Culture is Our Only Weapon

Culture is the implicit and explicit manifestation of our shared values, ideas, belief systems, and identity. Our Iranian culture has always been part of what we do, how we think, how we behave, and how we feel.

After three decades of living in paradoxes, we Iranian (many of us) are now learning gradually to respect our shared culture with celebrating it proudly.

Slowly but constantly we are trying to set aside our personal and biased opinions to the benefit of participating around a greater truth, the truth of co-existence. We are conceptualizing our own history with baby steps and learning to appreciate our past instead of condoning it. The external circumstances about our home country however make us doubt what we do and who we are.

We Iranians are aware of the call for a change however; this change has to happen within us, in each one of us. This is a unique historic period we find ourselves in as we are shifting, experiencing, forming, and reforming our culture and our identity. We have to be brave to recognize our areas of strength and weaknesses.

Change is about discovering and building a healthy identity, a sense of belonging, and a sense of partnership.

After three decades and many chapters of life in migration we (many of us) have started to realize that fighting does not work. We lost our mind once we lost our tolerance. We already experience the damages of lack of tolerance and our lives have been impacted deeply because of this issue. Now it is time to really learn who we are.

We share experiences of internalized discrimination and externalized dislocation, while we are sincerely noticing our own culture, something that has been passed on to us for over two thousand year; The culture of celebrations and appreciations of health, happiness, and prosperity.

Our cultural attitudes are now crossing the intersections of our Iranian lives. The culture of respect and love for our nature is part of what we celebrate as Nouroz; the love for spring, for sun shine, for fire, for water, for flowers, for new birth, and for mother earth.

We experience our culture more than ever; just look around and see how many of us participate in various events. Everywhere we are we celebrate our festivities with the support of the freedom we experience in countries we live in. There are many reasons to be grateful for the level of acknowledgment of our shared culture, the Persian culture that has survived and will survive all the attacks of those who blindly are opposing it.

Now more than ever, we are appreciating our culture as being a tool for us, not an excuse. We are now noticing that the only weapon we have is our culture.

We need this weapon to fight the darkness that the enemies of happiness try to cover us with. We have got only our culture to survive with, to be part of the future, and to continue endlessly.

The time around February and March every year, we usually witness several cultural events that we Iranian participate in. This happens everywhere we are, we tend to find resources to keep up our traditions.

We may agree that all these congregations of our Iranian population articulate the notion of dignity, cultural appreciation, and respectful maneuvers for who we are and who we have lost to be.

These gatherings for no means represent a unified culture just because we Iranian are multicultural and multi-ethnical groups of people, however it is part of a greater social context, the survival of a culture.

The audience and the participants of all these events share their joy with the others who are interested and the history.

These festivities and celebration give us the time and the opportunity to validate, to acknowledge, and to appreciate Iranian culture and Iranian living, around the world. We need more well-planned plays, dances, poetry-nights, literature review, and all kind of gathering as a real proof for the strength of a culture that has been under attack for centuries.

We should inspire ourselves and our next generations with facilitating open and healthy conversations about what is the most important aspect of being Iranian, the sense of encouragement that comes with spring and our new year.

Close to the March 21st every year we Iranian around the world look forward to join one or several festivities and ceremonies where a large group of us celebrate Iranian new years. This event has a clear message, an exceptional acknowledgment of our Iranian way of living which is based on socialization with others. The sense of appreciation and recognition of who we are does come with how we are trying to be part of the life within every community we live.

If our own government works hard to make life a miserable ground for its citizens, everywhere we Iranian are, outside of our home country we are being appreciated for the hard working and creative group of people we undeniably are.

The notion of acknowledgment for who we are, not what we do, this is the clear message that we should protect and pass on. These celebrations are emphasizing how we need to appreciate life and culture as if it is going to end tomorrow. This is what life should be about, living in the moment. Our culture has always been a here and now concept, yet, we have been dragged to look back instead of looking forward.

Now it is time to change. Our Iranian New Year is about the New Year, the new days, and the new life that is growing with spring.

It is significant to value our Persian heritage and our culturally significant Iranian new year as a notion of peace. Our ancestors did go visit people whom they had not seen for a long time, as a way of making peace with those whom they disliked or disagreed with.

Fire Jumping or Chahar-Shanbe-sori is also another significant event that many of us participate in every year.

On this day everywhere we are, there is a sort of excitement in the air. Our Chahar-shanbe-sori is one of those main events we have to look at closely. The last Tuesday evening of the Iranian year is the time of the year that we appreciate fire bones and fire. Traditionally, we Iranian ask the fire to offer us its healthy look, its warmth, and its strength. This evening on the last Tuesday night of the year, last week before March 21st is the live play of many of our Iranian men and women, young as old, which comes out to jump over fire and to say that they are still alive.

This gathering is the perfect proof that a culture can not be killed or censured, a culture is alive once people stand on their two feet.

Every year this gathering happens around the world in harmony, peace, congruency, and artfully.

Young children as well as elderly people all leap over the bone fires while wishing health and happiness from the fire. One asks for the redness of the fire while giving one’s paleness of to the fire. This happens while the fire does accept our paleness with no complaint. The fire has the strength to remove our paleness with its own redness. The beauty of this event is the powerful bonfires that light our life and give hope to the masses.

This event as many of other cultural gatherings are the proof for our collective desire, that we love to be happy and we love to be alive.

Every year, watching these ceremonies with a participant-observant position, I keep thinking that we should keep up this good work of passing on this notion of health and happiness to our next generations.

This is about a nation in change, re-evaluation, and refreshing of their culture. Culture is the only weapon we have and we are doomed to keep it alive. We have no other choice.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticlesJune 16th, 2008 by this author.

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