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We need to work together for our country Iran!

10/31/03 By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

It may come as a shock to some of us that there are people who don't know who Shirin Ebadi is, and what Nobel Prize is, let alone what the Peace award is. The fact that an international body has recognized Shirin Ebadi's works and what she stands for seems totally irrelevant to them. The flame of hope, which was lit in many hearts, which many pray may help to bring about a better vision for the future of our nation, would not mean anything to them.

Some of our country folks do not really care about the fact that an Iranian and a woman has been awarded Nobel Peace Prize this year. It gets even worse! Some who do could not care less either. The first time that I encountered such ignorance and indifference, I was quite flabbergasted. But when I encountered it here and there as the days went by, I realized that, like many other things in life, one happening could not be terribly significant to everybody to the same degree. Nevertheless, it was quite an awakening realizing that there are many who are so wrapped up in other things that even such an important event, in the eyes of so many, does not affect them much.

Allow me to confirm first and foremost that as a believer in exercise of democracy, I stand for the right of everyone to express themselves, whether I agree with them or not. Furthermore, nobody and nothing has a hold on 'absolute truth' even if there was such a thing. People and their lives evolve, and so should thoughts and attitudes. I have learned that that without change there is no progress; we must learn to adapt ourselves with time, in order to move on, without need to lose sight of our goals.

What I found so sad after I read a recent letter, was its approach. Over and over again through the years, many tell me that they "had to leave." I still believe that everyone makes a choice, and should accept the consequences. This may sound a bit harsh, but then at least it means that you are/were in control rather than the "circumstances."

Among those who know what this prize is and who has won it and what Shirin Ebadi does or does not stand for, there are "other" debates taking place, quite sadly too. One of Payvand's kind readers sent me an e-mail containing a letter from one activist to another, both living in exile. This person directed his remarks almost completely, in condemnation of the remarks by the other and in revealing the "shortcomings" of the winner in question.

I truly wish to know why so many of us Iranians can feel our existence by spending much of our energy, in whatever sphere it might be, by condemning others. What is it in our national physics that stops many of us to be builders and makers? Why is there so much narcissism at large that we can only see ourselves and our thoughts to be the prevailing one? Why it is not possible that we, each, hold a bit of the truth and why can we not learn to work together, join in union based on those values that share and have in commons rather than be divorced from one another and go our separate ways based on our differences? Why Iranians suffer from the disease of not-being-able-to-work- together? Why so many of us think like George Bush who says "you are either with us or against us?" We laugh at him and his na´ve, narrow-minded views and policies and yet we fail when our turns come as we take the same approach!

This land of ours, this country, needs people to work for it together.

It reminds me of two parents, a father and a mother, who fight for their children's love and affection against each other, not realizing what terrible damage they are doing to the well-being and soul of their loved ones. Please let me know how we can put a stop to this negativity and destructive approach.

When many years ago I mentioned in a gathering that these past twenty odd years has been beneficial and positive for many Iranian women, if we take the country as a whole rather than a selective percentage. I had to face a barrage of condemnations and I was accused of many things: "How did I dare not to see what has been done to women here?" "Was I blind?" "I had been paid to say this" ...and many more. Nevertheless, the fact remained that prior to this the majority of Iranian women were condemned to stay indoors and were deprived from taking part in any economical and social-political activities except as women of their men. The recent history has been a blessing for this group of our women. Since the system could not trust and rely on those women "like me," they were forced to bring out their own women. This has had an amazing effect on the nation as a whole. We must see things for what they are. We cannot just complain and show the shortcomings and negative points. Our country needs all those who truly care for her well-being. If some of us may not be effective in ways that we wish, then we must try and find other ways to contribute. However, whatever we do should always be for the people, for all Iranians, and of all kinds and backgrounds, not just for those we like and who may agree with our points of view.

One hopes that we all grow up and become mature and refrain from just praising or condemning and instead do something that unites us all for the better of this great land of ours so that it will be a better place for all to live in. Let us make a vow to think in unity and togetherness for this very long hard task ahead!

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