Saturday, June 20, 2009

On being left speechless.

This thought was too long for facebook, so I hope you will indulge me the space it takes here. I was not too sure about making comments regarding the violence in Iran, most especially since I am not Iranian. I don't feel like I can speak legitimately, or even intelligently about the particulars of what is happening there. However, I do feel the need to say something to my friends; to those of you who grasp much more completely than I do the implications of what is taking place, whose future happiness and prosperitey are tied up with the events unfolding in Tehran, Shiraz, Tabriz, Esfahan, and other places that space and my own ignorace prevents me from listing here. What then to say? Expressions of solidarity, compassion, or concern seem too easy; my ignorance is obvious and undeniable, and thus any such statements would, I feel, be lacking. The inescapable point is that I do not know, nor can I fully comprehend what each of you is going through right now. There is no way for me to fully share your outrage, your frustration, or your sorrow. I am left in a place where I want to help and support but am unsure what, if anything, is required from me. In the final analysis I can only offer to my friends what I do have, share what I sincerely believe, and ask your forgiveness that it is so painfully insufficient.

The first thing I would like to say is a word of caution, beware of hopelessness. Talking with a few of you over the past week, and following events on Facebook, Twitter, and a couple of blogs I keep coming back to the same thought, that there is the danger of resignation; on the one hand a chance that some will be demoralized by the actions of the government and vow never to vote again, on the other hand an attitude that change must happen now or it never will. These sentiments provoke in me the desire to say again, beware of hoplessness. The real danger in these days is that the brutality of the regime will convince some that their's is a lost cause or simply an unattainable dream, and that they should be more realistic about the power of the state. I can only caution that such false practicality is the trap laid by those who would use violence to enforce their will, it is an invitation to see the world as they do and to act accordingly. The only thing I can offer in rubuttal is the conviction that the agents of repression are really the ones fighting against the inevitable; it was most clearly articulated when a friend reminded me of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

I have had account recently to think about those who support the current regime, not for personal gain or because their fortunes are tied to its success or failure. I keep coming back to thinking about the regular people who did vote for Ahmedinejad, who believe in Ayatollah Khamenei, and who will also have to live in whatever kind of Iran emerges from the chaos. The second thing I would like share also comes from Dr. King. I will just transcribe it here, as his words are far more potent than my own;

...Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and to retaliate with corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love...Of course, this is not practical...My Friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts...But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love...To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in good conscience obey your unjust laws, because non-co-operation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is co-operation with good. Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour to beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory."

My apologies.


  1. I wanted to write something in response to this yesterday but I was way too emotional. I still am. But I do want to say thank you. I was in too much shock yesterday to cry for any of the killed. My tears (and that is kind of hard) had dried up...and your words brought it all out...
    And I am still struggling with all of it because I know that I should love 'them'. I know it. But I dont know how. I dont know how.....

  2. Thank you for your comment, I just wanted to do what I could to try and help a little. Unfortunately I can't really give any advice, I can't come up with anything to say or do that stands a chance of making a difference. I don't know either how it is possible to love people who commit this kind of violence, I don't even know how it is possible to not hate them. The only thing that I can think to say is that maybe its not about how, perhaps there is no way or reason to love. I think in the end it is just a choice; a choice to not let their hatred corrupt you, to not let their violence invade your mind, a choice to keep your humanity and dignity and compassion. But again, I can't tell you how to make that choice, I can't even tell you that you should. I just know that you are a good person; I know that you are tired of seeing people doing ugly things to each other, but I cannot imagine a future where you do not smile and laugh and keep trying to understand the people around you so I don't have to worry that you will let the violence of some people destroy you...because I think you have already made your choice.

    "I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. I'm not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love, I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. And I have seen too much hate. I've seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I've seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love." -Dr. M. L. King Jr.

  3. thanks sean, and thanks faezeh...Ill write another entry on love, pretty soon=)