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Democracy vs. Anarchy
Being a monarchist or a republican does not exempt you from the human race

February 26, 2002
The Iranian

For several weeks now a group of Iranians have engaged in a cyber war. For some odd reason I have been copied into all these correspondences. Some have been very rude. I will not name individuals but they know who they are.

I recently found a quote from E.M. Forster about democracy. He said: "Two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough."

I sent this to a lady who, having misunderstood my motive, immediately associated me to "those thugs" who have been sending her rude emails, threatening her, etc. She then expressed doubt that contrary to her earlier opinion I was now not the gentleman she thought I was because I did not speak out in her defence.

Ironically, the same lady and I had exchanged correspondence condemning such repulsive behaviour. I also received an email from another lady who said that a certain Mr X had been calling her names and cursing her in the most obscene manner. The question is what does this have to do with me?

Well since I never started this mud-slinging I would be tempted to say nothing. But when I see that my readers are concerned that my silence may be proof of complicity then I feel obligated to say something.

I can only say that while democracy is worth cheering twice it also has a basic rule of conduct: tolerance and respect for your fellow man or woman. If there is anything I despise in life it is intolerance from any quarter.

I also have my own opinions and set of beliefs. I love Iran in my own way which is different from how others love it. I have my personal views on religion and politics. I like history, etc. But whilst I may write or express my views they are not meant to be imposed. People are selective by nature. They will read what they like and reject that which does not conform to their values. The world is full of variety.

Unfortunately, the recent debates in The Iranian has been viewed by some as a war of words between monarchists and republicans. I see it more as an immature explosion of raw emotions. The name of Reza Pahlavi keeps coming up as if he condons such behaviour. If anybody has listened to his speeches and read his book or even met him at a university lecture they would see that he stands for democracy and all that implies.

I am not sure that the is a complete representation of our community's aspirations and political beliefs but it does reveal the diversity among us. Sometimes the letters that are written sound like a badly tuned orchestra. Maybe with time it will refine and develop into nice music.

Democracy is an art. It requires rational thinking or what I call refined emotions. We must feel free to articulate and hear counter-arguments. But when the debate gets personalised then maybe the editor should jump in and set some guidelines.

Democracy and Anarchy are two different things. As an Iranian I am prone to emotional outbursts but I have tried to express them in a civilised manner. We must learn to get on even if we carry a baggage of pain caused by the events of 1979. Some things are hard to forget. We may not want to forgive certain things. But at some point we need to learn that nobody's views are absolute truths but they may reflect an individual's experience.

Life is a tale of two cities. In the future I hope Iranians will correspond with each other in a mature and healthy manner. Learn to agree to disagree. Threatening anybody or calling people names is not only uncivilised behaviour but is is a violation of basic human rights.

Being a monarchist or a republican does not exempt you from the human race. We must learn to live side by side and use diversity to inform ourselves without giving each other a bloody nose. Our past is a complex story and explains many of our current behaviour. There will never be a perfect world but I feel a certain resonance with this quote from Reza Pahlavi:

"Many events have occurred over the past half century, filling us all with diverse emotions. Whatever we may think about the past, what was good and what was not, we need to remember that even the best of yesterday cannot address the needs of today. Each era has its particular circumstances and requirements. We need to understand them fully as we strive to build our future. We have no time, nor should we have the desire, for vengeance. We all have grievances about various things, but these can mire us in the endless, ugly process of settling scores. Our country needs to get on with the new agenda."

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment to the writer
Cyrus Kadivar

By Cyrus Kadivar

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