Monthly Archives: May 2011

Democracy on a Silver Plate

Democracy is like a good meal, a satisfying meal that makes you burp. If you feel happy with your meal it is most certainly that you want more of it. This good food makes you sit straight and get excited. A good meal is made of all the organic and quality raw ingredients. The taste of your food would be the most appetizing one, still this food should culturally be digestible.

It is not only preparing this meal, it is about serving it and it is about how people see this food being adequate to their cravings of that day. One of the major points of going to a restaurant is that you are being served properly. Having your food in a nice plate makes the food look tastier, a silver plate, well; it gives the food more of a cultural value.

In contrast to how food on a silver plate can increase the value of the moment, democracy can not be served on such a plate. The all-you-can-eat version of this meal, if it is called Democracy has to be cooked accordingly to each nation taste and aptitudes. A real buffet gives you the option of choosing your own favorite meal. You can eat all you want if you desire. Still, you enjoy that food when the look and the taste are more congruent to your culturally based values.
A real problem is that when we have aptitude for food, but we do not have the good components or we do not know the art of mixing ingredients together. Another challenge is that when we tell people to cook the same food as we did. With all the best cook books and the instructions for how-to-cook your-own-food, sometimes our recipe is not accordingly to the social context of the individuals.

We have to consider the right tools for our cooking instructions. What is significant is that a meal and the details around preparing that food, has to be established and rooted in a culture.

Democracy can neither be served on a silver plate, nor will it taste good when it is not an internalized, familiar, and known taste.

We can not burp on an unfamiliar taste because we are not really digesting that food. We digest a food and we enjoy it, when we have been part of providing for all aspects of preparation and completion of that food. We value things that we are part of creating it. This is our human nature, we are born to create our own food and destiny.

In every culture we use various spices and flavors. No one would enjoy a food that is not having the culturally appropriate texture, consistency, and nutritional properties. Once you are a good gardener and you raise your own vegetable, cooking your own food with your own ingredients is the most enjoyable activity.

In our new world and the new trend, we talk about healthy and nutritious food. It is perhaps healthy to first learn to create your own unique recipe that can result in a good food based on your reality and expectations. This is the only way we can have appetite for Democracy as food.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles July 29, 2008 by this author.

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Iranian Life Management Over the Phone

We Iranian are indebted to the founder(s) of the telephone as a communication tool or technique.

How would our life in migration look like without the phone?

With the new developments of the Internet and the new world of technology we Iranian should really appreciate all those people who are working to give us the chance to call home.
What do I mean? Calling home means calling to Iran, contacting our loved ones, and communicating with those whom our life are intertwined with.

Once in a while we have those phone calls which we wish we did not have. small or big requests from our families and relatives back home, who seem to think that we have carpets of dollar bills in our homes and if we want we could share a piece of that carpet with them. Many of us are scared of phone calls when we can not afford those requests, not to mention that we are unable to say no, and no does not always mean no for some of our families back home.

All the calls that make us to get emotional in this side of line because the longings, the dilemmas, and the injuries of migration are being expressed. Sometimes these phone calls save lives and sometimes it pushes people to the edge of craziness or self-hatred. We tend to be unaware of the impact of our spoken words even over the phone line.

Sometime we have calls that are for very good reasons. Phone calls to those we care about and those whom we like to hear their voice, a familiar voice that appears to understand us, and a voice that can validate our feelings.

We call because we need to share our life experiences with our loved ones or hear about their well-being Phone calls are truly part of our daily life, our Iranian daily life.

All the love calls from people who are marrying over the line of communication and over the phone calls for the arrangements. All the promises, words of love, encouragements, threats, interests, and plans that we Iranian pass down to the people on the other side of this long phone cord. And all the constructive and destructive conversations we have with our people back home, all and all these are constructs that challenge our lives every single day.

The impact of phone calls in our Iranian life are numerous and if we want to recognize them it takes books after books to be written.

However, it is important to identify some of the impacts which make our life miserable, different, unstable, and overwhelmed. There is a notion of not having any boundaries that make our lives vulnerable, nevertheless over a phone call. the impact depends on how long we have lived out of Iran, how fresh is our contacts, how much need there is out there for maintaining the contacts with people back home. There is no definite format for the impacts of phone calls in our Iranian life.

