Friday, June 12, 2009

Iranians Vote

Ok, so my blog jumps from cholesterol-lowering drugs to Iranian elections. What can I say? There is spirit everywhere!

In advance of my comments, I apologize for any blatant misunderstanding I might display in my blog about Iranian's political process. It is a country with which I have been obsessed since the hostage crisis in 1979. But, as always, I remain more "big picture" than detail-minded so forgive my ignorance as I blog about this historical day.

Today, the voting for a new Iranian president begins. Will the world say goodbye to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or not? I watch the election closely. It is one that has a worldwide rippling effect because Iran feels like the shaky brick in the building of a foundation for world peace. Even though we might not want to pay attention, we must.

For many Americans, Iran is just one more backward country in the Middle East. We seem to lump cultures from that part of the world together and shelf them under "veil-wearing, misogynistic, tyrranical, illiterate terrorist fanatics" and distance ourselves from those sweeping prejudices that are constructed under a lot of fear and misunderstanding. I see what others see because I, too, am human and am afraid of people whose paradigms clearly fit nowhere in mine. As a matter of fact, my Americanism seeped in my veins when traveling to countries whose political ideals felt repressive to me. Objectivity could not be found as I wrestled to make sense of other country's political structures. No free speech? I would have to kick someone, for sure.

But, being indignant, and riddled with fear and misunderstanding, would only get me so far in those countries -- in jail, I'm sure. So, rather than yell, I watch. And I wait. What will happen this week for the people in Iran?

I have selfish reasons for a more open Iran. I would like to travel there with my children some day. Persia is home to one of the world's oldest continuous world civilizations, rich in art and culture. Have you read Rumi's poems? Iran's Pre-Islamic history dates back to 3200 BC! This cannot all be lost to our future generations. Their history belongs to the world. With a closed Iran, we have a closed history book. There are no closed books in my vision for the world. So, will the book open with a Mir Hossein Mousavi at the helm? Iran's crucial political policies are controlled by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Kohmeni. So, in no way will Mousavi's presidency be a a green light to full disclosure. We can hope, though, that it is the opening of some kind of a flood gate.

Mir Hossein Mousavi has attracted the young and affluent vote, which is the future. But, in a country where the mobile text messaging system just happened to go down right before voting began, I'm not sure the young and affluent have an advantage right now. But the promise is there. Mousavi voted with his wife by his side, Zahra Rahnavard, a former university dean. This balance of power with the feminine is also the future, the needed respect for women that seems to have gotten buried in so many country's political regimes under fear and dogma, another mark of the past, for sure. Without the balanced power of the feminine, no country has a chance.

So, I keep my eyes on Iran, one country in a world fraught with a myriad versions of fear and misunderstanding. and, rather than point my American finger in the face of a country in dynamic political change, I wait, I watch and I hope. And, while they vote, I pay close attention to those places in our own country where fear and misunderstanding lurk. Because spirit is needed everywhere.

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