Iran News ...


6/5/03

Cruelty

Roya's Corner...
By Roya Monajem, Tehran
royamonajem@gmail.com

It is said that between a cruel person and his/her victim, the latter does more harm for accepting and surrendering to the cruelty of the other. This can only be true under normal natural circumstances or circumstances when it is possible to act according to the natural fear instinct of fight or flight. In fact what we do under such conditions is to intuitively assess our own and our "enemy's" power and if we feel stronger, we decide to stay and fight, otherwise we "put our tail on our shoulder and fly away," like a high soaring bird.

But what if one is unable to decide what to do, like when one falls into a state of fear when facing a threatening situation. And when we are trapped in such a state of being we can't do anything, we can't decide. We are paralyzed.

And perhaps this is the very existential state that the people of Iran are now facing, due to the threat of the possibility of having to experience a fate similar to that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq experienced recently. Or at least this is my state of "social" being. Yes, I am very scared to be a witness of my country's demolition, and of the death of my countrymen and women. I keep on remembering the days of the war with Iraq. For me the worst part was when I realized how insensitive I have become toward all the inhumanities that went on around me. And believe me there was a lot. On one hand, there was the news of our young men and innocent civilians being killed by Iraqis and actually witness it during the bombardment of Tehran and on the other hand, there was the news of another group of young people called "anti-revolutionary" by the ruling system being arrested and executed in prisons. And there was the constant impending threat of the so-called "revolutionary guards." The fear of getting caught for not wearing your scarf tight enough (which especially in summers it gives the feeling of having the rope of the gallows around your neck), or having a group of friends at home, playing and listening to music, or sitting in a car with your opposite sex (except your father, brother, son, husband) alone; and as you grow, the fear of what is going to happen to your kids adds to it and intensifies it. Joint to this fear is the feeling of insecurity in relation to future, both personal and social. No wonder that there is so much apathy, indifference, indolence, hedonistic behavior on one hand and so much depression and anxiety and illness on the other hand in the society. And if we don't wish to act like the conventional medical system that usually treats only the symptoms while leaving the cause intact, we should find a way to transcend this fear and feeling of insecurity first.

So the first question is what is the cause of it? From a rather more comprehensive perspective, it is the presence of so much "injustice" and "cruelty" in the world as these are the greatest sources of human pains and sufferings. But who is responsible for their prominent presence? According to the above belief, all of us who do not do anything to stop it. And who is exercising this cruelty and injustice? Our political systems, with all the intimidating instruments that their ruling ideology dictates them to employ. And they are indeed horrifying instruments. So how can we decide whether to "fight or flee" under such circumstances? For example, under the presence of the fear of US invasion, should I pave the way or at most remain silent toward the invasion of my country, or should I join the resistant force no matter who might be leading it? Who might lead this resistance force? Most probably the religious extremists as they are the only group that are "armed" (ignoring the fact that even their "military artillery" can not do much compared to that of the "enemy.") But they are one of the major sources of "cruelty" themselves. They have already proved who they are in deed. So on one hand, you feel you betray your country if you side up with the invading forces and on the other hand, you can not join the possible resistance force. So there is no other way except to assume the position of a "fearful" witness as it seems that you can neither fight nor flee. Flee to where? A foreign land? Is there any land where there is no cruelty in the society? Is there any land whose inhabitants refuse to accept cruelty? What is there to do except to remain as this fearful witness?

But it is not healthy to remain in the state of "fear" for long. What can be the remedy? At least a personal one?

Perhaps the remedy is to remember that outside is a reflection of inside. When we can be so "cruel" to ourselves in our individual lives how can we act otherwise in relation to outer sources of cruelty? And we learn to accept cruelty when we are children living with parents and teachers who project their fears by showing cruelty as a part of their familial, social, cultural, educational upbringing and conditioning. As children, we are weaker and more vulnerable than to be able to either "fight or flee" anyway.

But no matter how and why we can be so cruel to ourselves, it seems that the first step for coming out of this dilemma is to learn to be kind to our own individual self. To have mercy on our self. And for that one needs to become increasingly loving and compassionate. And strangely enough this is what it seems to be actually happening. For on one hand, there is this growing movement of different forms of "spiritualism" in the world, all preaching love and compassion and forgiveness and on the other hand, it seems that superpowers and political systems are becoming more cautious and careful in their application of open crude forms of cruelty because now their cruelty is watched and checked not only by internal but also by international awareness. They are using more "human" and "civilized" instruments of intimidation. Surely, execution on an electric chair is far more "human" than execution on a crane used as gallows. So perhaps after all, things are beginning to change in relation to human life on this beautiful planet. Perhaps this apparent growing love, compassion and softness will create the ground for the emergence of a better world.

Is this true or am I just dreaming?

... Payvand News - 6/5/03 ... --



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