Despite Traumas; Seek the light

There are hopes and dreams while the level of uncertainty and ambiguity is high in the Middle East. The oppressive forces inflict more pain, as much as they are capable of, in order to stay in their blood draining hunt for power. Ordinary people are hurting due to loss of jobs, bad economy, careless actions by their governments, and internal conflicts.
Looking at Iran only, there are endless stories of trauma, tragedies, and suffering almost everywhere we turn to. A friend just coming back from a month visit in Iran is talking about how many stories of suicide she heard, how many young people she or someone she knew who had committed suicide. Young people scream for freedom while this scream is being suppressed badly and harshly. Obviously helplessness, hopelessness, and frustration are issues that many of us Iranians are now dealing with, more than ever before. What are the options really?
Daily and extensive human rights violations in Iran do influence us Iranians around the world; however people living in that big prison called Iran, are the one who are paying the price. The danger of war that the regime of Iran would love to have just adds to the pouring rain of tragedies on our people’s head. On the other hand, the request for freedom and the need for free voices have never been this noticeable.
For us, outside, although we are reading the news in the comfort of our homes, still frustration, disappointment, and fear are the real emotions we experience all the time or most of the times. On the other hand we read research results clarifying the relationship about stress/ depression/ abuse on people’s life. It is unfortunate that none of those researches can even touch one inch of the reality that our people are dealing with. In the west we talk about the relationship between our physical and emotional and psychological health. How about the psychological health of a nation who are kept hostile in the hands of most brutal men for 32 years?
Now what is the solution really? Listening to the daily stories of unfathomable implicit and explicit traumas is the salt on an open wound. However, we need to listen to one another in order for offer the other support, who else is supposed to do that if not us?
Would Prayers and positive energy help then? What would help?
I guess seeking support helps while we have to know where we come across that support. Most importantly is that we keep finding networks and groups that are helping us breath fresh air. We need to belong and we need to feel we can do something, even in the smallest scale. Get into groups and break the cycle of isolation maybe that is the first step. Despite all the odds, we have to survive, we have to seek the light that is inside us, the light of hope and the light of resiliency.


Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking is a decisive skill that has to be taught from the early ages. While critical thinking is pertinent to our daily life, it is not accepted or encouraged in dictatorships or oppressive systems. Still today in 2011, people are being told what to think and how to think.
Years ago, once searching for graduate school I realized that most universities offered a course called: Critical Thinking. This blew my mind. Along that line, in one of the courses for my graduate studies, we had a professor who at the end of each session would suggest readings while wishing us a “happy creative thinking.” To me, this was incredible, I kept telling myself, how could my thinking become happy or be creative at all while I was dealing with internal and external forces of oppression?
I came to think that no one had ever encouraged me or us for a happy thinking. While I was suffering from the fact that my countrymen and women were being killed at the same time in my home country because they were critical thinkers, here I was challenged to become overly critical of our compound planet.
I would look around and check for the critical thinkers in my surroundings. While people had that skill, yet their voices were low, they had almost no energy of thinking deeper, or they were hiding in the corners of each justified avenues for silently talking about the injustice in their home country. I could see that oppression had taken over critical thinking.
I had to gasp for breath when I recalled how our people have always been discouraged and punished for being critical thinkers.
Obviously, critical thinking for us Iranian is intertwined with fear, intimidation, harassment, and punishments. Now with the western movements such as Occupy Wall Street followed by a whole range of Occupy places, we would think that our younger generations are showing their potential for critical thinking by demanding for reforms. Perhaps our younger, multicultural, social media generations have learned to be critical thinkers in the school of hardships and in the aftermath of poverty and injustice.
However, still it is significant that universities and academic institutions around the world offer critical thinking courses and keep encouraging people to actually thinking critically.
Surely, our current situation in the world requires critical thinking for finding new creative ways in dealing with the most challenging issues in our human history. Human being is without a doubt thirsty for widespread humanity, peace, freedom, respect for everyone’s rights, and justice more than ever before. We need to question the status quo while offering a platform for the new ideas.
Thinking critically could become a habit, a source of gathering strength, a way for expressing the self, a method for organizing one’ thoughts, an avenue to download what is bothering, search for answers and new ideas a plan for next actions and a structured way of hoping for change.
Therefore, critical thinking is entangled with the freedom of speech and human rights.


