A while ago I wrote another article (“We’re not Ready”) on this site regarding democracy and where we are as a nation in terms of achieving it. Not surprisingly my article was misunderstood by many people and hence I was accused of being a pseudo monarchist, an IRI agent another impromptu Iranian in exile and so on and so forth. I guess the only positive comfort that I could draw from the experience was knowing that I have managed to stick to the straight and narrow right down the middle and hence had to endure such attacks, insults and accusations, not only from those on the extreme end but also by those who think their way is the only way and the rest of us are either idiots who need to be put in our place or traitors who should be exposed.
Hence before starting the second part of my current article I would like to make something clear. Unlike many of those who participate in such discussion with a preset political orientation and aim to promote an ideological agenda, I have no particular political orientation or agenda to prove here
I am here only in search of the truth, trying to make sense of it all and hopping to find some answer and/or hopefully a solution to our current problems as a nation and off course I can only do this with the help and cooperation of other Iranians. So I can confidently say that
Yes! I am a Monarchist, I am a republican, I am a green activist I am a supporter of MKO I am a communist. I am all and I am none.
May be that is the first step. By breaking the preset barriers and starting to see the world in a new light, where there are no black and whites and no absolutes. Just a big shade of gray where we need to compromise in a daily basis in order to find the best solutions to a set of complicated constantly evolving problems.
In the previous article I tried to point to the mistakes which got us into this mess and in here I am going to attempt use your help in order to find a way out of it.
So to cut a long storey short in here I am going to again talk about democracy, about what I have read, investigated, observed, analysed, learned and understood on the subject and why some nations have got it while on the other hand some do not, in spite of several attempts and countless sacrifices
Again to clear any misunderstanding I am NOT talking about the deserving and undeserving, as it is my absolute belief that every nation on this planed deserves to live in a prosperous democratic atmosphere, being able to talk their mind free from any fear of prosecution or discrimination. However as it is the reality of life most of them have not been able to achieve such goal and for that reason it is only natural and logical to assume that they have had an erroneous approach to the issue
Deserving and achieving are two different things and in my article here I am going to concentrate on the achieving part of it. Like it or not it doesn’t matter how much we think we deserve or we are ready for democracy, as long as we do not have the right tools, right attitude and correct state of mind we will not have it and that is the cruel fact of life. This is more about having the will to walk the walk rather than displaying the style by just talking the talk.
So what is the answer to this problem and how can a nation free itself from dictatorship and achieve democracy?
The first answer that comes into the mind of many including yours truly is the word revolution.
Well! A REVOLUTION don’t you just love the idea? Only the word on its own gives us the buzz and sends tingles down our spine. However in my case after stepping back and reflecting for just a few moments the buzz disappears and many questions start flying in.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are many cases where a revolution is the only primary step that a nation can take towards democracy and I believe ours to be one of those cases.
But the main centre of attention in the above statement is and should be on the word PRIMARY As I explained in my previous article in democracy, revolution is a double edged sword and if not used correctly it could do more harm than good and the disaster of 1979 is a perfect example
Furthermore one need to understand and accept what can realistically be achieved by a revolution. The best that a nation can realistically hope to achieve by a revolution is dismantling and elimination of the old order. Bringing down the current dictator and punishing those who committed crimes against the people. Hence preparing the ground for democracy to flourish and this is where the mission will come to an end. That would be all a revolution can do, as this is the natural course of any revolution’s life cycle. Hence although a revolution can prepare the ground for democracy to start and flourish it can never guarantee one.
Democracy however is a different kettle of fish altogether. If a nation do not have a set of solid principals, a blue print and a prototype of progress to move forward and construct democratic establishments and if this plan is not vigorously put into action from the very next day after the victory is achieved and more importantly if they do not have an attitude to practically back those principals and hence their democratic establishment, it is almost certain that they will slip back into another dictatorship just like the one they got rid of, if not more brutal and deadly. The only different would be the name.
There are many examples of such occurrences around the world such as Cuba, China, Russia, Zimbabwe, and of course Iran where one dictator was replaced by another one
You see? Building is always more difficult than destroying as it needs more planning, more precision and not to mention right national state of mind and course a rigours course of action. While revolution is about dismantling the old order, democracy is about building a new and adequate one, by establishing institutions which could and would follow specific rules and walk on the straight and narrow within a framework of predefined rules.
To achieve such goal the first thing that is demanded from us is an adequate understanding of what it is actually that we are trying to achieve. It needs a true understanding of the word democracy and by that I do not mean just empty slogans and passionate statements but action like change of ones mindset, attitude and behaviour.
Amongst other thing democracy fundamentally is freedom of opposition to state its mind. That means if we really want democracy we need to be prepared to engage, listen and compromise especially with those with whom we have the most quarrels.
