Monthly Archives: May 2011

Child Sexual Abuse and Our Iranian Culture

We Iranian do not know much about sexual abuse and we do not want to know. This statement does not say that we do not have the complex problem of sexual abuse within our communities. We have huge problems, still we are covering our heads with blankets to not hear, not feel, not know, and not listen. Why is that? Well, we Iranian are prohibited to talk about sex and sexuality, not that we are angles, no, because we have not culturally been raised to be open-minded. I certainly apologize if I offend some people. We have to have this discussion.

Child sexual abuse is a problem that affects every community around the world. Our attitude toward children is not certainly the healthiest one in the world. We Iranian somehow have learned that children do not understand much and they forget everything that happens to them during the childhood. Metaphorically we say: they will grow and forget. No, they will not. Pedophiles and perverts exist among every single culture. There are many of them in our home country and in our communities. We give them right and access to children by denying the problem itself.

Think carefully and let admit our misconceptions and mistakes. In our Iranian culture, children are sometimes left out to the cruelty of their parents, adults in their neighborhoods, teachers in schools, other adults who try to exploit the child in any possible ways.

This is no surprise that we our Persian culture do not have lawful means to protect our children, no one is protected by law anyway. People are suffering in various levels, individuals, groups. Our communities are mostly in pain that is caused by the chaos of ideology instead of human rights protection.

Sexual abuse of children is a society problem in every country and society. Sexual abuse is an act of crime, done by someone who is close to the child. Studies have shown that teachers, couches, priests, babysitters, grandparents, and parents are the main abusers. Since there is no study about this issue in our Iranian communities (may be I miss that data) it is hard to say what kinds of caregiver have mostly committed this horrible crime.

In many families in our home country who do marry young girls (under age) we do justify the sexual abuse of that girl. We know that many traditional families in our home country they do force their young girls to marry. How many of us do not have mothers or females in their families who were married away to someone they did not know? How many of our young girls in Iran are being given to men much older than their age, still these girls are under age? This is a legitimate form of sexual abuse and rape in our culture. We need to first recognize sexual abuse being a problem that exists and that ruins many communities inside and outside of our home country.

Iranian girls who are being touched sexually or inappropriately would never dare to report that. Few who have reported rape or abuse have been blamed for the crime and punished for the truth. That is a shameful story that has never been acknowledged.

Victims of sexual abuse in our culture are usually forced to be silent, threatened to be punished if they disclose, and left out with the blame of having caused the sexual interaction.

If the walls of fear would fall down, many of these victims would come forward to testify the level of abuse, fear, isolation, emotional trauma, terror, and hurt that they have endured in the hands of those who decided to have sexual gratification with children.

Sexual abuse is a crime. We need to educate people and have them realize that children should be respected sincerely. Children have the right to live and thrive with safety, compassion, and away from harm. Sexual abuse is a crime that leads to physical and emotional abuse.

Sexual abuse victims are most silent and stigmatized people in our Iranian communities. Young victims of sexual abuse are doomed to a life time package of guilt, shame, and pain.

We should realize that sexual abuse is a huge problem that needs to be discussed openly and respectfully in our communities.

We should open up a debate and invite individuals come forward talking about this issue. I guess we do not like to open the can of worms, still the decision is not ours, it is expected of us to do the right thing.

We need to educate our health professionals, our doctors, our nurses and our educators about the devastation of this issue.

We do not talk about sex in our Persian culture. This is a topic that needs clarification, discussion, and education. We can only be authentic and admit that, it is going to take a long time for our Persian culture to start talking about this issue and other problems around sexuality.

If we do not educate our children, we let them be open to exploitation and harm. In our Persian culture we have been forced to silent a long time, it is now time to change that killing silent; it is time to talk about what is an open topic in western cultures.

This topic is one of the hundreds of other topics that need to come to our cultural agenda. When would that be possible? It is hard to say.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles June 21,2008 by this author.

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One Major Essay – Our Life Story

Each one of us has to write a major life story essay. What do I mean? Let me explain. Our Iranian culture has to share stories that help out our next generations to value what we are coming from. Every cultural group has to be able to share their experiences and life changing events with their next generations.

Our children can only make informed decisions in the future by knowing about our experiences.

There is one major essay each one of us is requested to write. The requirement is a discourse, a concept that our future generations are going to create.

This is a place where our shared beliefs and common interests will be evaluated in the intersection of our mistakes and life experiences. This is where we will be evaluated and discussed by our next generations. This is what history is about.

