June 11, 2008

Move forward, not back

Being an Iranian, raised in Sweden and now living in the United States, I have had the pleasure to experience the Iranian community in these two countries as well as many others. What I have discovered is a common similarity among all Iranian regardless of where we live. Even though there are of course many similarities between us, there is one in particular that has really grabbed my attention; that is our lack of involvement in the political arena.

When looking at our past, it is not surprising to me that there is a conscious distancing from politics. Iranians have for many years been victims of political and social injustice and suffering. Most of us who now live outside of Iran most likely left the country because of our disagreement with the regime or to basically save ourselves from the tragic war with Iraq. Therefore, we now have a distilled fear of politics, and we constantly discourage our youth who wish to pursuit a career in politics. Again, being victims of our political past, it is not unexpected of us to feel this way about the political life.

Yet, even with our refusal to engage in politics, most Iranians seem to have many opinions about the politics in Iran and in the countries they now live in. These opinions are usually the inevitable topic of conversation in all social gatherings. At least from what I have experienced, and I believe that most Iranians would agree with me. However, we have not been willing to translate those opinions into action.

Iranians are one of the more well-educated minorities in countries all around the world. In the United States, the Iranian American community is also one of the wealthiest minority groups. Still, without political know-how, it is difficult to engage and get our voices heard. It is in my opinion, essential for us to have our voices heard in politics. Most of us now live in democratic countries, and we need to learn from our political experiences and instead of constantly looking back at them, utilize them to move forward. With a larger political engagement from the Iranian American community or any Iranian community in the world, we are able influence and translate our opinions and wishes into reality and actually achieve the changes we want to see.

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