Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dear Iran

I'm having a hard time not hating you.

Seriously, it's getting really difficult. It would be easier if I could focus on your contributions to the arts and civilization, your food, your humor, etc. It's not easy, though. It's hard.

It's hard because the human rights violations in which you seem to be committed to so fragrantly committing with such self-righteousness make me nauseous. Time and time and time and time again, you go after the Baha'is. You do this for no reason discernible to the whole rest of the world. They're persecuted not because they are rapists, thieves, drug lords, or murderers. Some are in jail because they went into the Iranian hood and set up groups for educating and empowering children. They set up tutoring centers and fed hungry people. They did this in collaboration with devoted members of your own faith, Islam, and with the full blessing and understanding of the local government and without any mention whatsoever of their own religion. You are stoning your women to keep them in "their place." You are robbing your most dedicated, educated, and motivated servants of their freedom by actually keeping them in boxes. Literally, in boxes. Enlightenment, it seems, you have infinite time and resources to fight.

What gives you the right? What the hell are you fighting so hard to preserve? You have removed all access to progress and education from the multitude. You have raised entire generations of men who see it as their right use and abuse their wives and children, continuing a cycle by which Iranian families will likely take decades to recover. You have obliterated any remaining shard of respect any of us may have harbored for our culture of origin.

I listened the other day to the story of a man who had not seen his sister in 38 years. In the space of this 38 years, his sister's husband had been thrown into jail, tortured, and killed. There were two important pieces of this story for which I will never forgive you. This woman's son was hit in the head as he ran to speak with his father during one of their 30-minute weekly visits. I do not tolerate this kind of behavior towards children. Additionally, the man was executed on your orders, and you refused to speak with his wife respectfully when she came to thank you for allowing her husband release from the pain of this world. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior, and there is no excuse for keeping siblings apart for 38 years.

I also will never forgive you for my friend who had to be married in a foreign land surrounded by the family she was forced to create because you made it impossible for her to live at home. When the wedding came, you kept her father from attending. This is also inexcusable and unacceptable.

I will also never forgive you for splintering half of my family and scattering it around the globe. I will never forgive you for the pain which this continues to cause my mother, not even meeting the vast majority of her family and having no access to the land of her forefathers. I will never forgive you for bulldozing my great-grandmother's grave, as you have so casually destroyed other Baha'i cemeteries.

I am conscious that I must avoid insulting any soul, yet it also bears mention that your president may need more information before he goes to speak with other people.

I am filled with an anger which causes my soul to scream in rage. I am called by my religion to love, tolerance, and an understanding that the trials and tribulations of this world are what cause our souls to grow. Baha'u'llah says, "My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." I will spend the rest of my life trying to be obedient to this injunction... to understand that pain is weakness leaving the soul... to wrap my mind and heart around the idea that we are all dwelling in the palm of God's hand and that, regardless of present circumstances, He forgets no one, leaves no prayer unanswered...

Iran, Baha'u'llah promised that you have a very high destiny. Right now, though... I don't even know what to say. Only that hatred and ignorance and willful disobedience to the eternal commandments of the All-Merciful are not without their consequences, and hate and conscious ignorance of this sort are a cancer. You have to fight cancer, or one day you fall down and disintegrate. I will try to fight the desire to see you fall hard, but I won't lie. It's there.

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