Our children, our grandchildren and our next generations will look back and wonder why in the world their previous generations did not do more to protect them from the harmful events that are happening in our history. This is the same dilemma we have right now, why our past generations did not inform us of how our fragile and vulnerable our culture was.

For sure, all the documentaries, movies, books, and accumulated electronic based data are doing this work for us. Still, each one of us is a living book.

There is a huge number of untold stories that we Iranian need to tell in order to get the truth come forward. Right now we may be confused and embarrassed about situations we have to endure. At the same time we are handling many balls in the air, an ability that make us survivors.

We owe our children the story of our lives, to let our next generation learn from our mistakes as well as our many rich experiences.

The amount of events that has made our Iranian life what it is now is too overwhelming, too painful, and too enmeshed to describe with one single essay. In any case we have to do this.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles August 2,2008 by this author.

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Jokes and Racism – In Our Iranian Culture

Have you ever noticed that our daily life’s activities and hobbies could sound ill-mannered and hurtful to other people? Have you ever meet people who get offended by jokes, even though we all say those jokes are just for being funny?

There is a huge relationship between jokes and latent racism among us; again I am talking about us as a group, as Iranian people. You many now get offended saying why am I in the world calling us racist?

No, I am not doing that.

What I try to say is that in every culture, there are external factors in our lives that are hard to make sense of, why we make jokes of them. There are also internal wishes, dreams, hopes, and desires which can be expressed in our Iranian culture in the content of jokes. It is easy then to say: “I am joking”, “I did not mean it”.

As a matter of fact, what we say, there is a meaning behind it. We choose words that make sense to us based on what we intend to say. Jokes are not always Jokes. We many times mean what we say, although we may not be brave enough to acknowledge that.

There is a relationship between jokes and racism. I really hope that researchers could use this topic one day as there must be a connection out there.

With racism, we mean ideas which are used as an indication of disliking, judging, belittling, or demising individuals, groups, nations, and others.

Many times we engage in racial comments based on our biased opinions without meaning to be racist or judgmental towards others.

Just think of what our communication in a regular day looks like: We meet people, talk, eat, walk, and tell jokes.

Jokes belong to our everyday lives; we tell jokes in every context, at work and at home, here and there. We tell jokes at the dinner table, at parties, via the Internet, in our phone conversations, and even during meetings within our communities.

We may ask, “What is wrong with that?”

Some aspects of this culture of joke-telling as a social activity have hurt many people.

Many of our jokes are placing different races, ethnic groups, and families into categories, where no one wants to be placed. You are questioning this, let’s talk more.

Most of our jokes have sexual contents. Now you would say how else would a joke be?

Let us ask: Why are our jokes sexualized and racially motivated?

Why do our jokes lean toward dehumanizing, devaluing, and unfair criticism certain groups and especially women?

What is so “funny” about these jokes anyway? How can we picture our family and friends be the character of those jokes? Those jokes we say usually talks about real people with real ethnical background. We know that for sure.

Our jokes start with someone from an ethnic background who is either dumb, perverted, or an abuser, and he does or says “funny” things in order to make a point. Each one of us knows at least a dozen of jokes, where women are sex objects and men having the first role and being the active player, are the abuser.

How many jokes have we heard where children are being molested by the man from ‘some’ city and ‘……..’?

How many jokes do we know where women or children are slaves for many things? Sometimes the character does things that sound “funny,” yet most of the time, by what we are saying, we victimize someone or some group.

Don’t you think these jokes have other, hidden functions and that they project something else into our culture?

How about considering having some dignity and stopping telling these types of jokes?

How about being brave and admit why do we need to tell these jokes?

Some people complain about “white” people being racist; We have to explain how we are NOT racists ourselves by constantly telling sexist, racist, and de-humanizing jokes.

There are many, many websites created by our “funny” people and they are having “fun” by spreading this germ of racist and sexist jokes.

How about to use our humanistic eyes and value people? We can still make jokes of many things and situations? We have a tendency to be most active Joke makers!

Being funny is different that disrespecting people. Being funny can happen in the realm of respect and dignity.

Racial jokes indeed reflect a dismantled hatred and segregation. These jokes only and only increase the already existing conflicts.

Jokes are our words, words are our thoughts, our thoughts are our beliefs, and our beliefs reflect our inner world. We should be more careful with what we say and how we say it!

