tale of “change”!

My aunt sent me this letter to share with our blog readers.  It is about hope and change and has a strong message for all of us, whether you are from New York City, Tehran, Tokyo, Cairo, London, or Los Angeles, even though the topic is on the existing situation in the United States.  Enjoy reading it and send us your own thoughts and experiences:

On the 28th of June 2008 I made all the possible arrangements to attend a party in Berkeley for Obama. I wanted to participate in that party to unite with the community I felt a part of. Being with the people who are seeking change; who are promoting dignity for mankind irrespective of their race and ethnic back ground. The thought of this understanding coming from American people really excited me for the wonderful world my children and their generation are going to have ahead of them. This all had come at the time when they had lost hope for the future. People of this country were about to have compassion for themselves and for the people of the world. How incredible.
The people at the party were obviously mostly the elite group from Berkeley, fit, outspoken, and open minded of all ages. The refreshments were generously presented along with very efficient display of stickers, pamphlets, T-shirts, etc.

It was a wonderful feeling to be sitting with this group under the same roof. The speakers informed us of all that was happening and all that is needed to be done in the few months to come (just a few months). The questions and answers followed the introduction and it gave way to comments about international affairs.

As one of the speakers started commenting and joking about Iran, I found myself feeling very confused. What is going on here? As the jokes about my country continued, I felt as if the walls of the room were closing in on me. I felt even dizzier when I looked around and saw these well intentioned people, or so they seemed in the beginning, as the same prejudiced people they are trying to oppose.

My confusion continued to the point of absolute disappointment not because I was being insulted as an Iranian and not because once more I was witnessing a great civilization like Iran was being mocked by ignorance, but mostly because I was loosing hope.

Yes, Obama had brought hope for us that all this can change. Here though I was sitting next to people supporting this human quest, chanting for change yet seem to be so far from it. I asked myself desperately whether these people know what change means and what it takes to practice it. Do they think that change is a fashionable slogan? Is the change about to take place once there is party and free wine, strawberries and stickers? Are they now going to make a song out of it and dance to the words, “yes we can”?

Oh my dear fellow men, I wanted to shout, “it is going to take so much more”. It will take a real human being to respect another; unity needs maturity. Is five months enough?
I still believe Obama is that person. In my eyes he is a true adult, a self actualized, mature man with dignity.
My disappointment turned to fear at this point. What if I actually say something and jeopardize Obama’s chance of victory. I had been told that at this time as an Iranian I should not show my support for Obama because that could work against him. I could understand that and I was not about to introduce myself as an Iranian (I even faked a really thick American accent as I said hello to people). I knew before I went to the party that I would not say that on the other side of the world as a human being I did all I could to support him so my children and the children of the world can respect each other. This is not what I expected from an Obama campaign in the refined society of Berkeley.

On the other hand I felt so obligated to cry out asking his campaign managers not to damage his mission.

This was my confusion.

Well I did not say a word because I did not know what effect it will all have, not to mention I badly needed a ride down to Shattuck







Filed under culture, Iran, traditions, Uncategorized

4 responses to “tale of “change”!

  1. riad


    It is very shocking !!!

    What types of joke were they cracking- political,humanitarian, cultural nuclear bomb or the over all image of Iran we outsiders have been exposed to ever since the revolution???

    One of the fundamental things you’ve got to learn as a human is manner -perhaps the first thing. Even before religion. Talking with disrespect about any Nation or community suggests they were not really serious about the “dignity of mankind”. If these people are the architects of the future then………..

    However, I still believe that the common people like us want to live in peace and accept others despite their reservations – if any.

    Disappointing parties such as this one in Berkeley
    can be dismissed as odd incidents.

    That’s all I can say at the moment.



  2. Dear Riad,
    thank you for your words. I’m not sure what types of jokes they were telling, probably the regulars as you mentioned, in addition to more insulting social/cultural ones that I myself hear all the time (even as a student at U.C. Berkeley). Berkeley is one of the most open-minded and diverse cities around the world, in my opinion. Yet, we often face situations that are mainly caused by ignorance and blindly following the public media.

    As you know, the media in the U.S. and many other countries spends a large amount of money on propaganda against Iran and a few other nations.
    Justifiably, though, of course Iranians at home and around the world must work on improving their image, in addition to many internal deeper problems. However, this does not explain judging and treating each other with disrespect, especially an ancient country historically critical in the world humanitarian, cultural, artistic, philosophical, and scientific developments and movements.

    In line with what you said, I think it is fundamental not to judge a nation based on media. Most of these people who regularly give negative/insulting comments about Iran or other nations don’t know a single fact about Iran’s history, the nature of the conflict, or the history of the region. They usually don’t even pronounce the name of the country correctly and confuse Iran with the surrounding Arab countries (none of whom deserve to be miss-judged). Judging in general seems to always be problematic.

    I hope that things will start to change towards more knowledge or interest in knowing more about one another and our common goals with less judgment and generalization

  3. Fatima

    Shideh, that was a great post. Please thank your aunt for that. This political season has been very interesting and is getting more so as we get closer to November. I agree with your aunt regarding Senator Obama. I think he has great character and the prospect of him as president does give me much hope. But I also wonder, are people turning these slogans of hope and change into fads (much like we have seen done with environmental conservation)?

    The way Obama has handled many attacks on him and his campaign (ie the Reverand controversy, the pictures of him in African garb) has earned him my respect. But one issue which makes me weary is the way his campaign has tried to sway ‘accusations’ that he is a Muslim. Interestingly my Jewish neighbor asked me one day if it upsets me that Obama has to vehemently deny being a Muslim, as if there is something wrong with it. I understand that no one should be called any religion that they do not practice; I would be upset if someone said I was something I am not. Yet as an American Muslim involved in the political process, it places me at odds with what I see as my candidate choice. When two women wearing head scarfs were denied seats behind Obama in a Michigan rally since they would be seen in camera shots, I was outraged. As much as Muslim Americans or Arab Americans or Irani Americans feel like we are ‘American’, it is frustrating to be told by others that somehow we aren’t REALLY American.

    Obama has broken many barriers, not only by being the first black candidate for president, but by speaking out on issues others have been fearful of approaching. If a black man can discuss what race in America really means then maybe an Irani can someday openly state her political opinions and a Muslim woman can be sit anywhere she wants.

  4. Leila

    Dear Shideh,

    I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. But I want to urge you not to give up hope so soon. This is a difficult time for Americans. Some changes do not come easily, even when you are prepared to make them. These people in Berkeley have begun the difficult journey of shifting America away from ignorance and blind hatred, and toward openness and love. This change may not happen overnight, even inside those who most wish for it.

    When people insult us based on ignorance, we must love them even more; enough to teach them how to truly see us. Often people don’t realize the hurt they cause. Don’t run away from this pain, embrace it, so that you can change it.

    I truly believe the face of America is changing for the better. Now is the best time for hope! It may be a slow process, but the conversation has begun! Don’t silence your voice yet, just wait for your moment to speak so you may best be heard!


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