Teens on the verge of adulthood, adults clinging to the last years of innocence. The generation before mine, that of my parents, was multi-faceted, controversial, fill in the blank with any adjective you choose. They lived in the days of the Shah; some loved him, some were eager to see change.
My mother tells me about the beaches that mirrored high-end European summer resorts, the bikini clad women who were replaced at the slap of a mullah's sandal against the pavement by women dressed head to toe in the color of death. The handsome soldiers with starched collars who gave way to dirty beards and empty glares. The streets paved with promise that were forever stained with blood the color of pomegranate juice and charred flag remains.
Thanks to the generation before mine, I am not a resident of Tehran. I was born an American. But I was raised an Iranian.
There are many of us, those born after 1979, who live in over 134 different countries around the world, speaking languages from English to Spanish to French and maybe even Swahili. But our other language, our mother tongue, will always be Farsi.
But who are we? Iranian youth in Iran have made a name for themselves. They fall into two main camps, I suppose. The brave students who work hard for knowledge, knowing it is the one thing that no form of oppression can take away from you. And the soda pop-drinking, MTV-watching soldiers of globalization who have turned their backs on goals and futures and only care about taking what little safe escapes they can as long as it temporarily helps them feel better about the sad hands that they've been dealt in life.
But who are we? Iranian-Americans? Persians? The lost generation of Iranians with passports that don't contain those beautifully crafted Farsi letterings. The ones whose ears prick up whenever they hear the words from the language their parents spoke.
How will history define us? If things go on as they are now, history won't even remember us. We will be those insignificant flies on the wall that no one ever notices in the first place, let alone remembers.
Why would anyone want to remember a group who have all the rights in the world, who can take advantage of all the education that the Iranian daneshjoos would kill for, and yet, we listen to rap music all day, highlight our hair, and call ourselves “Persians”?
Our history, the history of our country, dates back to cradles of civilization. Our first leaders were men who exemplified the true meaning of power. Our poets talked of love and belief, our parents were raised to values. Our grandfathers prayed towards Mecca, our grandmothers nurtured us as children until we were clutched away from their tired grips by fate and circumstance.
Our parents, right or wrong, no matter whose side it was they were on twenty-plus years ago, had an opinion. They were either this or that, not standing on the fencepost, quiet and unresponsive. But who are we? What do we stand for? What do we believe in? How will Iran remember us?