HAFEZ: 1st vs. 3rd World

HAFEZ:  1st  vs.  3rd  World

With the Olympics on and viewing a myriad of categories where sportsmen can excel,  I do wish we also had categories for what how rate nations as 1st World Vs. 2nd or 3rd World. We live in an era where the only category is essentially economic, material deveiopment, followed by political freedom.  Fair enough, the West gets the gold medal and Kudos to them. But as any person from the Arts would immediately observe, that’s like having an Olympics with only one or two sporting categories. 

What about medals for:

– Architecture

– Urban Squares (the above, Maidan-eh Naghsheh Jahan: ISFAHAN, IRAN is one of my favorites -(“3rd” World? – I don’t think so.)

– How few or many children take anti-depressants

– How many people will come to help you if you tripped and fell on the sidewalk

– Food and Cuisine

– How few are obese

– Fashion (the Italians ace that one in my book)

– Economy

– Eonomy and what % actually trickles down to the population at large

and more… feel free to add to the list.

I have been blessed the opportunity to travel much. To physically live in 3 conitnents (Asia, Europe and the US) – and have often had to face the puzzling question in my mind: “This is called 3rd World?”  of “This is called 1st World”? – say, when standing in Isfahan’s Maidan – or hearing stories of Katrina-like storms in Thailand and the lack of looting, nasty behavior or violence.

In Persian there’s a saying – “Khodeshoun miboran o khodeshoun midoozand” – or something similar to that. The gyst is pointing to a tailor who determines what is a good fit, and then goes to make clothes to fit his own definition of what is “good.” Who made up the “1st” world and “3rd” world definitions?


The World is a far more complex place than one which is purely
defined by material gains, or political freedom alone. Kudos to those who win Olympic gold in these 
categories . But there’s far more nuance to this planet – and we need medals for many, many more categories….And of course this
took me to Hafez:

اگر این شراب خام است وگر آن حریف پخته

به هزار باره بهتر ز هزار پخته خامی

If “this” wine is unfermented and raw, while the “other” is perfectly formed and cultivated

I’d one thousand times over  stick with “this” over a thousand of the “other”s cultivated rawness

Hafez is reminding us that in the path of “Erfan” – Mysticism – any stage is worthy of high praise. Meanwhile, those rivals or “Harif” who are not in such a path,  no matter what level of expertise they have reached, fade in comparison to even the raw stages of the “Aref” or the mystic. Now… given that for Hafez the key to this path is living through your heart, as opposed to your mind / using “kherad” and rationale, then… I sometimes wonder what he’d think of our world today – that we have chosen to call 1st World all the material/logical gains – and relegate to 3rd place all else? Huh? Hafez joon, chi migi?

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