Tired of the hate in the world and on Iranian.com, I went to an Iranian American Writers Association meeting today. I had been looking forward to getting together with my friends and talking about our passion, writing. It is always a magical Sunday morning spent with folks I have come to love and respect, while we work on our craft. No sooner had I sat down to immerse myself in the bliss, that I realized the conversation already in progress was about Israeli attacks on Gaza. And so it was that I was caught with everybody else smack in the middle of another discussion about Gaza. The topic was what is the responsibility of writers under the circumstances? Should we go on our merry ways and write about our characters fictional and real, developing plots and storylines and tweaking story structures to please ourselves, the audience, and agents, or should we be writing about the human catastrophe in Gaza and participating in book and essay readings to bring attention to the tragedy?
People engaged in an emotional debate, expressing love and respect for each other, sympathizing with victims, and agreeing or disagreeing on their level of responsibilities about the issue. Believe it or not, the discussions were a human-grade, face-to-face-gaged, profanity-and-hate-less version of the discussions which have been taking place on this platform for the past couple of months. Some people thought it is very much the writers’ and artists’ responsibility to speak up and to condemn Israel. Someone thought it is none of the writers’ business, because writers aren’t pundits, and no one should be allowed to tell a writer what to write about. Some people thought it is the responsibility of writers to write in support of defenseless children who must be cherished and protected into adulthood and life, and not buried into graves. Some of the writers who are married to Jewish spouses talked about the way they have been approaching the dilemma of their conflicting politics with their in-laws, barely dodging “anti-semitic” labels. A Jewish writer was talking about emails she and her cousin in Israel have been having over the subject of Hamas, Israeli soldiers’ being blessed by Jewish rabbis to go to war, and the exchanges the two cousins separated by time and distance have been having over them.
As I was watching some of the most brilliant people I know share their thoughts and ideas, some getting really emotional and others staying calmer but just as focused on the issue, I felt so much better about this discussion than any others I have watched on the site recently. Though people were passionate and thoughtful, they weren’t losing sight of their mutual love and respect for each other, discussing the issue with all their attention, not without passion, but definitely without hate, accusations, and insults.
Returning home, I willed myself to stay away from Iranian.com, where these days the gaping hole which has left all humanity bleeding has left a crater of ill feelings and disgusting rhetoric for all to see forever and ever. I told myself I would work on my touchy feely story about relationships, for I am a writer and not a political animal. As addictions go, however, I couldn’t stay away and checked on the latest blogs and articles. Catching one particularly disgusting one, where the blogger was congratulating herself on her ideological benefactors’ victory over poor, hungry, and defenseless civilians and children, insulting decent members of the site further, complete with smiley faces, I let it go, the retching feeling of complete overdose on hate, turning into heaves out of my stomach, and tears out of my eyes.
I so wished I could see the faces of the people saying those words. More importantly, I wished they could see mine as they were supporting hate and planting additional seeds of it everywhere, making sure that our world which has never been the same since the hateful process of Holocaust began in Europe, will never return to anything remotely peaceful and compassionate for generations to come.
These days, I think I can handle going to work, to visiting my friends and family, and attending group meetings while the world hurts from the Gaza situation, for I am capable of facing other human beings face to face to engage in discussions. What I can no longer handle is to watch these shameless hate mongers sit behind a keyboard somewhere far or near, shooting pellets, bullets, and bombs of hate into the weakling and unprepared community of diasporic Iranians on Iranian.com. I am thoroughly disgusted.