Certainly we can name many areas of our Iranian existence that are being handled over the phone with our loved ones back home.

Perhaps we can only look at one aspect at the time. How about marriage?

We are all familiar with those marriage issues that are being handled over phone calls with parents back home who try to intervene once conflict and marital issues are significant.

The topic of marriage therapy is fairly new in our Iranian culture. Couples have traditionally learned to discuss disagreements, challenges, and conflicts with elders.

Now the life in migration makes people use the phone to have someone to hear their issues in the marriage. The same as many marriages in the first place happened within the permission territory of our parents, divorce and separation has to also be (sometimes) confirmed or at least recognized by them.

We Iranian usually like to give advice, even to our adult children. Some parents although not knowing the circumstances in which their adult children live in, they do not hesitate to dictate what is right or wrong, good or bad, proper or improper.

There are many stories that many of us Iranian discern about how parents are influential in the life of their children, even over the line of telephone. There are some astonishing stories, true ones though, when a mother back home tells a son here in North America, whom to marry and what to do with their life.

It is incredible that many people can help their inability to make decisions by involving parents or relatives back home who have no idea about the actuality of life here in our communities we live in.

Not to mention that, many decisions about divorce, separation, news about educational successes, loss of friendships, or gain of new relationships are constantly being communicated to- with people back home.

This is certainly a sign for how our Iranian life in migration is still new and fresh. As much as we are trying to integrate into our new communities we manage to keep contacts, although very superficial ones with people back home.

With people I mean, parents, siblings, cousins, and friends. also all those contacts to government officials back home when some one on this side of the continent is trying to buy, sell, rent, or lease their properties.

It seems that arrangements or conflicts in our new lives are being handled by the taste of our old way of curing wounds.

Remember those years, whenever we had any wonderful, exciting, and rewarding situation we would run to our parents home or to those who would love to hear our stories. Now in our newly migrated life we may not have those people around us. Where do we turn to? We may call a person who is willing and interested to listen to us.

Over the phone we share many life experiences, stories, attachment issues and thoughts that are in need of being explored.

This reality is sometimes overwhelming in its nature, once we do not have any audience who can listen to us here wherever we live in; we pick up the phone to use our old patterns.
However, the painful reality is that our life and our circumstances have changed our life is never the same as when we lived back home. Many times our Iranian families who feel being isolated or alienated from their communities, they get stressed out about the unmet expectations in their new life. Phone calls may or may not help them at this point. The reality of life has to be looked at.

With or without phone calls, however we need to find meanings in our new lives, to view family rituals, roles, goals, and symbols in the light of our new realities. Surely, our family tasks and reunions at the end of the day, have changed.
Nothing is the same; we have to accept, to learn, and to cope. We still have the options of calling home, this is the least we can do when we need to hear some familiar voices. The good news is that phone calls these days are cheap compare to even twenty years ago, when many of us paid huge amount of money to phone calls, once we could not afford anything else. Now at least we do not pay that much money, yet, the quality of phone conversations and the reasons for the calls are the same. We care and we keep contact.

Life in migration with the new technology and computerized calling systems are really much easier today. We should appreciate this great aspect of our Iranian life, phone calls.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles July 18, 2008by this author.

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Iranian Parenting

Academic education is valued highly in our Iranian culture. The notion of being someone with university degrees is a yearning that involves many factors such as status, position, opportunities, labels, and power.

The education systems that we Iranians come from is strictly competition and ranked based while there are no focus on the applicability of that knowledge in the real world.

As a clinical counsellor, I see number of young Iranians who have gone through all the steps of getting to the top mountain of education, while they have forgotten the self. In some cases, choice of education has been equal to survival of parental nagging about future, comparisons to other’s children, and the risk for losing family status. In many cases, my young clients are telling me how much they have lost motivation even though they have tried to satisfy family’s expectations of them. Usually,this is the message most Iranian parents give their youth; you study and we pay. In this common scenario, individuals sense of identity, feelings, perceptions, and choice are out of question.

Number of of these young clients tell me how much their families did everything in their power to provide for their secondary and post secondary educations.

Now these individuals being in their 30’s they have reached the point where they realize their life has been sacrificed for a dream. The question is whose dream?