About the Report on Censorship in Iran

Searching twitter, I came about to see a twitt and then report that startled me for a moment.
Not that there was anything wrong with this report: no, it was painfully true. Who does not know about the ugly reality of censorship in our home country? Who does not know about our young people doing anything to have access to internet or to find little information on the internet? Who does not know how many brilliant Iranian people are trying to use all the anti filtering systems they can in order for themselves to check their facebooks, see their emails, and surf the internet?
This wonderfully written report opened up a different view on how our Iranian life is changing. “Cultural Censorship in Iran – Iranian Culture in a State of Emergency” is a must read report by writers from Small Media Foundation, July 2011. Find the report through this link:

Past 32 years of our Iranian life, we have been hearing and witnessing the worst unbelievable stories of censorship, harsh punishments, human rights violations, and life worsening conditions that are everyday life in our home land. Now, reading this report on censorship, you get a holistic perspective on the unimaginable impact of these censorship on people’s mind-body-soul, while our future generations are at risk of not learning anything about politics, history, science, and so on.
Hope there would be more research and reports on the psychological impact on the trauma of not having rights to access information. Human rights include having access to information about our world, besides internet and access to computer is today on new aspect of our human life. So what is going on in Iran and the scope of censorship is truly beyond conceptualizations.
The extremists, who are able to censor people in large back home, are trying to poison people’s mind here in our town like everywhere else Iranians have fled to. Have you noticed the number of places being opened so called mosques or more fashionable names such as cultural centers? Well, god knows how much the filtering and suppression, and false information is being shared in these places, just because the regime of Iran has only one commitment which is border less: censoring our culture and heritage. And guess what, without culture and heritage, we have no identity, and without identity, we lose our minds.
Read the report and find it yourself.

Reference: Khalaji, M., Robertson, B. $ Aghdami ,M.(2011). Cultural Censorhip in Iran, Iranian Culture in a State of Emergency.


Present Yourself With Dignity

There are many people who either exaggerate in presenting the self or at times mislead people in creating an image that may be their ideal yet not the reality. This is an existing problem in our community and at times concerning. In our filed: There are some people who walk around and call the self “counsellor” without having proper education or training in that area. There are those who call the self as a “psychologist” just because the person has a BA in psychology or any other subject, and so on. This illness of calling the self as something different or bigger, or using fake verbal presentations on the self, is widespread in our community. The problem is that big that at some point you want to puke when seeing people who really got the delusion of being whatever they call themselves as. In the line of our work as clinical counsellours, I recognize these fake identities all the time just because we tend to know one another in our community, besides, as soon as someone opens their mouth, they show their level of professionalism. Unfortunately we have those individuals in our communities who present themselves as mental health professionals while really they do not have those qualifications. Who get’s hurt here? For sure those “clients’ who go to see the promised “psychologist” who indeed has a BA in something. What happens to the clinical treatment on that person? Well, clients report to us how they are mistreated by these so called doctors or psychologists who enjoy finding the respect that our community has for those professions, misrepresent themselves. This is a nasty heritage we have in our culture, all those fake people who pretend being leaders in one or another way. Who can stop them? Well, i hope that the professional boards would recognize these misrepresentations by fake people and stop our clients being hurt more.


Imapct of Public Excecutions in Iran

No one can ignore the fact that our Iranian life, anywhere in the world we live in, is impacted by the news about / from what is going on in Iran.

With all evidence, the horrors in Iran continues so does the influence of these scary news on our minds. Not only, the number of public executions and hangings in Iran have increased, so does the number of crowd watching these scary scenes. This recent trend of being excited for death and darkness intertwines with how human right violations are all normal part of a much challenged life in our Iran.

Recently we heard the horrible news of how a large crowd of people gathered to watch the public hanging of 17 years old boy in the suburb of Tehran. This hearth braking news might highlight just a glimpse on how the brutal regime of Iran is exposing people to violence more than before.

The pictures that were broadcasted through the media, shows all men being excited for public execution of a young boy. Where is our humanity? What happened to our Iranian way of forgiving and being kind? Perhaps we have lost our aptitude for life, compassion, and humanity long time ago. For sure, consequences for this level of viciousness and repulsion are more that we can estimate.

