Democracy, what does it mean? How does it look like? When are we going to attain that?

What do we really know about democracy?

When my daughter was five years old, she attended a kindergarten in Stockholm. One day, in middle of the day, I arrived at the school to take her out to some activity. I noticed that some of her classmates were sitting in a circle and that the teacher was sitting with other classmates within that circle. The topic of the day was Democracy and they were taking turns talking about things that were related to their daily activities and relationships. Once the class was over, I asked the teacher what was going on. She said, “We are just practicing democracy.”


I was stunned. I was also excited to know that my daughter was learning about things I’d never, ever heard of in my childhood.

I remember back in Tehran, around age 14 or 15, I was reading a book where the word democracy was used somewhere (I guess by accident or because of translation errors). I took the book to school thinking that my teacher, who was a very educated gentleman, would know about this word, and I expected it to relate to science or biology or math! When I asked my teacher about “democracy,” his face turned red and he advised me to forget about that word!

I could not forget. I went home and asked my father, hoping that he would help. He did not give me the answer either, but he thought that since this word did not relate to our lives in anyway, why learn it?!

Now, looking back on the life changing events that resulted in this Diaspora of Iranians it is fair to say that what is still happening is due to the lack of tolerance and acceptance for various perspectives and world views.

Still, today, we try to raise our voices to get our words heard!

Democracy and love for others goes hand in hand.

Democracy and respect for others is interconnected.

We were never taught how to listen to each other. Our Iranian culture has never even come close to this notion of letting others win! We were never educated about the simplest thing in the world: human relations. Let’s try it now! It is never too late!

What are your experiences with this topic? Share it with others! Share it with us!

May 30, 2007

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