It means that if I am a monarchist I threat the members of MKO with respect, it means that if I am a member of green movement I do not insult or dismiss those who want to see the back of IRI for good and it means that if I am a republican I should respect the monarchists and their choice of leader. But first and foremost it means that if I hear or read something that I do not agree with I will not insult the writer or accuse them of being an idiot a traitor or an agent of the enemy.
Again I need to emphasise here respecting someone and their point of view or their right to adopt a position and choose a leader does NOT mean to agree with them or refraining from questioning their logic, ideology or the motive and conduct of their leader in any form or shape. But it means keeping a political or ideological debate just that, a debate, away from any insult or baseless accusation. It means accepting the fact that each and every political faction and ideology in our current political climate has got at least a few points right and not all of their followers are brainwashed zombies who need to be converted or traitors who have to be silenced or eliminated.
On the other hand if today as a powerless commentator who hides behind an anonymous name I can not tolerate those who think different to me and resort to any unfair unethical mean to silence them, then what guarantee do we have that tomorrow when I or my preferred party is in power we will not establish another Savak, Ettelaat, Evin or Khavaraan, and attempt to science our critics by killing and torturing them
Just remember that in a debate it is always easier to convince someone of the flaws in their view if we are prepared to accept their valuable points and try to find a common ground first, instead of attempting to dismiss them point blank.
Such issues today are the main obstacle in our way to democracy. As it can be observed today all of our opposition groups are at each others throat not only fighting over the old ideological differences but also pointing finger of blame and accusation at each other. Refusing to cooperate or even sit around the same table and try to find common goals. They all claim to be democratic and claim to fight for democracy but absolutely refuse to behave in a democratic manner and to practice the most fundamental principal of democracy which is respecting the right of opposition and yes the right of everyone to state their mind freely and to select their leader, including and specially the right of those whose ideology we can not stand.
In the mean time the only looser in all this is democracy itself and the major beneficiary is the dictator currently in power
Secondly as a nation we need to change our attitude towards each other by learning to respect other citizens. Starting from the most basic things like driving on the road while respecting the right of pedestrians and other motorists, or changes in our practices like refusing to give or accept bribe and respecting the right of other people especially those who are not able to defend theirs.
It is always easy to put all the blames on one regime or one individual. But we need to keep in mind that both in today’s Iran and during the last regime most of the suppressions tortures financial embezzlements and crimes against humanity were being committed by other Iranians. That was why a change of regime on its own was not and is enough and will never be able to get rid of these problems. Just remember that the agents who torture, rape, murder and kill our fellow activists in IRI prison are also Iranian and until we as a nation are able to eradicate such behaviour from our society a change of regime would be noting but a mere window dressing.
Thirdly we need to understand and accept that whoever comes after this regime can not and will not resolve all our problems over night. In fact I can confidently say that on the contrary solving the problems with our country is the responsibility of each and every one of us. All a democratic government and a lawful system can do is to prepare the ground and provide us with the opportunity to rebuild, repair and move forward. But no government would be able to do our job for us and any one who claims otherwise is either a con artist or extremely naive
Democracy is not something that can be given to a nation or achieved over night. It has to be earned through change of attitude and hard work and that will take time and effort, in fact lot of it. Furthermore democracy is not a one size fit all entity. Every nation’s democracy is different in accordance to their culture and principals. That is why for example democracy in US and UK are very different and although they both are democratic system, each one is tailored to the needs and attitudes of those nations.
Now some of you might say, well this is stating of the obvious, what’s new and we already know this. But I am afraid until and unless we put what we know into action and practice what we preach, knowing is not good enough. In fact on the contrary. The fact that while knowing these principals we still refuse or fail to put them into practice and prefer to act on impulse instead of logic, only increases our guilt and responsibly. It simply is not good enough to just nod ones head and agree theoretically. While no practical steps are taken.
Another argument and reaction to all this however could be just to circle our hands and say: what can I do. I am only one person. How can I change the world or influence all these political groups and faction and get them to behave appropriately. It is out of my power.
In answer to those people I remind you of the statement made by another man in very similar circumstances who stated:
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family., My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
So here is the challenge for all of us.
I can assure all of you that the majority of those who participate in these discussions are against IRI and they all want democracy; although they may have different views on what democracy actually is.
So the next time you read an opinion you do not like or strongly disagree with, try to react and reply with your head and not your gut. Try to put your point and reasons for your disagreement across without any insult or baseless accusation and try to be fair to the other party and accept the correct and valuable points in their argument
Even if we encounter an IRI supporter or agent on this site we should treat it as an opportunity rather than a threat. As with our behaviour we can show them that there is an alternative and in future democratic Iran there is room for them as well. Show that we are willing to address their legitimate concerns and accept their correct points regardless of their point of view and political orientation.
Then by transforming ourselves and this site as result we might be able to act as a beacon of hope and a prototype model for others to follow so that our next revolution will end up in real democracy rather than another dictatorship and thirty years from now our children would not have to ask themselves the same question of
“Where did it go wrong?”