Being funny can occur in the realm of admiration and protection of others’ rights! We live in a world where we already suffer from the anxiety of the words that are creating harm and hate. We need to redefine our needs for joke telling.

With the current trends as Stand Up-Comedians, we could learn more how to polish our jokes. Using critical eyes into our culture and identity is positive in order to create a dialog. However what we do we call groups for names and we make it believable that this or other group are careless, sexualized, or futile people. We tend to believe that certain accents are funny and we have the right to laugh at those accents. We also tend to use certain accents involved in every joke we say. We hurt people who have those accents. They are not less than us; we are naive to suppose that.

We have heard many complaints from our fellow Iranians talking about the prejudice, isolation, hostility, and racism that are time by time being felt or perceived in these Western countries we reside in. If we criticize others for having judgment about us, why do we continue telling the jokes that are destroying many souls and much trust among our own ethical groups?

Social hostility, social isolation, and prejudice have found a natural way into our language as we use jokes about various ethnic groups.

Social hostility is constructed by those who need to control others. This social hostility creates more fragile beliefs, broken hearts, and exposed individuals.

We need to clean our cultural language if we wish to remain whole.

We need to bring peace into our language, into our communication, into our families, into our communities, and eventually, hopefully into our Iranian way of living.

For decades these jokes have caused social hostility, which destroys respect, trust, kindness, communication, and relationships.

Jokes make us be “Us” and “Them!” We do need to be “Us,” in order to survive the destruction of our Iranian culture.

In our fragile world we hide behind facades of status, family type, wealth, and all other masks we like to use.

The sense of isolation for a group creates distance and contrasts with others, by becoming different than the other!

Do not let jokes become those walls.

Think about those individuals who isolate themselves in a group of people by establishing a specific language or behavior to show how they are better than others, nobler than others, and have more “class” than others.

For many individuals using jokes brings this feeling that they come from a different planet. Joke-telling in this way causes social hostility as a natural way for some individuals to elevate themselves.

Sometimes we do aim for being funny by telling those jokes yet we ignore how much impact it has on many souls around us.

Some groups or individuals use jokes as an element of social isolation, as a defense mechanism to mark the differences in social class, religion, race, and nations.

Isolation and conflict go hand in hand with a resolution into “nothing.”

We know how many various ethnic groups of us feel socially isolated as our ethnic background has been subject to racist and sexist jokes. We have already a history of many forms of discrimination and segregation. We do not need any more of this.

In using racist jokes we try to find superiority by using a latent antagonism, to set one group against another in order to command and to satisfy our own personal vanity.

Racist and sexist jokes could be “practical” for those of us who try to achieve the goal of becoming superior!

We cannot afford to let hostility become our way. Not again!

Prejudice and hostility are about how we naturally have the tendency to be willing to degrade others in order to elevate ourselves, nations towards nations, groups towards groups and so on.

If we do not like to be treated differently then we need to stop telling these jokes as they cause prejudice and hostility among our nation.

We need to stop this trend! Now or it will be too late. Stay away from these jokes if you are human being.
Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles June 21,2008 by this author.

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Our Jewish Teacher

Back in Tehran, school year of 1970-1973, I had an elementary teacher known as Mrs. Jewish teacher. This teacher was obviously Jewish and she was called by her religion. It is incredible how we recall labels and not names. I guess dividing people due to race, religion, and ethnicity has always been around in my home country. Without a doubt we never called our teachers by their name, only with a title: Mr. or Mrs. Teacher.

In the hierarchy of power, teachers had their own ladder in that top to down human relationship. Respecting teachers was not only encouraged but it was part of the package that enforced a more fear based respect. Blind obedience was definitely part of this package.

Our Mrs. Jewish teacher happened to be living in the same neighborhood as I did, in fact just a couple of houses away from mine. Walking by her house I always wondered how she lived her life. In school we used to have our own fantasies about our teachers, whether they disciplined their own children or whether they eat the same kind of food as we did. Our childish imaginations had no borders.

Our Mrs. Jewish teacher was really a nice lady. I guess I recall her because I used to feel good to be in her neighbourhood. She used to encourage her students to write neatly and to keep their school books clutter free. Although our parents paid for the school books, this teacher frequently asked us to donate the books at the end of the school year to the school. The contributed books would be given to the next year students from less income families.

