As Iranian-Americans we are no stranger to tough love. Whether from our parent’s pressure in school or the family business, in adapting to the US and new immigrants or other, we have learned that if often pays off.
Sure its difficult, and those of us who have had to deal some toughness to a loved one know it’s easier to coddle than to push. But when the need arises, we know it must be done.
So where is my generation’s tough love with the Iranian Regime? Sure, we all support the basics—freedom of speech, freedom of association and on. But what are we doing to help our Iranian peers who are living in fear of the Regime’s wrath?
Iranian-Americans like myself are beyond privileged, and we must harness our privilege for their benefit. Granted we overwhelmingly still carry our cultural stigmas – pre marital sex, homosexuality and intermarriage, for example – we can agree that these are rights not crimes, nor reasons for punishment. So why have we been so complacent in the US? Have we taken our own freedoms here for granted?
We must acknowledge the blessing of living in a free and democratic society, where arts, culture and diversity are celebrated not threatened and prohibited. We must be aware of the gift we’ve been given – to live in a society which promotes our rights of freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and belief.
In not taking these rights in the US for granted, we must also acknowledges the pain and suffering of those peers throughout Iran, who are prohibited from a plethora of arts and music, the freedom to think without boundaries, challenge the status quo and dictate their own futures, and the chance to love that who they choose… whether male of female. These are only a few of the difficulties faced under the imposing Islamic Regime – the list is unending – but you don’t need me to tell you that.
So the question – how do we use our rights here, to help them there?
Its not just about going to rallies, where we are primarily joking around with our friends. We must employ our freedom of speech, our societal respect for the arts and creativity, and freedom to navigate the internet and social media and creatively do two things. Support Iran’s young freedom seekers, but also, denounce the Islamic Regime – a regime consumed with domination, not service to its people. This is where tough love kicks in. For some of us it is more difficult than others – we have culturally been educated against embarrassing our elders, and public disrespect and dishonor of our family. But as the Regime continues to push the envelope against its people, it becomes clear that the Regime is not our elders, nor is it our family. True Iranians support modernity and progress, equality and rights. After all, it was Cyrus the Great who penned the very first Charter of Human rights. The Greek may claim democracy, but Human Rights undeniably runs through our veins.
American culture has taught us the power of organization and protest, and the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs. American culture has given us the tools to help our people, and I suggest we start using them.