A concealed phenomenon as Loss of Identity
In a gang related shooting on November 6, 2007, a young 25 year Old Iranian man was killed. Indeed, he and his 31 year old companion were shot, while they were driving in a luxury vehicle. Now you might question, what is astonishing with this news?
This young Iranian man was according to the Vancouver Police known as a “Persian gang” member and associated with other gang related activities in Vancouver B.C. for a couple of years.
Vancouver Sun November 7, 2007, A2, describes this man as:
“Heavily tattooed with Persian Script, was known to frequent downtown nightspots and was an associate of a number of Persian Gangsters targeted in shootings across the Lower Mainland over the last year.”
This is one of a number of incidents in the past couple of years where a few of our young Iranian men have been gunned down, killed, shot, or named in relation to gang and drugs.
As a community, we have to ask why? What is going on with our young men? I mean, those young male (or female) that indeed associate with “gangs.”
What can we do to prevent more harm? How can we help our younger generation to adjust to the two cultures they live in a healthy way? How can we help our children to stay away from dangerous life styles and harmful activities that some gangs are involved in? Although the number of these young men is not many, however it is worth to look into some aspects of the issue.
Feeling the pain and suffering that this young man’s family might go through, it is important to visit some aspects of this “Persian Gang” as an unknown phenomenon to our Iranian community. What is this concept about anyways?
I am sure this man’s family migrated to Canada and British Columbia, just like the rest of us; to live a life away from the injustice and unfathomable situation in our home country Iran. We can be sure that this family is an average family like many of us who did not want anything else than providing a good opportunity for their children here away from all the issues back home. We should remind ourselves of the family values that many of us respect, love for our families, love for our children, and a dream of a productive life.
Now the question is what happened? What happens to these young men who get involved in this shallow, yet media glamorized life of being a gang member? What went wrong for this young man, something that we may never know or not comprehend?!
Without judging this family or even this young man, it would be interesting to open up a discussion about this situation. How can other families learn a lesson? Did this man have any mental health issue such as depression or was he suffering from any sort of trauma? What can be done for other young men who might go through similar situations? What are the signs that we as parents may need to look into or look for. Although this young man was an adult man, we know as Iranian that our children are always our children!
What is it about being Persian that makes some young people slide into a world away from their families and communities?
What is the origin and reason for the existence of such groups as “The Persian gang”? What is it that these people are missing in their existence that they need to show it this badly?
What is a “gang” anyways? If you search the INTERNET, you find the definition of a group of individuals who share identity and those who oppose to the mainstream norms.
What does it mean now? If we agree that the idea of identity is a big issue for our younger generation and for each one of us, then we could see that this young man and those like him do not think they have something in common with the mainstream society, meaning the rest of society.
Why this should be happening? Have they been excluded from the mainstream society in first place? How can we include these people?
Have we now comparable phenomena of everything to other cultures that we just miss the “Persian” kind of it?
This is now more than what we can be silent about. How are our young boys doing here in the life of migration? What is it that they try to defend, reject, resist, and oppose by building their own gangs and cults?
What do we as parents, need to know to be able to prevent our young children from falling out of this circle of living an average life?
There is a rule that when we lack something we do more of something else. When we lack identity, we look for it badly. When we have lost sense of self, we try to define our “self” with excessive shopping, large spending, bragging, and many other ways of showing how fascinating we are.
The notion of migration and mental health issues are not explored among us Iranian and not even noticed easily.
What do we know about suffering from trauma, depression, and stress? Are we able to appreciate the fact that migration, settlement, adjustment, and finding a new home is stressful?
Being stressed out and depressed about what some of us miss in our lives, is a normal reaction to a very unmoral situation we have in our home country and here. We are impacted by the forced migration, loss of community, loss of identity, and loss of the sense of belonging.
Migration has impacted every single of us. We change and we have changed as a nation, as groups, as individuals when we moved out of our home country, when we try to make home elsewhere. By making this statement I do NOT suggest that migration make our boys gangsters, no, yet, our children need to identify themselves with a healthy sense of being.
How many of us do not notice how our younger generation tries to define themselves? They are caught in between two or more worlds, with SOMETIMES no sense of belonging to any of them.
The issue of identity and loss of self is important to recognize and learn about.
November 7, 2007
For detail of the news see Vancouver sun, November 7, 2007, A2.
This article was published in Goonagoon, on November 23rd, 2007.