At some point, our Jewish teacher did encourage us to look beyond that little donation. She taught us to recycle our note books. In those days note books and writing materials in general were real commodity, a type of luxury that our parents did not have in their childhood. My parents used to make statements about how they were unable to imagine having those fancy writing material. Back in their time paper was a luxury itself, if now note books were for us. They meant to say that we were getting spoiled while going to school was a battle in their time.

I knew implicitly that not all children could afford those fancy 40 pages or 60 pages note books. My own cousins living in a small village south of Iran could not even attend school, because school was itself an extravagance is small rural villages. Thinking back now, those note books did not cost more than a penny still the culture of recycling was dynamic aspect of our school work.

In the commencement of school year we would receive a long list of specifically required school materials such as books, paper packs, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, and even uniforms. The note books we had to have, been sold in the stores in form of 40, 60, and 100 pages lined note books. I recall how the list was exciting for us children, yet, not for our parents.

Our Jewish teacher would tell us that we could erase all the scribbles in our old note books from previous years and reuse those papers. Even she would give us ideas that we could use the extra pages left at the end of the note books that belonged to either us or our siblings. For those children who did not want to take the extra work of erasing pages and pages of pencil scribbled papers, she would ask them to donate the notebooks to her.

I guess she would think that some other children whose parents were poor might want to do that extra effort in order to have access to some school martial, although second hand. I am not sure how she would approach those parents about her genius ideas on recycling note books, however she did teach us that we could always be considering others who are less privileged. I guess I recall this story now because recycling is a big issue for our overpopulated world. We have to learn to reuse and to use our resources carefully. It is both healthy and thoughtful.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles February 13. 2009 by this author.

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This is What Happend to Iran, Story of US

Hostage Taking of a Nation

My home country has been taking as hostage. This is not a new incident. Thirty years has gone by without any real acknowledgment of this invasion. The safety of the world was endangered just because of this silent invasion of my home country. No one cared and no one noticed, but us. We had no voice then and we still don’t. However we will not let go.

The invasion occurred by those who said they were sent by god. They changed the notion of religion forever, at least for us Iranians. They have been persistent in creating misery. Our free will is in prison; at least it has been there past thirty years. Every time we opposed they tighten the ropes of control on our necks. We got scared of claiming our rights. We chocked due to the chaos.

Iran as a country has been taken hostage by people who are against happiness and joy. Millions of us had to relocate, flee, leave, and disconnect due to the level of fear these people created. Millions of us became victims of this hostile hostage taking inside our home country. A few circle of applauding supporters have got the best deal in this invasion. The rest of the nation is on its own. How about is the psychological damage to these victims? Well, many books are to be written in addition to few words that has been said by now. The damage is not known yet. Generations to come will wonder what happened.

What these hostage takers wanted? They demanded us to replace our home country for a hallucinated ideology, our culture for illusions, and our life for melancholy. Partly they have succeeded. Partly we Iranian, although we are hurt and impacted badly, still we cannot and will not let go.

Hostage taking of our home country did not occur only in a physical format. The unfolding events during past thirty years resulted to the psychological and political invasion of people’s homes, minds, and beliefs.

They took control over our lives in zero time. We were dis empowered in no time. Hostage takers got us all in their net, one by one. This was what they wanted.

Just to refresh our minds, we can look at the Personality traits and character of hostage takers. They are usually hostile, violent, hateful, inflexible, rigid, dangerous, out of control, and inappropriate.

The hostage takers use variety of methods to get what they want.

They start with threatening, intimidating, creating crisis, requesting submission, and acting violent, all and all in order to get the power over their victims.

The private logic of hostage takers is that if they get what they want, then they are no longer losers. They will overcome their own feeling of inferiority. They will compensate for what they do not have, knowledge, sophistication, and compassion.

Victim rights are never ever the concern of the hostage takers, why should it be?

Some more conscientious hostage takers promise to set victims free if and when they get the ransoms they are seeking. However, promises could be only worthless words and gestures. Gaining power and attention is the main concept when someone or a group of people act as the owner of the victims. This is what we Iranian experience, clearly.

The real illusion is that we start believing our hostage takers. The real damage is that we start identifying with our hostage takers. We hallucinate that they have the capacity for change or reform.

These wild people would only hurt us more if we believe them. Promises of the hostage takers of my home country were never real and will not be believed. Question is when and under what circumstances these hostage takers or better say criminals will give up this crazy act. The problem is that they have nowhere to go. We Iranian are doomed to negotiate with our hostage takers, to let them to keep the change of billions they have already received as ransoms, and to ask them to leave us alone. How would this be done as peaceful as possible? Well, I do not know.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles June 9, 2008 by this author.