What is the psychological impact of this level of exposure to killing and brutality like this on our future generations?

Just to guess some of the consequences is to question:
How could people be this De-sentiszed to pain and suffering?
What these watching crow (men) for these violent scenes be possibly be capable of?
How these men who enjoy watching death are treating women/ children and others in their community?
What happens to the victimized families?
Where is the human rights community?
Who cares about the public victimization and traumatization of our people in Iran?
When and how these nightmares will end? Where is hope?

Without a doubt when violence continues, it is difficult to converse about impact, healing and solutions.


Mindfullness in My Community

Recently, I put together an outline for a Mindfulness group. For the first run of this group, I realized the significance of such program, since mindfulness is the last thing we have time for.

On this note, we may recognize that all the prominent poems from our kings of poetry teach us the techniques for awareness and mindfulness. However, mindfulness among our widespread communities has never been taken seriously, maybe only is some soufi groups. For numerous reason, mindfulness has become a luxury, a treasure, a style of life that is not intended for everyone. Considering the hard realities that we Iranians live with, mindfulness is all about keeping our heads above the water. While breathing in the fresh air is almost impossible for people in our home country, those of us who live outside the borders, still have to search hard for some air of any quality.
Now, what can we do to raise awareness about the importance of mindfulness in our communities?

We start with talking and practicing: We are here and now. We take a deep breath. We observe ourselves, where we are, how we are, and how we breath. Observing is what we do, only way to start being mindful. At least for now.


Deserving Happiness

We Iranians are tired of being sad. We Deserve Happiness. We deserve life.

Have you noticed that many of us, Iranians, individuals and families, live in distress, anxiety, and confusion? Families are divided between here and Iran, between all countries around the world and Iran, between everywhere they live and Iran.

There are many things that bother us, first of all this notion of migration; we do not know how to handle it, yet, Iranians are one of the most successful groups of immigrants everywhere they go. Just here in North America, there are a number of reports proving this point. As much as many families and individuals adjust well to new societies when they first arrive, after the settlement period there are many identity questions that stand out: Who are we and what are we doing here anyway? How do we live our lives as newcomers, immigrants, and new Canadians? How does our identity match up with the norms and styles of life here?

Some of us are also unhappy people; we complain about many things and sometimes about everything. We compare here (Canada) and there (Iran) to the point that we cannot catch our breaths. All the flights to Tehran from North America and Europe are always booked, yet, we are missing something! We are not sure about our new identity, as individuals, as a group of people, and as a collective around the world.

Why are we this unhappy group of people?
Humanity is alive with hope; we are all in need of hope! Hope of having hope back in our home country. Hope for a home country where happiness is appreciated and everyone is encouraged to live a better and happier life. Hope for no more wars, no more conflicts, and no more hostile attitudes toward anyone.

We have many excellent subjects to work on. We have got the most resilient people in the world. We have all these educated women and men, who, if they could put their minds together, would form an ocean of creativity that would make us the most happy nation and most proud people on earth.
The question is: are we able to put our minds together?

Have you listened to Nazanin AfshinJam’s new song called “Someday”? It is most possible that you will shed some tears if you listen with your heart. Maybe because her words are all we need and want: “Someday darkness will fade away,” she says. Thanks Nazanin, we need this hope! You are a light in the darkness, truly!

We need to raise our children with a new identity, as being human beings who belong to this new world, a world of migration, a world of movements, a world of creation. Right now, we are like isolated islands either with no bridges or with broken ones. I am trying not to be negative, because this is the last thing we need, I am hoping to create a dialogue, to challenge our collective minds, and to awaken our collective consciousness about what is missing.
Let’s admit: we are all isolated individuals who may be successful in our individual fields, but that we need to rise above and move beyond our egos if we are looking for a solution. That is my humble opinion.

