Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Country In Flames

As I write this, I'm watching HBO's Letters to the President. We have been glued to our computers and the TV for the past couple of days, following the aftermath of the elections in Iran. Chances are, if you have been watching the news or cable channels, you don't know what's going on. CNN had an interview with motorcycle repairmen yesterday. MSNBC had something about Ted Kazinski.

The Revolution is not being broadcast.

Chances are you don't know much about my country. I don't blame you. You don't know about my people's generosity or their frustrations, you don't know of their dashed hopes and dreams. You don't know what is like to have lost your family to war; to have gathered in a house with your extended family praying that you survive the nightly bombings. You don't know what it is like to bury your sons who fought for the survival of a government they didn't believe in. You don't know what it is like to be seen as ignorant and repressed; international pariahs.

What you probably know is the caricature of a president that is made even more ridiculous in translations. You don't know that he was elected last time because the majority of the electorate boycotted the elections to make a point to the Reformers. You don't know that the he was elected by people who can barely see past their own day to day survival and are willing to vote for anyone who promises to build a road to their villiage, or give them a loan to buy a home. That is not to say those who voted for him were ignorant or stupid. It is to say they are just like us, responding to their basic needs as a people.

Two days ago, elections were held and something did not go according to plans. I tried to block out thoughts of the elections, I did not vote. I no longer live there and don't feel I am entitled a voice in a system that doesn't impact me directly. I was wrong. That system impacts my family who mostly live there, my friends and their families, my people and my culture. I was wrong to not vote, even if my vote would be lost and the loser would be hailed as the president. I was wrong not to vote, even if I didn't have much faith in any of the candidates because there was a lesser evil and even a window of hope. I was wrong to think that the rallies of people in green were just an excuse to get out and mingle. I was wrong to be so cynical about something that hurts my people.

If you look, you can see what is happening in the aftermath of those elections. There are cries of protest, there is violence and there is bloodshed. Those are my people. The pictures you see are of my sisters and brothers, my cousins and friends using the songs and calls of the last revolution against the government. Those cries of Allah-o-Akbar coming from the rooftop are the same cries that brought down the Shah 30 years ago. The cries of 'Azadi, Azadi' (Freedom, Freedom) are being used by a younger generation and thrown back in the faces of the people who are repeating the mistakes of the past. If Khamenei and his ilk have any memory of the past, they should be more than a little worried.

I am sad that they are suffering, I worry about the people I love. But I am proud that they did not accept this in silence. I am proud that they are braver than I ever could be. I am proud and hopeful.


TK said...

Being someone who also once lived in a country racked by election turmoil, I can understand all points, even the ones you may not be proud of. I'm so sorry. Question, though - what are your thoughts on this?

Girl With Curious Hair said...

I read that over the weekend and I have to agree with him. It is such a ridiculous margin, it doesn't even make sense. This is how I see it: last election, the turn out was significantly lower because most people were boycotting the elections (I thought it was a ridiculous strategy) and Ahmadinejad won with a narrower margin. This election, people were going to specifically vote AGAINST Ahmadinejad (picking the lesser of the four evils) and he 'won' by a margin that popular incumbents would dream of.

The worst part isn't that they fudged the numbers, it's the fact that they didn't even think they needed to have believable numbers to pull it off. They were so tone-deaf and arrogant that they couldn't imagine the anger and humiliation that has been bottled up for so long.