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A Political Story, of an Apolitical Fool

By Roya Monajem, Tehran

The Tarot Cards, as an ancient account of the spiritual path of human beings on the Earth, start with the card called "Fool." Although its meaning here can not be devoid of the usual meanings of fool; that is simpleton, stupid, idiot, but to me it is much closer to the meaning of "ignorant" that is the adjective used for man in Koran. "Only man accepted the lent load (baar-e amaanat), because man is ignorant and cruel." And this subject of where is the distinguishing line between, foolishness, stupidity, ignorance on one hand and courage, boldness, bravery on the other has been a subject of inquiry for ever since my childhood.

With this introduction, inspired by an e-mail I received from a reader of my last article "Free-will and Determinism," I would like to use the opportunity to look into the above subject once more in the hope of reaching a resolute conclusion this time!

The subject of his e-mail was from "One incurable skeptic to another." From his e-mail I learned that he is American and apparently a rather distinguished man of politics, at least in his State of residence, who visited Iran in the late 60s. In his letter he describes me as a 'subversive' which as I continued reading his e-mail I thought that it can be just a self-projection. In the contemporary science of psychology it is now a "known" fact that we all in fact describe ourselves when we try to describe others. In other words, we just project ourselves upon others, which is another way of saying we see ourselves in the mirror of others.

So now I would like to write him a mail in reply with the subject "From a Persian (Iranian) subversive to an American subversive," but instead of sending it straight to him, I would like to share it with anybody interested in the subject.

Dear ...
Your letter left it to me to decide whether I would like to continue this communication despite its 'dangerous nature' or not. I appreciate your concern.

Now that my children are grown up, I give myself the liberty to take refugee in a friend's cottage in a remote village near the Caspian Sea whenever I can. This gives me a few days of more or less absolute aloneness and of course plenty of time for reflection.

I will consider myself a true 'coward' if I stop this communication merely because of its "hazardous" nature. It is helping me to see important aspects of our Persian psychology; the psychology of one of the most ancient people on this earth. (Keep in mind please, that these days I am translating articles on the ancient city of Esfahan, her long history, remaining monuments, etc for Tavoos Magazine, which helps me review Persian history as well.).

As a nation we have been strong or lucky enough to survive Arab conquest without losing our native language as did the Egyptians for example, who were not that lucky. Then, except for short periods of time, non-Persian speaking rulers ruled us until the reign of Pahlavis; first by Mongols, then the Turkish Seljuqs, followed by Turkmen Timurids, and then Turkish Safavid and finally Turkish Qajars. Isn't this single factor of language enough to turn us to one of the most mistrustful, pessimistic people of the world? Can any foreign rulers really be interested in the well being of their "subjects?" Could we survive without such collective unconscious traits all these years?

We Persians can be so mistrustful and so pessimistic that we can think of the most improbable. From one perspective this is a virtue these days. In the world of sciences and technology, business and commerce, as well as Arts one should be able to think of what "is not" but "can be" there in order to be successful. Those who can think of the most improbable have a better chance in 'discovering' new things. That is perhaps why the number of successful Persian (Iranian) scientists and men of business and commerce, particularly in the 'democratic' West is increasing daily.

For example, when thinking of you, it did cross my mind that "he can be a fake." (Is this correct English use of the word 'fake?') (By the way, please stop comparing your Persian with my English. You did not spend your teenage years in a Persian speaking boarding school. Nor has translation been one of your careers or professions in life as it has been in my case. Or perhaps you know more Persian than an adult can learn in one year! Otherwise, making such a comparison is not really 'logical and rational.' And when I pay attention to these little things I get more 'scared.' Who is he? What does he want from me?

This is exactly when another one of our national 'exaggerated' and to me 'repulsive' traits comes to play, self-centeredness, egoism, empty pride. In relation to our discussion, I should see myself quite important to think about all this. Shouldn't I? Otherwise why should I get scared? I am just an apolitical incurable skeptic and inquirer, writing her thoughts in a foreign language, that's all. Surely, a loner like me can be of no danger to any political system, no matter how totalitarian it might be. So there is no need for fear. Or is there still?

Let's leave my just and unjust suspicious thinking aside, and deal with the most interesting point of your mail that makes me thankful to you for 'daring' to write to me.

It was absolutely amazing to sense a feeling of fear in your words when criticizing your ruling regime.

You, living in the land of democracy whose rulers now intend to enforce democracy on us 'barbarians' as their ancestors tried to convert us to Christianity, are more or less as scared as I am living in a religious totalitarian state that intends to 'export' Islam. It seems we are just witnessing and "victims" of a modern (or perhaps I should say post-modern) form of Crusade Wars!

However, on a deeper, closer examination of the matter in question, it seems we are all still the same 'barbarians' in search of our questionable 'humanity,' no matter where we live; in a technological advanced democratic country where human rights have long been recognized and acknowledged and to some extent practiced, like your United States of America, or in a technologically backward country, where human rights as such exist only for the rulers, their entourage and their advocates, like my county.

So it is quite natural to wonder whether there is really any hope left for humanity; is it not?

I will call myself a coward if I stop this communication merely because of its 'dangerous nature,' as it is nothing more than a simple exchange of ideas between the citizens of two different countries; despite the fact that these two countries have been in a state of 'war' for the past quarter of century. But I can not afford to be coward, that would be against my biological survival instinct. I can not afford to think that I am alone in this world because of my way of thinking and approach to life and politics. I need to be sure of the existence of similar people on this planet. Even if I reach the conclusion that human beings have been and perhaps will always be essentially living the same old story of the war between good and evil, love and fear, but only in different social-economic-political formations. Thus no matter how incurable is my skepticism, because of all the 'logical, rational' evidences available, I can not doubt that these two fronts do exist and we all need to decide on which side we would like to be.

No matter who you are, I will consider myself a 'coward' if I don't write this letter to you, no matter how much more I will be forced to pay for this 'foolishness' or 'ignorance' of my 'human' part. Instead, I would like to celebrate this advent of Internet that helps loners like us to feel as a community despite our different nationalities, backgrounds and socio-politico-cultural systems of rule. My survival instinct tells me that there is still a hope left for us in Pandora's jar: The hope of the coming reign of Love on this beautiful planet of ours, on the condition that we somehow manage to join our energies together, despite the vast geographical distances between us and against the will of the known apparent rulers of our individual countries and of our common invisible unknown rulers, whoever they might be.

1. As Saint Exupery says in the Little Prince, "words are the source of misunderstanding" even among the people who speak the same tongue!

... Payvand News - 8/2/04 ... --

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