To be fair, let’s admit, we know that, most parents in our communities are willing to do anything to get their children become Doctor, Mohandas, or lawyers. Most Iranian families struggle for the sake of educating their children. Families in Iran, they are willing to sell their homes and use their life time savings to send their children to best universities in Europe or here in North America.

Families force their children badly to enter programs that are not really on the list of these young fellows. I used the word “badly” because it is visible that families do not consider the effect of this push and pull game they are in. These families work hard to get their youth to attend universities and colleges, while they forget to teach their youth self-dependence and social skills.

Education has become a discourse that impacts people life in a multifaceted way.

Sadly, most of the times we Iranian parents direct our children to fulfill a lost dream that is basically ours and not necessary theirs. Families who come to report that their young child wants to become a “doctor”, i always wonder about the emotional health in that family.

Families who come to tell me how many doctors they have in their extended group and how much they fear failure to procure another Doctor now that they are here in Canada.

There is no doubt that our Iranian life has turned upside down during past 30 years, obviously no one lives in their own skin.

Now maybe you ask what is wrong with being ambitious? What is wrong with educating our children?

Clearly, there is nothing wrong with helping our children to attend post secondary education. There is nothing wrong with being an ambitious parent. Indeed pursuing academic education is valued highly in all communities and we should continue using all means to empower ourselves.

However what happens to the need for knowledge and wisdom before any academic work?

What happens to the social skills that involves basic relationship and interaction in the world?

What about teaching our children to have a dream first and then encourage them to pursue their dreams?

Most of us are unaware of how much we negatively impact our children’s health and how much we cause emotional distress in a young body, when we forced them to follow a certain pattern.

How do we know what is right and wrong for our children?

How much do we differ between raising happy, independent, and healthy children compare to raising educated, discouraged, and spoiled children?

These are all the questions that have to be answered before talking to our young children about what they should and should not do.

Honesty comes first.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles May 12th, 2010 by this author.

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Family Building Manual

For creating a Family we need to have a set of principals. We live in a world where we receive manuals for every single item we purchase, yet, once we are building families, we have no manual to follow. Obviously there are huge number of literature and accumulated work out there; however, in our Iranian world, although we Iranian are family oriented, we still lack the main characteristics of family building.

I am certainly hoping that people from my home country and the Middle Eastern region would one day be able to have manuals talking about how children and families all deserve to live a peaceful, dignified, and respectful life. We all agree that individuals and families alone can not do it all. Stability comes with peaceful family building concepts that are practical enough for anyone to follow.

We Iranian often talk about how much we can die for our children. How about to live for our children and supervise them carefully?
We all believe that our children, just ours are the most talented and genius ones, how about to view all children, I mean all of them, as capable and genius?
We Iranian parents emphasize on respect, education, conformity. How about we respect our children to do what they are best at without asking them to follow our sometimes not best advises?
We Iranian have either too much control over our children or have no control at all. How about to work for social equality in our families, give our children a voice while we be the adults in our homes?
We Iranian often talk about our great love for our families, while not spending time with our children. How about encouraging all family members appreciating one another?
We Iranian parents lie to our children as we do not tell them the truth about our life situations and then we ask them to always be truthful. How about we model honesty by sharing what is going on in our families with our children (in an age appropriate manner)?

Once are life is distressed due to many life situations, our children feel the pressure twice. Once our families are separating, our children are much more in pain. There is a tendency among us, we Iranian, to think that children do not understand. We keep realities away from our children by manipulating them to the fictional life we believe would help them grow better. We do not tell our children how we feel as we fear to see them upset. How about having an open communication and share what is on our minds with our children?

This is the best private school we could offer to our children, school of truth and honesty.
Once our men and women divorcing each other, our children are in conflict.

We need to build a family, with or without both parents, in peace and harmony. We have no other choice.

If we use the Iranian common sense that we are all children of god, why not treat each other with respect as much as we believe god does. Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years have had people from all shapes, colors, and cultures. Why not to go back to the time when people traded with each other based on equal values and dignity. We need to be brave enough now, need to act like our heroic ancestors, and to voice our concerns about how much peaceful family building is important.

Family building based on individual values and peaceful conflict resolutions can be gradually transferred to our societies and communities. We Iranian should revisit our great philosophers and poets such as Molana (Rumi) to see how they define love and compassion for one another.
Family building should be encouraged and passed on to the next generations. We can only change ourselves. We need to change, to grow up, and to evolve; from inside out. Be in peace.