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Limits To Stupidity

Have you noticed how many times we hear the comment: “Oh, don’t be stupid.” We can be sure that at times we make bad choices and even we make stupid decisions.

However, there is stupidity and stupidity, we will look at the underlying meaning of what can be called a stupid action. I guess we need to notice how the format, shape, and context of our stupid thoughts, actions, and behaviors influencing our every day life.

Each detail can create numerous problems involving people around us. Our problem solving skills sometimes show the level of our stupidity or in another words our reasoning.

Now let’s be clear, we do not want to belittle individuals who make human mistakes. No, I am talking about those individuals who continue acting as if they know everything. These later group of individuals isolate and protect their stupid minds in most rigid ways. They operate based on lack of social interest and lack of care for others.

If we could measure stupidity, we would see that this later group cause most human suffering and environmental hazards. How? Well, we can only contemplate on this topic a bit more.

In my mind, stupidity of rigid and careless people enhance misery for many others. What I am talking about?

We Iranian or for sure many of us, know what stupidity is about. We have seen thousands of examples every day of our past thirty years of life. We hear all those stupid comments about every single thing concerning our human life. We have experienced the bitter result of all those stupid ideas and actions that only cripples us badly. For many of us Iranian, even if we choose, we are unable to skip hearing those stupid words, meanings, stories, and death motivated interactions.

We Iranian who follow the news about our home country, hear everyday all those stupid rules that worsen life in general for everyone. We read and hear news about how women, children, families, and individuals are being harassed because there is no limit to the nonsense and stupid ideas that are being practiced by some stupid people.

I guess most of these stupid people do not know of their invaluable skill in producing stupid comments, rules, action plans, and laws. Why would they know? They are stupid and careless. Why would they care how their stupid concepts hurt people? How would they know that their hold on to a power that is perceived as holy, is stupid? Stupid people do not know that their crisis minded thoughts and actions, do impact individual and environment. Why would they care? They are stupid. However now the question is why those who are logical and know better still let stupid people rule? It is important to emphasize that stupidity is not an excuse. We all should be accountable for our actions, stupid or not.

We Iranian know many of these stupid people who will not let us be in peace, because they are stupid enough to think that we are stupid too. What do i mean by stupid? Well, all the nonsense talks when we have important topics to discuss. Sometimes you wonder what is the limit to stupidity? How much more? How long more?

It is certainly my belief that healthy communication is the main step toward rebuilding what has been destroyed over decades.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles February 13, 2009 by this author.

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Prayers for Peace

Dear God:

You know that we Iranian people are working hard to make sense of the unfolding events back home that hurt our souls constantly

You know that we are trying to comprehend the tyranny forced upon us, the bemoaning culture put on our shoulders, and the intricate retrogression

You know that we are fearful about the continuum of the miserable and much complex life back home

You know that we are deeply worried about the hardships caused by some rigid, impenetrable, and complicated people who are willing to sacrifice more human life for the sake of ideology

You know that we are suffering as a nation and as individuals, that we are tired of the embezzlement and wretchedness of those who are careless and those whose actions are harming us excessively

You know that our people are in emotional and spiritual pain, that our home country is in pain, therefore we pray for peace in Iran, the region back there, and the world,

You know that we need to remain hopeful, optimistic, and joyful, happy, and grateful for the things that we have and do not have.

Please God:

Enlighten those who are precluding joyful life in Iran and around the world

Strengthen us to embody humanism and humanity

Enforce kindness in those cheerful of power and reinforce trust for those without

Let us use reasoning, wisdom, and logic

Provide us with love, compassion, and passion for the mother earth

Let us appreciate freedom, choice, humility, and pride

Allow our children inherit laughter, tears, and healing

give us the courage to forgive and be forgiven

encourage us to learn be happy again

Let us rise above and beyond for those in need

and eventually let us grow both inside and outside

Sincerely and always grateful

All of us and the rest of us…

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/1543560

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles September 30,2008 by this author.

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Persian Male Culture

In December 2009, I received a letter from a reader who explained that she needed to understand the misbehavior (stalking and harassment) by her Iranian boyfriend. Not being proud of this to say, the explained misbehavior is however rather a normal behavior in the male culture that many of our boys are being raised in. Having been eager to explore this topic more in depth, now i only touch on one aspect of this problem with misbehavior of our male.