Just here in Vancouver, not talking about Canada, and not talking about the whole North America, how many Persian TV, radio, and satellite programs do we have? On a local basis, we have almost a dozen hard working media people who are, one by one, all sitting on their isolated islands making programs about our culture. It is difficult and frustrating to say that this happens because we do not know how to collaborate and how to cooperate in order to make one, two, three, or even more programs that are useful, meaningful, educational, and helpful for this widespread number of people who are all searching for a new identity in this community. Look at our satellite programs that are being broadcast from the States; they are nothing we can be proud of, just hostility, empty words, and copied songs and pop music that is not ours. Let’s try to be ourselves, to find what we can contribute to this culture of humanity and culture of being Iranian!

It is to be acknowledged that all this happens in the light of offering good programs but the content is equal to air bubbles, it says nothing that is caring or constructive. Lengthy talks about trivialities do not cure any pain. Let’s talk about ways in which we can start searching for the cure!

The most successful event I have seen here in Vancouver was the celebration of Women’s Day, which was arranged by a group of community women, who worked hard and created the most organized celebration. The tickets were sold out because they were very inexpensive at $15, and these women were able to convince their communities to attend. This group of women and also men in the background were the most selfless, caring, and humble people who could put such a nice event together.
Our media men have to ask what these women did and learn from their experiences.

Let’s be frank, this all happens because we do not know anything more than what we do. Now it is time to know better.

Those of us who have seen Mirzanouroz’s Shoes may need to go back and watch this beautiful historical movie again. Misdemeanour could not let go of the old, torn apart, and ugly pair of shoes that had brought so much unhappiness to his and everyone else’s life. He held on to those shoes and every single time he ran into trouble, he was backed up by a wise, and logical man who tried to ask the Hakeem for forgiveness and to not punish him for the damages he had caused because of his love for the old shoes. This wise man would tell the Hakeem, “Please forgive him, because he is a family man, he has grace, and he is a hardworking man. He made a mistake because this man does not know more than he knows!”

Now let’s relate this advice to our new life situation: We need to know better: to know more than we know! Let’s look at this a bit closer; we have got increasing numbers of Iranian immigrants. Just slowly, in past couple of years, we have got individuals and groups of Iranians who try to work on community building, New Year’s parties, celebrations, speeches, and socializing clubs are in place as grassroots activities. As long as these events are free of charge many people show up but when there is a small fee involved, the number of attendees decreases dramatically. Families, who are very well off, sometimes hesitate to pay a $5-$10 fee for being part of a group in order to break the cycle of collective depression and individual suffering.

I guess the concept of group work is very new to us and it takes long time to learn this way of finding support.

We have a common well-known concept here that many families lives are based on: Mazdak people. This concept of mardane Zan dar Canada, in our Persian community, which means “men with wives in Canada.” Men who cannot let go of their businesses back home and have to travel back and forth to take care of their companies and also families here. Women in these families work hard to keep the children and family life together. How much of family life and father role can these men give their families? This type of life is also another aspect of the forced migration to our nation.

Right now, we have a huge number of community programs that are happening in Vancouver. In every single Persian Newspaper, you will find many ads about groups that are being offered by various organizations. We can attend and learn if we leave our egos at home and be ourselves! Our people tend to go to the free ones and not the ones that charge a few dollars to cover at least their paper work. We do not need to isolate ourselves. Migration is hard; being new is harder; longing for a home is hardest. Let’s do it together, ask for help and also help those in need.

June 12, 2007
This article is also published at Goonagoon, June 22, 2007 Issue. See


Murder of Our Legends

The recent loss of our best legends are creating a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. The killing of our people seem to be one continued act while people are defenseless.

A stressed out nation like our Iranian one, these days has no time to breath. One legend after another is falling down, all after years of hard battle with the devils of our time.

These days it is hard to hear at least one good news about something benefiting people. There are barricades for people to express the self in a meaningful, contextual, and congruent way. Physical assault, murder of grieving daughters and mothers in day light, shooting of our young people who attend peaceful rallies, imprisoning our best women and men just because they ask for change; life can not get worse for our people in Iran and for all Iranian out there who care.

After 32 years of Oppression, now we are seeing most horrendous violations of human rights. Regime of tyranny and terror push our long time legends to silence, suicide, house arrests, and a life in the dark boxes of lies with guns on their necks. What is the solution? The heavy feeling of hopelessness among our best people of Iran is being sensed millions of miles away.

We need peace, we need hope, and we need laughter again.


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.


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.