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

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Survival of an Ancient Culture

Our Iranian community has an outstanding need to talk about a vast number of important issues. Victimization is one concept that we do not pay attention to, although all of us, many of us, a huge number of us, have been victims of crime, trauma, sexism, oppression, gender apartheid, racism, and violence one way or another.

We have carried out the heavy load of these crimes without any chance for addressing the pain and suffering associated with the years of trauma or harsh experiences. Those of us who have lived out of Iran for a long time, we know that we can never stop thinking about who we are. How many times you have wished to be someone else, belong to another continent or another planet? It is hard to be Iranian. It is hard to have a heart for what is going on. Still we have to survive. Our culture has to survive as it always has made it.

Despite all the pain and suffering that exist inside our communities, we have never been told that we are not to blame. We have never learned that victims are not to blame.

We constantly are blamed for various things. We continuously look back to understand what happened to us and even to make sense of the nonsense in our home country. Some of us are smarter than others; some of us are more privileged than others, still we need to ask ourselves, what about the masses? What about those who have lost their strength and hope? We know that humanity and human rights is a strong agency, still we have nowhere to turn to help ourselves. Our culture has survived centuries of attack and we still need to keep it alive.

Each of us has stories of embarrassment, of humiliation, of hurt by people who use their selfishness to tell us how we should be. Times have changed. We need to speak out loud about the impact of victimization on our physical, mental, and psychological being.

Mental health issues in our Iranian community are mostly due to the old and constant emotional pain that has never been acknowledged.

Some of us try to find simple answers to the tough question of what is happening with our Iranian way of life. How do we interact with the world? Where is our personal and national growth? We can not find those answers anywhere; still we have to survive this sense of ambiguity.

Talking about national growth, most of us is mortified and frustrated about what is going on, we ask: why us?

Whatever happens, we still have to survive, we need to spread the language of love, joy, help, altruism, forgiveness, humanity, justice, and respect. These are at least those cultural traits that we were raised with, for sure many of us.

In any case, we have to let go of our egos. We are fighting in the name of this and that religion, ideal, belief, and political interest instead of working for and with our commonalities. Why is that?

For sure, we are survivors; our history is about survival and coping. We have existed and we continue to exist. We need to pass on the culture of survival instead of the culture of victimization. This is for sure.

A true, genuine and multifaceted help comes with our willingness and efforts. We need to learn our own history again. We need to find those positive sources of knowledge and logic so that we can rewrite our history based on what we know now. We were taught as children that kindness, love, and respect are invaluable.

Where is that kindness, love, and respect?

We Iranian are exhausted; we are tired of all the news about the impossible life back home. Despite the impossibilities we survive and we will survive, our culture is the only weapon we have got left.

What we need to is to learn healthy survival mechanisms and healthy coping strategies.

We need peace: peace in our language, peace in our actions, peace in our thoughts, peace in our behaviors, peace in our families, peace in our hearts. Enough is enough. We can not afford losing more of our dignity. We should be able to discuss these issues without continuing what our masters have tried to teach us. We can not copy their intolerance and hatred. We can not internalize loss and grief any more. We have to learn to be open-minded and practice new skills such as listening skills. How about that?

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles June 26th, 2008 by this author.

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Women and National Security

It is amusing and exciting to think how women are perceived as “threat” to the national safety of Iran.

We Iranians have heard this phrase multiple times. So as a result, in order to keep the country (Iran) safe and secure, for three decades a large army of men have been trying to fight women as hard as they can and the best they can. This army at times uses females who share the fear about national security with their male superiors.

This battle however is unfair because women have no idea about how they can be a threat to the national security. Besides women are human being as their male partners, so how come they are a big threat?

This unfounded argument and excuse for fighting women opens up a door for recognizing how women are stronger than they are aware of. Once you are being called a threat, then you should wonder what are your strengths and abilities. Once you are presented as worthless you should wonder about your worth that is being taken away from you. Once you are feared, you should question what kind of impact you have on others. In this path it is easier to engage in a new perception about self and others. Why can,t women be human beings they are? Why women have to be silenced at all costs?

