence was seemingly transfigured into the purposeful destiny of a warrior. Such was the beginning; the rest is history.

The Iranian saga is filled to the rim with the accounts of commoners stepping into the lime light for a fraction of a second to fulfill a calling and then crawling back into the shadows unnoticed. No monuments have risen to honor these warriors, no commemorative coins or postage stamps to praise their deeds, no pages of history books peppered with their names. They are mourned only by their kin, scorned by bookworms, and romanticized in anonymity. From time to time, the populace takes notice of one of these warriors and follows him into the bliss only to the detriment of their collective welfare. Such is the current state of affairs.

Some say the land breeds radicals, avengers of blood, dreamers of a cause. Some set out to analyze the Iranian national psyche or even mold it into nicely packaged westernized notions of Freudian psychology. Others attempt to tame it, to civilize it, to cleanse it off to erase the bloodbaths and to accentuate the underlying motives. Yet, there are those who brutalize it, only to dismiss its horrific power even when it is staring them squarely in the eye. Few ever comprehend it fully, learn to appreciate it, or master the craft of wielding it.

When kings fail to deliver the nirvana, the impetus of change fuels the hearts of dreamers, alluring the commoners into battle where so eagerly they lay down their lives and shed blood without a moment of hesitation. When the mighty rulers back down, and the façade of power crumbles, the commoners are emboldened to settle the old scores and level the playing field. Another bloodbath marks the path on which they have traveled.

When referendums are held, and elections are stolen, when promises are broken, and a nation sits at awe of what could have been, a fist is slowly but undeniably formed and risen. When Khatamis, Ahmadinejads and Ghalibafs have come and gone, when non-violent avenues of political dissent have been exhausted, when the calls for peaceful transition of power fall on deaf ears, when the cries of hunger are unanswered, the Iranian national psyche reverts back to its roots, to the children of the blacksmith who crafted his apron into a banner of defiance and the bloodbaths that have since followed. Such will be the future.

It is an understatement to simply warn the voices of moderation amongst the opposition groups to be wary of what is to transpire, to alert them of the potential number of lives to be lost, and to wrangle over techniques and strategies to rein the pending tsunami of anger. When all is said and done, battles are won or lost only in the streets of Iran, and the commoners are the foot soldiers who make it happen, the fighters who look death in the eye but don’t flinch, the warriors who recognize no duty greater, no burden heavier, and no love sweeter than that of patriotism.

To refute the true nature of Iranian national psyche is not only foolish, it is also treason. We have been down this road before: Kings have been brought down, and statesmen have been vanquished by few charlatans who have mastered the art of brandishing the commoners. Deny it if you must, but never say again that you were not forewarned by the most recent battle cry of the warriors echoed in the streets of Iran:

ما زن و مرد جنگیم بجنگ تا بجنگیم

As we forge forward, and a new chapter of our nation’s history is about to be written, remember the commoners, those whose collective power moves mountains, those who have neither the temperament nor the insight to prevent themselves from becoming the pawns in another ploy.

Wield the warriors for the betterment of our nation…


more from LalehGillani

True Warriors Rebel For The Sake Of Their Character

by Amir Parviz (not verified) on

How do we know when a group of warriors acts responsibly in this day and age?

The exact same way we always have. By asking this question. As a result of our actions are we now in a position where we can depend more on our positive qualities? If the answer is yes we all acted responsibly.

Iran is today where it is, not because anything was stolen from us but because of our own irresponsible actions and playing into the hands of others. That is a hard truth to swallow, I know.

Remember when our warriors acted out of a sense of jealousy and blame, based on liberal democratic lies, Islamic deceit and western mass media coercion in the days of 1979.

That was not responsible action don't you agree? Just look at the results.

As a nation we can not circumvent our personal issues, we can only progress through them, all together.

My question is, if we have any true warriors at all which I have yet to see in any significant numbers, then why did you not rebel for the sake of the character of your king, who was removed from power as a megalomaniac despot, a dictator, a crook, a murderer and petro-tyrant.

If you feel humiliated you did it to yourselves, you may have been deceived, coerced and manipulated, but you are still the ones who do need to process the shame for your self righteous participation.

Iran has changed since the time of Cyrus the Great in one major way. Back then, the King would lead his people in to battle. Today, the kings who stand for our freedom is forced to withdraw because Iran's warriors are fighting alongside the enemies against their own culture, both within Iran and outside Iran.

True Warriors Rebel For The Sake Of Their Character and Their Kings Character. Until we the people can get that basic point right, how can we expect to realize our dreams?


