Individual vs. State

The last prime minister under the Shah of Iran, Shahpour Bakhtiar, in Persian poetry tenor eloquently said, “Iran Harghez Nakhahad Mord“ (Iran will never die). This was about thirty two years ago when the democratic aspiration of Iranians was highly prevalent and he forewarned Iranians to the peril of the Islamic clerical despotic rule. Ironically, Iran fell to a Shi’a Islamic clerical fundamentalist dictatorial ruling. Today, freedom-loving Iranians everywhere are supplementing his word of counsel by their actions that not only the Iranians’ aspiration for a free, tolerant, modern and secular democratic Iran will never die but, it will be ultimately triumphant.

Undoubtedly, thus far the Iran’s state of affairs has failed to create the capacity to securely place Iran on the road to modernity and democracy. This failing theme has been detrimental for Iranians individually, collectively, and as a nation. Subsequently, a deep-rooted shared anguish, uneasiness, and boldness are apparent among Iranians.

In order to claim a rightful and equitable place among civilized and peaceful democratic nations of the world, Iranians need to overcome major internal and external impediments. There is no assurance that Iranians will not receive heart targeting stabs from every direction. Despair and failure will keep overwhelmingly showing their horrid heads at every turn of their attempt to establish rationality, humanity and harmony, and the creation of a peaceful state. However, giving up when despair and failure appear is not part of this spirited Iranian DNA structure and that is a very positive and promising sign. Iranians’ essence was and is to keep contributing to the goodness of humankind and human civilization.

On the path to recovery, we are witnessing endless efforts of Iranians everywhere in and out of Iran. Their constructive and encouraging words and actions for Iran, Iranians, and more explicitly for all of humanity warm everyone’s hearts. In addition, Iranians have used their words and actions against the brutal Islamic fundamentalist dictatorial oppression. Both Iranians and non-Iranians are grateful for their genuine efforts. Iranians wish to preserve Iran as a motherland to Iranians and as an influential contributor to civilization, as well as crave for non-Iranians to safeguard Iran as a historical contributor to the world civilization. In addition, Iranians have come to recognize that stressing upon all Iranian people, regardless of race and/or ethnicity, that being a lawful entity entitled equally as full beneficiary of this geographic articulation is a must. Moreover, Iranians are genuinely attempting to discern fundamental principles that unite them. As a result, the present state of Iranians psyche appears bewildered to some extent. The unity that connects Iranians to each other currently appears to be in need of a different nature. For achieving a harmonious and indispensable unity, the revolutionary route can also be simultaneously and intensely evolutional and cultural action. (Freire, 2007, p. 175)

To rectify past and existing wrongs and tribulations and leap into the 21st century, the pressing challenge is to collectively and so thoroughly define what would Iran’s national principles be that no one would think of arguing otherwise. What would Iranians revere the most as a nation so as to every Iranian mother will verse them merrily into the ears of her newly born Iranian sons and daughters, prattling on her comforting lap? (Jones, 2008)

One premise Iranians can agree on is that Persia (Iran) was founded upon the principle of acknowledging the individual rights. Certain rights (for example: religion and customs) have been essential parts of traditional Persian/Iranian customary laws and practices. Cyrus of Persia (please note that glorification of Iran’s past leader or Persian race is not the intent) perceived his relationship with the people inhabiting his empire to involve mutual obligations and freedoms. Therefore, it is fair to say that Iran’s underpinning accord was a social contract based on ideals that are now considered essential to democracy. What is remarkable about the Iranian history is the ideal of so many people coexisting in harmony and knowledge of that such harmonious coexistence is possible when “rights” of individuals are honored and protected.

Embedded into the Persian/Iranian psyche, therefore, is a great and valuable historical and traditional understanding: one must not sacrifice individual rights and autonomy for the benefit of the state. To date, re-establishing pride and faith in these rights is a legacy and birthright that Iranians appear striving for. One principle appears carved into Iranians’ collective memory and passed from one generation to the next is the necessity of not losing the sight of the primacy of individual and human rights.

Our foremothers and forefathers wished us all well and it will be prudent to heed their wisdoms accordingly. Cherishing and upholding the principles of the Iranian traditional rights, tolerance, freedom, rule of law, equality before the law, Universal Declaration of human rights and responsibilities, democratic participatory governance, diversity, interdependence, and modernity can help Iranians to rectify the wrongs and thrust into the 21st century. Furthermore, a modern perspective of our ancient mindset “Faravahar” for this century can be collectively developed and be heeded by us Iranians so that the future generations will be served well. Certainly, Iranians will progress well by deeming the well-being of current and future Iranian and worldwide generations.

In this spirit, here on this page, you will find an attempt to offer a contemporary perspective on the “Faravahar” (Iranians’ ancient secular wisdom) in favor of preserving this knowledge for future generations. Faravahar is perceived as a humanistic, tolerant, secular, inclusive, non-racial, non- religious, progressive, utilitarian, and forward looking mindset. This undertaking should be considered as another stepping stone towards the direction of our collective efforts to find our lost wisdom so that a new bright, free, advanced, democratic, interdependent, and peaceful Iran can be developed.

Majid Baradar founded 12Petals Media Group and currently serves as its Development Executive. Majid’s vision was to develop a community-production based media group with an emphasis on the “culture of human rights and responsibilities” philosophy >>>
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1) Jones, Malcom. “Who Was More Important: Lincoln or Darwin?”, Newsweek (June 2008): Print

2) Freire, Paulo. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, Continuum International Publishing Group Inc: New York, 2007

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