A few months ago a group of 14 Iranians traveled around europe and the United-States by bicycle in order to bring the message of peace and friendship of the Iranian civil society to other nations, in a project called ‘Miles for Peace‘. This is a summary of their experiences after this intense trip and talking about their future projects. See video clips on Youtube and their own blog: milesforpeace.org/blog. People can also sign the petition support dialogue and peace between Iran and other nations >>> See biker’s photos in Washington DC
On May 10th 2007, the day we started our trip, we were average Iranian citizens who saw themselves under the shadow of an imminent threat. A war that had already devastated two of our neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan, was now staring us right in the face. And the same propaganda machine that had, a few years earlier, prepared the public opinion for the invasion of these countries, was now intensely focusing on us; capitalizing on the same fear and ignorance to justify greater economic sanctions and eventual military actions against our country.
We felt overwhelmed, misunderstood and isolated in a world that unfairly viewed us, or so we thought it did, as a bunch of terrorists staunchly seeking nuclear weapons for evil purposes. We could not afford to be silent. We had to be heard! We had to remind the people of the world of the great civilization that was, and is, ours. Share with them the richness of our culture and the depth of our spirituality. And reassure them, that as a nation, we have not initiated any aggression against any other country for the past 260 years!
With the ambition to spread these messages, and yet with realistic expectations, we packed our bags, took our bicycles and embarked into a long journey across the western hemisphere. We knew that the task that we had undertaken was an almost impossible one.
Truly, it was more the sense of responsibility than optimism that had driven us to this project. After all, how could a dozen Iranian citizens on bicycle have any significant influence on the western public opinion against the constant negative propaganda of media giants? Or again, how could they change the course of international politics in a world governed by corporate interests, ideological conflicts and geostrategical calculations?
But as we pedaled through the European and North American continent; from the ancient alleys of Rome to the green hills of Passau to the crowded boulevards of Paris, Los Angeles and New York, and as we met with thousands of people from the four corners of the western world, a new and unexpected hope began to emerge within us.
We encountered an impressive number of individuals rising up against injustice and going beyond their ways, to defend the rights of other human beings living thousands of miles away from them. We were witnessing a true spirit of universal compassion breaking through the boundaries of personal egos, nationalities and religions and gradually expanding all over the human family. A 58 year old British man who had been camping in the Parliament square of London for over 6 years to protest the suffering of Iraqi civilians, affirmed to us in the most determined voice that “Not a single Iraqi child shall be killed in my name”.
We came across an American woman in Washington D.C who was staging three weeks of hunger strike to protest the military threats of an American Senator against Iran. “I am fasting with my spirit” she said, clearly demonstrating, in her words and actions, that the spirit of humankind is truly one. In Chicago, we joined with thousands of other people who were gathering from London, Buenos Aires, San Francisco…to voice, each in their own way, the sufferings of people living in Baghdad, Kabul and Jerusalem.
Something strange and extraordinary might be on the verge happening! Maybe, through the beating drums of war, the loud explosions of cluster bombs, the poisonous dust of depleted uranium and the heart-wrenching cries of agonizing mothers; we are witnessing the painful, yet miraculous, birth of a new integrated world, and the emergence of a higher level of human consciousness.
On July 23rd 2007, the day our long trip ended, we were no longer average Iranian citizens, but engaged citizens of a new world!
We have traveled thousands of miles for peace, but it only seems like a first step on the long and difficult road that is ahead of us. A road to world peace, that we are now more determined than ever to cross.