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A New Psychological Disease!

By Roya Monajem, Tehran


I don’t know why whomever I come in close contact these days seem so strangely depleted of life, hope and motivation to be. Although these are major signs of depression, but the overall mental emotional state of us is different. In what sense? In the sense that genuine depressed cases seldom show up in parties and other unconventional gatherings and seldom would they travel or you would see them laughing, dancing and in one word enjoying themselves. We do. This is what makes the above mentioned mental emotional state so strange. In fact gathering with friends and family has been our main recreational activity since the rise of Islamic Republic and our main source of recuperation from the hardship of everyday life, that is why presence in or absence from these gatherings can be used as a sign of presence or absence of typical depression.




None of these people whom I am taking as sample are ordinary or ‘herd people’[1] and they belong to all social classes, from our old aristocratic, capitalist to educated middle class to low income classes. Now by not being herd-like I mean they are people whose life has been so full of up and downs and they have gone through so much hardship in the past 28 years (such as revolution, war, economic sanction, all kinds of suppressions and intimidations, national and international humiliation and...) that they are now strong, highly enduring personalities who no longer ‘shake with any ordinary wind’ as a Persian proverb says. When such people seem so depleted of life, hope and motivation to be, it becomes awfully scary. It seems we are giving up.


Perhaps it is all because of the hot dry summer that we are in such strange state! Perhaps the coming of cool weather, if it comes would cool us off too! Yet I am afraid that the coming cloudy rainy days of autumn may make us even worse. We Easterners are not that much used to such weather. The above mental emotional state has already darkened our internal world and has covered our azure skies with grey clouds. That makes even the thought of coming cold long winter nights horrifying. What will happen then when as it appears we are not going to have even books to read; book publication has already come to almost standstill and as everybody knows, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to use internet to search for books and articles (even those approved by the government) that might help us in this respect, for it is enough for their names to contain the letter ‘x’ for example, to be denied of access! Now I understand why the proverb “Lucky is the one who is born as jack ass and dies as mule” has arisen in our country and I suppose similar thematic versions of it are most probably found in all other countries with a past and present history of authoritarian regimes.


When azure skies of our internal world are darkened by harsh conditions of the outer world, and one feels as though living constantly under the sword of Damocles, what happens? Naturally one starts looking for light. Where is the first place to look? What is the nearest outer world to our inner world?  It is the world of our historical cultural political social life.  So let’s look at it and start with our history. Once a vast Empire and Cradle of Civilization is now a medium sized ‘backward’ country, according to the present standards of human civilization whose center, it is now a few centuries that has been transferred to the Western Hemisphere. No help; its remembrance and day to day experience can only make our already darkened azure skies darker. The same can be said about the cultural part. The Cradle of Civilization is now in the state that thanks to the electronic revolution everybody can see and learn about through the media. Again the same can be said about its political social life that once again everybody can get familiar with both through the media and also visiting the country to see for themselves, as nowadays media increasingly broadcast only that which the political system of the world dictates. All these years whether through visitors to this country or as visitors of foreign countries, we have seen how the picture of life in Iran seems different –up to some extent - from the eyes looking at it from outside (i.e. through the media) and those of her actual inhabitants and impartial visitors. In any case, from one perspective and according to present social political standards, this part of our outer world offers no bright and promising prospect either. Yet, from another perspective and that is taking the degree of human mental emotional health as our criterion, it appears “everywhere we go the sky is of the same color” as another Persian proverb says. In other words, here too we do not find any solution, any way out of that apparent dead-end path we have reached mentally-emotionally, at least if we do not involve ourselves with the concept of relativity and formalism, saying for example that American or European form of social injustice and political corruption is more acceptable than that of Cuban or Islamic Republican or Chinese or Korean. And when one no longer wishes to pretend that “one knows what is the best” or ‘can do anything about this miserable outside world other than to weep and wail for human condition and what we have done to our Mother Earth, still looking for light, one looks this time at heavens. No wonder that spirituality, esoteric teachings or metaphysics have become a vogue throughout the world after the fall of communism or the last Western Ideology which is also a proof for the above claim that from one perspective life appears the same ‘…’ everywhere, otherwise why should westerners with all that material security that they can enjoy, the security that makes life incredibly more foreseeable compared to our life here be so much interested in such ‘superstitious teachings,’ as they can still be called by modern western scientific thinking…


Writing of this piece was interrupted by an expected door-bell: “Open the door! It is the police,” By then I realized they have rung all the bells. “We have come to collect your satellite dishes.” Our first collective decision was not to open the door. We are finally learning not to let anybody who claims to belong to police force in without first checking if they have the necessary official papers. And as they did have these papers and a stamped photocopy of the verdict of the public prosecutor, we opened the door and following that a group of apologetic military men poured over the roof. I was alone with them; feeling very awkward, I let to be taken away by the rush of memories and associations. This was in fact the second time in my life that I was experiencing that very strange emotional state. We ordinary people, no matter where we live usually do not like police force. They associate imposed rules and regulations, involuntary surrender. They associate prisons, killing at wars. But who are they? Like us and in an insufficient and unsatisfactory translation of a verse by Hafez, ‘they have fallen where they have fallen by virtue of a bad accident.” What is the difference between ex-Shah’s soldiers that we came face to face during the days of revolution and Pasdars and Basijis (present military men) that I was facing on our rooftop or those simple American soldiers in Afghanistan or armed Iraqis that we see on TV? They are just simple performers or executioners of orders! Isn’t it only by a bad or good accident that we were born in the family, country, hemisphere that we were born and grown up and do or do not belong to military families?





Going back to the main question of this piece what should one do when one’s azure sky of one’s internal world has turned completely dark and in search of light one finds no bright promising outlet in one’s immediate outer world either? Considering the fact that one does not wish to give up and surrender to the present miserable life all over the world, when taking mental emotional health as our criterion - one naturally or automatically tries to expand and widen one’s field of vision further. Automatically, one looks up, into skies and if by accident it is a night sky with no sight of blinding lights of our present civilization at least very near to where one is standing, one sees the Milky Way, that white path of one out of numerous galaxies that our little tiny beautiful Earth belongs to and coming back to this Earth and our mortal perishable bodies, for a flash of time perhaps we feel and experience our pettiness, our nothingness, yet inflamed with so much self-centeredness, empty claims of knowingness, vanity, pride, conceit and negative mental emotional subjectivity. When this remembrance happens then it is as though a cool ‘heavenly’ breeze blows and makes love to us. Wow what an ecstasy, what a bliss!


Let’s celebrate this tiny point of wakefulness on the long path of eternity, as whatever that comes to life, to existence can never die, even according to most materialistic scientific view. Who knows a few years later we can be a clay jar waiting for somebody to buy us![2] So what are we waiting for? Otherwise we will miss that flash of light that just crossed our darkened azure skies and warmed our hearts before it disappears. Where were we? Standing in a dark corner watching our beautiful Milky Way Galaxy, remembering what a tiny little thing is our Home Planet Earth in comparison and recalling ourselves as insignificant as a speck of dust floating in air appearing as a transitory point of light! After all aren’t we just a heap of charged particles that when in motion will produce a magnetic field of light around us unless darkened by negative emotions and thoughts?


[1] In Nietzsche’s Terminology.

[2] A modern interpretation of a verse by Khayam, the great Persian mathematician and poet.


... Payvand News - 9/18/06 ... --

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