A grizzly is considered as a threat to a society’s safety, once her existence is threatened and the surviving mechanisms kicks in. Iranian women do the same. She has one simple and single goal in life: to survive. However back to the concept of being called a threat you just wonder what Iranian women have done to deserve such an excellent complement. A good question is how come women are feared this badly?

How could women make a country unsafe? So this feeling of being threatened by those who hold on to the strings of power can only cause further problems for women. When did this unfair war get started?

In my practice of clinical counseling, numerous female clients as well as male clients all speak of the horrendous pressure on women and families back home.

One female client once asked me why “they” hate us this badly. With “they” she meant all the men and some females who are governing, ruling, judging, and ordering women to go to the hell, to the hell of abuse, violence, and control.

Another female client once told me stories about how in this constant fight about simple things such as physical appearance, women do not back off. It is obvious that women prefer to be recognized as a threat if their rights intimidates men this seriously.

Again going back to the argument about threat to the national safety we can only assume that women are powerful and capable, more than it is acknowledged in a health way. There are certainly an army of healthy minded men who accept women as equal partners. This greater army of healthy minded males do not feel threatened by women and in the contrary they see the value of collaborating with women in building healthier communities.

The hidden meaning behind all this fear is the fact that Iranian woman is strong and has power if they learn to believe themselves. All restrictions of women back home not only have not made our home country safer, but weaker in terms of human rights. This attitude is also in Taliban. The word Taliban literally means seekers, searchers, and those who are willing to know. I guess Taliban does not want to know, that is why they are contradicting themselves. We can assume that Afghan women are also being punished for the same reason as Iranian women.

There is no other way to interpret this fear and this feeling of insecurity by these men who do everything to restrict women. There is no other way to conceptualize this horrible act of crimes against women in Iran and Afghanistan.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles May 20th,2009 by this author.

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Democracy and Mental Health

As a teenager around year 1976 or 1977, back home in Tehran, I was reading a novel that was about participating events during the Russian revolution.

The novel was attention-grabbing and several times I came across the word Democracy. I really did not know the meaning of that word. My curiosity motivated me to look up the word in a dictionary we had in our library. I did not appreciate to skip the unfamiliar word that like many other Latin words were being printed in our Persian literature.

I looked up the word just because I had an emerging need for conceptualizing the story. I think the meaning that I found was too vague or too broad and I tried to put things into a context by that simple minded meaning of a big concept as Democracy.

I was not satisfied with the dictionary. I guess this word had been reluctantly overlooked by the system of censure at that time or it might have been by accident or because of translation errors. I remember I was thinking how come this was the first time I had seen this word, while I used to read books. Who knows?

I asked my father what that word meant. He did not like my question and he did not know the answer either. He suggested that I do not care about that remark because that word did not meant to be for us Iranian. I become conscious that if my father did not have a respond to my question, it maybe due to the fact that the word itself did not relate to our lives anyway, so why learns it?

For some reason I took the matter further, I took the book to school and asked my literature teacher. I expected this very knowledgeable teacher to know because he knew meaning of the most rigorous Persian poems. Somehow I guess I liked to show him my book to may be show-off to him as he was a role model to me. My teacher did not like my question either, his face turned red and he advised me to forget about that word and never again take that book to school.
Now looking back, I do not question why we (Iranian) are where we are now. I question how we would not be here in this crisis that we are in now.

Many of us Iranian enjoy the democracy and human rights in Western cultures we reside in. We live the word and live the meaning of what democracy means in the countries we live in.
Our history, the Iranian one, the real Persian one, is one of the saddest stories on earth. The rise and fall of democracy is truly a sad story that has happened in our history numerous times. We have to analyze our history from every angle, particularly from the angle of mental health and psychology. Rigidity in thoughts and in feelings causes mental heath issues. How can we say that all the repeated and patterned attacks on democracy are not due to rigidity pertinent to mental health issues?

We just give this hypothesis a chance and contemplate on it.

Mental health issues damage the actualization of democracy. People, who lack the psychological stability, would not care for democracy. Now looking back I believe that we can not reach democracy if people are scared, traumatized, silenced, and domesticated. People who have been excluded and ignored can not see the benefit of democracy.

