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Democracy Demystified

By Saeed Nowroozi


I live in a very red state. I live in a state so red that a liberal is someone with only one shotgun in the truck. I have been in this most red of states nearly my entire life. So much so that I think my neck is beginning to turn red. It is no surprise then that as a centrist I have long been apathetic about politics.


Democracy Index as published in January, 2007. The palest blue countries get a score above 9.5 out of 10 (with Sweden being the most democratic country at 9.88), while the black countries score below 2 (with North Korea being the least democratic at 0.86).


By no means am I a single issue guy, but as your sort of "average Jamshid" Iranian-American the well being of those in my ancestral homeland figure prominently in my thoughts. But here too I was pessimistic. Years of listening to Iranian satellite TV and predictions of "next year in Tehran" had left a very sour taste in my mouth.


And then came June. Almost out of nowhere this Green Movement exploded on to the scenes and fanned the embers of hope within every red-blooded Iranian. An unparalleled ecstasy of hope took over the souls of Iranians and non-Iranians alike.  Being Iranian was suddenly cool.


In June of 2009, I became a born again Iranian. The Saeed that was "Persian" disappeared. At virtually every café CNN was on and Iran a hot topic. Conservative Tea Party friends of mine were coming up to me and encouraging me to work with them to throw pro-democracy rallies at City Hall.


Sadly for several months I was a headless chicken. I engaged in "slacktivism" online and pretended I was doing something that mattered by starting up petition after petition to send to the UN and whoever else I could think of. There is no disputing that I had the fire in my belly, but I certainly had no clue as to how I should channel this enormous energy.


And then came a friend recommending that I attend some workshop with him. The organizers were a Washington DC based organization called the National Iranian American Council. Upon hearing that I thought to myself, "Oh God, everyone is going to arrive at Persian Standard Time and before the session is over we will have half the room storm off bickering about whether we should have a 'shir' or 'kharchang' (lion or crab) on our flag."


I reluctantly attended anyway and within the first hour I became slightly more optimistic about my own abilities to affect change. Call it typical Persian hyperbole or whatever you will, but by the evening I was armed with all the tools I needed to actually get something done. The blend of typical Iranian warmth with American professionalism perfectly satisfied my taste.


I went back home and scheduled meeting after meeting with my representatives, all of whom were Republican.  I realized that you don't have to be blue with sadness by virtue of being a blue dot in a red state. And if you're purple like me, then there's even greater hope. I'm not in the business of singing the praises of one group over another, but if you are an Iranian-American and you care about your community, then step up to the plate and attend a workshop.


We are all brimming with energy, passion and dynamism, yet too few of us have any clue about what to do with it. Democracy is not a mysterious thing and this is an invitation not just to demystify our political system but also to rid yourself from the terrible yoke of apathy.

... Payvand News - 02/02/10 ... --

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