This complex Concept of Aberoo

We Iranian live with a very complicated existential and culturally influenced concept called Aberoo.  Certainly this concept is known in other Persian speaking nations.  The notion of Aberoo impacts our daily life, physical and psychological health as well as our financial situation.   In any case the notion of Aberoo keeps us away of being honest, direct, straight forward, and correct.  For sure we damage our relationship with others because of the behaviors that Aberoo forces us to.   In some aspects this broad concept causes us pain and anxiety because our lives are defined many times by this concept.  We usually say: “If he/she/they know, then my Aberoo is gone.” What do we really refer to?

The word itself involves a vague sense of ambiguity and doubt.  Literally Aberoo can be defined as the water of face.  Keeping our face in all times and with any prise is what Aberoo leads us to.  We do not benefit by living with this fear based and self-destroying concept.  I believe we cannot find one positive element in Aberoo, a self-written script that simply censure us more than any other culturally rooted phenomenon.   In our Iranian families we are many times forbidden to speak up our minds because of Aberoo.   We stay away from seeking help and support because we fear our Aberoo is hurt.  What do we really mean by this way of behaving, thinking, and feeling?  We definitely do not gain anything, but we lose many things.
Our children usually ask us:

“What is Aberoo and why should I care about it?”  We Iranian parents often refer to it when we want our children be silent about family secrets or issues that may influence others perception of us.  We like to keep a facade and defend that picture at all costs.  We refer to Aberoo as a right to be known and viewed in a certain way.  We fear people judging us and knowing about our weaknesses.

It is important to use some tangible, comprehendible, and widespread type examples of Aberoo in order to describe what this concept is about.   Remember our tradition of hosting guests.  Some people will borrow money or use many ways of pretending to be richer than they are, to offer their guests good food that they do not afford.  Some people would buy expensive furniture to proof it to others how wealthy they are.  Some other people lie about their situations to keep up the face that in the first place is self-explanatory.   I believe there are many movies showing how families struggle to keep up the face whether it comes to financial status or social positions.  In any case we do anything to look better, more, larger, stronger, and more powerful.  Aberoo is exactly about letting go of ourselves for the sake of others.

I know one woman who battled breast cancer all by herself because of Aberoo.  This woman did not let anyone in her circle of friends and siblings to find out about her breast cancer, although people around her could see she is undergoing many changes.  There are many families who do not for instance talk about their addicted children or family member because of Aberoo.  We do know many women who suffer in the hands of abusive husbands and do not disclose what is going on due to Aberoo.  We can find numerous examples of how Aberoo limits us and how we let to live with fear because of Aberoo.
Why do we do this? Why do we insist on Aberoo?  This is a lengthy debate and needs time.

Poran Poregbal
March 12, 2009

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