We are where we are historically, physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically just because we have been manipulated time after time. We have let go of our own power because we are falling for mental health issues due to anger, hatred, avoidance, ignorance, fear of rejection, and fear of failure. No wonder we Iranian are fragmented. No wonder we are where are now.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles July 29, 2008 by this author

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Idendity Crisis

A couple of years ago, we were looking for a rental place. During our search, we found one place that seemed to be appropriate. After the regular arrangements, we went to see the suit that was for rent. Due to our phone contact, we learned that the owner was Iranian. We arrived on time. We rang the door bell. Soon, the entrance door was opened by a middle age man who did not waste any time to introduce himself. In that short moment of introduction, we were able to observe something extraordinary. As soon as he opened his mouth until he stopped talking, we found out some overwhelming detailed information about this man. He told us his first name, his last name, his complete titles and his professional work back in Tehran. He said: Hi, I am Mr X-Y, professor in psychology, neurology, and brain surgery from University Z…in Tehran.

After last word, we were hesitant what to say. In my mind I was checking whether we were at the right address. It took us a short moment to catch our breath and realize that we were not in a hospital and we did not ask for any brain surgery. The owner invited us in. We entered to the hall way, while still feeling there was something odd with this man. We looked at the renting suit; however there was something about this man I did not like. I think he mentioned that his wife was back in Iran and he had to go back to take care of his clinic. For some reason, I felt bad for his wife. I pictured his wife suffering in a relationship where this man tried to be the Mr. Doctor X. I do not know why my impression of this man was this negative. I remember I thought, just because he had presented himself in a way to brag about his background, I could not dismiss him.

I did feel bad for him too. How come he needed to tell us who he was? We were there to just rent a basement suit. I had never met someone who would present himself with his entire profession. We ended up not renting his place; however, I am still thinking why this man introduced himself that way.

Obviously for Mr. Doctor X., it was very important to let us know who he was. But, did it matter really? It did not matter to us.

I came to think of our Iranian grocery store in our neighborhood, where the owner greets every single customer with names such as: Doctor or engineers. “Hi, Mr. Doctor or Mrs Engineer.” Even saying this in English, it becomes double weird.

I know many people loving his way of greetings, why, maybe because they feel like becoming someone with those titles.

What is really going on? Why do we need to show one another who we are? Can we not just be a person in our day to day meetings?

We Iranian know of the culture of pose or the culture of showing off.

How come having labels and status is this important for some of us?

Why is it that we are not able to let go of positions, status, labels, and masks? I am sure this man was a doctor or something, yet, in my view, he was no better than anyone else. He was just a person lost in his own label.

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

I believe that we Iranian need to challenge our beliefs by analyzing our own culture, the ways in which we find our strength and also how it hinders us from self-development.

Our next generations could adjust better in their walks of life, if we can offer them a thorough and honest analysis of what has made us to be where we are now.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles November 5th, 2008 by this author.

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Dogma Our worst Enemy

Do you have you one way of knowing, thinking, and believing that you are absolute sure, being the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Do you consider yourself being “the knower” or ‘the seeker”?

Do you believe that you know everything and you do not need to learn more? Then maybe dogma is your enemy too!

What is dogma? What is bias?

Dogma is nothing but a psychologically proven distorted belief pertinent to rigidity, biases, and black and white thinking.

How many of us believe in something and we would make any sacrifice to proof ourselves being right? How many of us Iranians remember those years we argued long nights about who would be the absolute “liberator” of our home country?

Who remembers those who would blame, label, spread hatred, and create conflict in order to present the absolute truth. Not only we Iranians, but also the entire world have those people who come across as dogmatic and biased just because they have no tolerance for others way of being. Surely, we Iranian have suffered physically, psychologically, spiritually, and mentally due to the germ of dogma and extremism that has moved into the most invisible layers of who we are today.

How many people do we know that suffered deeply for the sake of one or another ideology they choose?

There are no simple answers to these questions. Dogma is an embodied discourse in many ways of looking at life. How come we decide to stay at one side of a line and not consider many ways of life circumstances, and various style of life people have?

We have to reorganize out thoughts, values, and opinions if we like to clean up our bodies from this killing germ. We have to detoxify, cleanse, and purify ourselves from this killing poison that is called dogma. The first step is to say: I do not know what I thought I knew and I will learn from now on. Seek help if you are contaminated already. Help and hope is around the corner, just open your eyes and be willing to change.

Note: This article was originally written and published in EzineArticles September 26th, 2010 by this autor.

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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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