The complex problem with stalking and harassment by this “Iranian’ male sounded frustrating and complicated to deal with. First of all, the issue of harassment and stalking has neither has anything to do with nationality, nor it is related to one sex or one group of people, this is part of the emotional, psychological, and mental health issues that some individuals are suffering from.

At the same time, it was clear that this man like other stalkers had hard time to accept “No” as an answer. Sadly, “No” to these harassers / stalkers mean the fall down of their world because they are badly obsessed and possessive of their female partners.

Who are these stalkers really? I am sure there are enough of studies and research about this topic, , still in my humble opinion stalkers are totally discouraged people whose actions are hurting people and damaging relationships.  

Clearly, harassment is not a problem that can be solved this easily; it takes willingness and a cultural shift; however oppression leaves no room for openness and understanding. Oppressive male culture has to be analyzed by our new generation of young male and females who are fighting for a peaceful change. 

Now back to the comment on the Middlepeace website, the one that I am responding to now; many men in all cultures have the fear of rejection, a reason for them to pursue their thoughts with rigidity, try to convince the partner to stay, and act weird as they do.

Stalking and harassment could be rooted in a male dominated patriarchy, still mental health issues that these individuals are dealing with can not be underestimated. So before the problem belongs to a certain culture, we should see it from a bigger perspective which is the need for family education and relationship health.

It is significant to realize how these individuals view their own world and how their constructs are formed. Thus, the fact is that there is a huge need to challenge the Persian male culture as well as the oppressive male culture.

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Shahnameh – This Magnificent Piece of Testimony From the 10th Century

How could we Iranians miss Shahnameh? How have we Iranians and non-Iranians not learned from Shahnameh? How come Shahameh is not taught in every single school around the world? Why is this book not translated into every single language in the world?

These are the questions that anyone knowing about this great, magnificent, gigantic, and significant historic testimony called: Shahnameh, the Epic of the Kings, would ask. The quality of care for our human world is the main concept that can be learned from this marvelous story of life from the past.

What does this book symbolizes? Well, Story telling has a deep root in our Iranian culture, something that has helped our ancient culture survive all the attacks. Language is basically the heart of a culture, something that will survive along with a resilient culture. The art of story telling is most certainly passed down to us by Shahnameh. Geseh or saga assists us in making sense of the presence. How? Perhaps by realizing that the key to any problem is within us, we could make sense of what is occurring for us now. Stories tell us about how other people used their inner wisdom and inner strength to overcome challenges. Telling story for thousands of years has been the only way to transfer knowledge and information to next generations. Shahnameh, The Epic of the King is the best gathering of stories from one thousand years ago. In our childhood if we had the chance of hearing our grandparents reading stories from the Shahnameh, then we remember how we dreamed of becoming those great and brave heroes. Stories in Shahnameh describes life of many characters who can still be found in our real life.

Acknowledging and understanding this metaphoric communication that Shahnameh has taught us Iranians, we can recognize the the impact of childhood stories we have heard. Act of kindness, bravery, heoric actions, love for the mother earth, respect for animals and plants, hard work, and justice was only some of those values that Shahnameh tells us. I am sure we have not learned much from Shahnameh because our world is what it is today. Yet we should keep up the hope and relearn what was put together in this book for us. Now it is time we do this for our children. Even in our adult life we tell stories about various incidents every day.

People’s narratives tell us something important. We can understand the individual’s self-belief and perceptions through the lens of narratives. Families teach children this special social skill by telling them stories of how life looked like in their time. Now it is time for us to re-learn from Shahnameh and teach that to our children. I really wish Shahnameh would be taught in every single school in our world. Is it too selfish to wish?

My main interest is mental health and healthy relationship. I write mostly about how to explore mental health as a main source of having peace within our families and our communities.

I would like to promote peace, happiness, multicultural counseling and a healthy language in our daily life. I believe that we have to expand our understanding of mental health by viewing the cultural values into our ways of dealing with the world.

I like to emphasize on helping our youth as well as our next generations to integrate within whatever cultures they live in.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles May 2, 2009 by this author.

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Ali Divaneh


This story goes back to life in Tehran. With some calculations it must have been 1969-1970. I was in grade one or two. Those of us, who lived in Behbodi-shademan Street in Tehran, may recall this character.