What Is an Evolutionary Change?

by LalehGillani on

Are we hoping for the mullahs to evolve into humans and start respecting our civil rights? Islam is a totalitarian ideology and much like Communism is incapable of tolerating freedom. We can’t rehabilitate Islam or mullahs.

Once the commoners reached this conclusion, they started looking for change. And, like you, I hope: Whatever change is coming, it will be for the best…


I hope, for everyone's sake, that the next time...

by Ostaad on

it will be different. I am sorry you cannot go back for the reasons you pointed out.

Back to the topic at hand. The despotic extremist akhonds "won" because they could successful convince the people the Shah was a foreign puppet, he certainly was, and his regime was un-Iranian. The secular/intellectual opposition's vocabulary, including democracy and human rights, etc., did not touch the people deep down because although most Iranian people are familiar with these term and like them, but due to dictatorial nature of their leaders, from the Shah to the Velayat, they have not experienced them. So it was very easy to for those who want to impose their own agenda on the people to succeed and even endure against many odds.

Next time, the Iranian people's struggle for freedom and human/civil rights will be against something totally domestic. An Islamic political philosophy, which was concocted entirely for the purpose of supressing democratic right, is much easier to fight because it IS a domestic regime. This time change will be evolutionary and it is well underway.


Re: What Is Stopping You?

by LalehGillani on

As for me: I have been in IRI’s black list for a long, long time… My political career started at a very young age in the chaotic streets of Tehran in 1978. Also, my family bears the unfortunate claim of offering the blood of our loved ones to the motherland unconditionally for innumerable generations. Politics is in our blood.

As for “the base motives of the commoners:” Attaining freedom is and has been the primarily motive of all Iranians, commoners and intellectuals alike, since the dawn of our civilization. Freedom from tyranny…

During this struggle, we have used any and all means at our disposal: Civil actions, non-violent forms of protest, and passive disregard for unjust laws are only a few examples. Iranian national psyche needs these protests in order to reach the end of the line where it can justify aggression against rulers who understand nothing else.

When the commoners reach this conclusion, a tsunami of anger will be unleashed. Iranian intellectuals are often caught off guard by revolutions, unprepared to lead it, and confused about what to do. Such was the case thirty years ago.

With all likelihood, it will be the same next time.


I am wondering, LalehGillani, what's stopping you.

by Ostaad on

I liked reading your piece, but I am scratching my bald head why you cannot return to your roots "to revive the family farm, to cultivate the land, to reclaim the green pastures". As a "commoner" you wouldn't be on the mollah's shit list as a "taghooti" and I'm sure you wouldn't have any problems with the locals.

As to the regime's political persecution and other human rights violations, you did not specify any of those were your main concern except for keeping with generalities and some pop psychology seasoning for taste. Besides, you seemed to miss, I hope not intentionally, the demands and protest other Iranians are involved in which are more geared towards civil action, human right struggles and pursuit of democracy and civil society instead you bemoaned the base motives of the "commoners" such as "revenge" and "blood bath".

So what' s stopping you for doing good for the "commoners" and yourself?



Wrapping Up…

by LalehGillani on

I would like to thank everyone for their time, contributions and posts. It has been a pleasure to visit with you on this thread. Until next time!


Re: What Is the Thing?

by LalehGillani on

Simple: "Our wounds are raw." We have been harmed physically and emotionally by the very people who are supposed to nurture our souls and show us the righteous path, those who claim to carry some sort of verdict from God to represent him here on earth…

Iranians are hurting, body and soul. When a nation is hurting so badly, it is bound to make mistakes. We are looking for a way out.

Will we make the right choice? The odds are against us. The commoners will rally around another charlatan who can sell his new cure the best.


What is the thing?

by wanttoknow (not verified) on

What is the thing “the opposition refuse to acknowlege”?


in the blood

by shirazie (not verified) on

we live in a bad neighborhood.. to survive we have to be fighters. we fought bad guys ( and lost a few battles) for 3000 years. War sorts out the weak versus strong.

Darwinism .. the warriors survive not the Peace Lovers. Our genes will drive us to the next war automatically. After all- we are only a two legged animal and no more - no less.



by Kurdish Warrior (not verified) on

Well written piece. Enjoyed reading it.


What about Life?

by LalehGillani on

Uh…life…the inescapable tragedy of untold lives… I loved reading your post!

Once an elderly Kurdish warrior told me, “We will get to life once we are free.” Iranian national psyche is preoccupied with death and blood because this is the price it has to pay for freedom.

For now, what keeps me awake at night is death. The stage is set for the warriors to become the pawns in another ploy.

While our political activists are too busy holding hands and singing Cum Bye Yah, another charlatan (another Khomeini) is going to rally the masses to give them what the opposition refuses to acknowledge…


dear Laleh and whoever has the patience

by Mehrban (not verified) on

Dear Laleh,

You are on to something important about the Iranian national psyche. This psyche predominantly motivated by nabard which has been personified in Kaveh Ahangar for centuries and this willingness to fight for a cause to death. But there is also another side to this coin of our national psyche. What about life? What about Norooz? What about gardens? Isn’t that a part of our national psyche too? What do we do with that? I for one am tired of death. And tired of blood.

Maybe it is centuries of subjugation and rampant injustice that has made us suspicious of life and has strengthen our impulse to repeatedly self-destruct. And what after the “Jang” that in your powerful article you so selflessly embrace? What then? Will we make peace with life or will we ceaselessly feed our restlessness in this never ending cycle of subjugation and revolt?

Maybe Islamic Republic knows us better than ourselves that is why it keeps things off kilter to maintain their hold. Before we go headlong down the road of yet another bloody fruitless revolt to install yet another leader, we should get to know ourselves. You write beautifully but think about it the easiest part of a change of a system is the change of the system. What comes next is the real challenge. I am so glad that someone has brought up the subject of Iranian national psyche. In my view it is the most important subject missing from the Iranian contemporary political discourse. How could we choose properly when our history for so many years is filled with blood and tears when in our painful memories we constantly turn to everyone and ask them to apologize to us to make us whole, to make all the wrongs right. Yet every Norooz we show up happily in droves to buy gold fish for the haftsin to revive what characterizes us best, our optimism. What do we really want?

The answer is not in a different leader it is not in Khatami or Reza Pahlavi or Maryam Rajavi it is in us and the Iranian national psyche. A lot has happened to us. The Iranian psyche is burdened by unspeakable pain during an unimaginably long history of kings and subjects, foreign occupations and now Imams and ommats. It is also armed with unbelievable resilience and survival skills but to survive does not mean to survive unscathed. Our wounds are raw. We need to heal and no one can do it for us. I truly doubt that we can achieve anything with yet another frenzied revolt but to prolong our ailments even if the revolt maybe in the proud tradition of Kaveh.



by ganselmi on

You sound like you could write a 300-style style story from the Persian perspective, and I mean that seriously.

Nicely done!


Hoping for Communism?

by LalehGillani on

Lord, no. How did you conclude that I am advocating a communist uprising? Is it because of the banner hanging in the picture? Or is it my fascination with the commoners?

Anyone with even a minuscule knowledge of the Iranian society can attest to the fact that communism is a failed ideology in Iran. If the dark ages of mullahs have taught Iranians one lesson, that lesson is to reject any form of totalitarianism.

Communist ideology has no tolerance for freedom.


My Motivation…

by LalehGillani on

My motivation for writing this article wasn’t to hope for more bloodshed. To the contrary, I am tormented by the prospect of any mother losing her child. There is no glory in senseless violence…

I took this opportunity to highlight what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future if we continue in the present course.



by toee (not verified) on

ee, no one hopes to see more mothers losing their kids. If you haven't heard lately, here is a news flash, mothers are losing kids every day in Iran right now. What about these mothers?


Dear Laleh

by ee (not verified) on

How my heart aches for you and your generation of "rafighes". How I remember my sweet communist friends,all idealistic, and all young. how they were never seen again and how they died in vain!They did die for an ideology that looks beautiful from outside, promising justice and equality for masses and how bankrupt it is in reality. I used to be one too, or at least tried to be one and how sorry i am for all those brilliant minds cut short by IRI for being a communist.At the same time I realize now that it never worked and it will never work. so my dear and I mean it my dear,we will never see what your hoping to see in the streets of Iran. for love of our new generation i hope that we do not repeat the same mistake, and this time there will be no more laleh's being hurt and suffer in the process of the freedom of our country.Lets hope that we can get rid of this corrupt regime in a non violent way, may take longer but no mother should see what those mothers saw.
a former "rafigh"


Keep Iranians HUNGRY, there will never be any uprising

by Winston (not verified) on

I believe it was Churchill or some British philosopher who once said:

To keep Arabs from revolting against their government, keep them well fed, to keep Iranians from revolting against their government, keep them hungry.

And IRI has managed to do just that and it has managed it very very well.

I don't see any prospect of uprising or revolt any time in the near or distant future in Iran as more people get destitute and hungrier in Iran.