In the commencement of the school time around First of Mehr, there were rumors going on. We heard that we had a “divaneh/crazy” man in our neighborhood who tend to behave inappropriately in front of children. Some of us were most curious to see how this man looked like. A few of us could see him in the porches and corners of the street. I think in my fantasy I visualized him as a very scary man, most probably due to the stories being told about him. I am not sure.

This man was known for his noticeable mental health issues. People called and referred to him as Ali-divaneh. The public attribution as divaneh is still common among us Iranian, we give people labels that is hard for them to get off it. Divaneh had become this individual’s last name and it was sad.

One day in a strange way, I met this guy as a human being. Until that day I had no idea how a “crazy” person looked like.

It was a warm and sunny day in fall, when a new breeze was in the air. In our daily path to school we could see the changes of the season.

One day around lunch time, something strange happened. Ali-divaneh just walked into our living room in our first floor apartment in a two story building. At that time and around noon in every neighborhood of our city, Tehran, there was a symphony of lovely, loud, and cheerful sound of kids who were coming or going to school. I guess Ali-divaneh missed being part of those childish and happy experiences.

He entered into our living room while we had no idea of his intention for this visit. My mother had made a delicious food as usual as I recall and we were just having our first bites. As he walked in I could tell that my mother was shocked and a bit uncomfortable, however, she managed to keep calm. Ali-divaneh was a tall guy in his mid twenties or early thirties. With him coming in as an uninvited guest, my mother tried to pretend that we had a guest. She gently asked Ali divaneh if he wanted some food. He shook his head very slightly visible. My mother quickly put a plate of food in front of him. Soon before we knew, our guest was eating. He looked hungry and he ate as much as he could as quick as he could. As he was swallowing big chunk of food, we started to get a sense that he was no threat to us, he was only hungry. He ate while looking at each one of us. I guess he was wishing that he had a family like ours. His eyes were telling us stories that we could not understand at that time. In no time, he had emptied his plate and with no word to say, he exited from that door he had entered in. He was gone and we sat down stunned.

Now looking back I could see that he was in a defense mood while he was eating. I guess he was ready to take off if he felt unwelcome. He had a poor hygiene, still, nothing unbearable. I remember his large black eye, his long eyelashes, and his innocent face.

He came and disappeared, he left me with many questions as a child. My mother blamed me for having left the entrance door wide open since I had just arrived from school. That was possible, yet, there were no time for any confessions or any excuses. That evening when my father came home, I heard my mother reporting to him: “Ali-divaneh came for lunch.” Later on I realized that some kind ladies like my mother, they did take time to offer Ali-divaneh food once he showed up. I guess Ali knew where to go when he was hungry.

After that day, I never asked my mother what she thought of this incident. How was that she was not scared of a stranger just walking into our home, how come she offered him food and how did she knew he was hungry.

I am still wondering what Ali-divaneh thought that day, whether he had gone to other peoples house like this, and whether he would always be treated nicely.

We could see Ali divaneh most of the days in one porch or another. He seemed to enjoy the sound of happy children who could go home for a warm lunch. He seemed to be nice most of the times, he laughed and he made funny noises. We did not know what was wrong with this guy.

In my childish mind I used to imagine whether Ali-divaneh was a regular guy who only missed having nice people around. Maybe his family had disowned him because he was divaneh. I was wondering how come he did not have his own home with warm food and nice clothes. I had many questions that could not be answered by anyone. We did not know about him more than the rumors. We neither knew about mental health issues and the cause for that, nor did we know about the treatment of people with mental health issues. I remember that Ali-divaneh was bullied a lot, people made fun of him and I know that he knew he was not being treated with respect.

Instinctively I could connect his mental health issues with lack of family life, respect, and dignity. A couple of years later, while I was in secondary school, again, we were hearing stories of Ali-divaneh and his inappropriate behaviors. I remember my girl friends were saying that they had seen him in a corner close to our school while he was trying to show his male organ to he girls. Once the word was spread, our school principal intervened. I was sure that once again Ali-divaneh was trying to say, that he needed help, that he needed to belong, that he needed people care for him. I am not sure what happened subsequently. Somehow the school principal and teachers were able to keep him distant from our school as we did not hear of him again. That was the last time I heard of Ali-divaneh.

Notice that Ali-divaneh was a male. The reason that his story gets to be told is that he was visible and out there, even though he was known as being “divaneh.” Girls in his condition would be kept invisible and unheard of. Who knows?

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles October 6, 2008 by this author.

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