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Monday, June 22, 2009

Iranians - Hero Worshipers

Unfortunately, Iranians are at heart hero worshippers. Whether it is the Rostam of our ancient epic poem the Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), or Imam Hossein, the martyr-saint of Shiism. People of Iran have got a history of clinging to the notion that one lofty, iconic figure can sweep through their lives, slay their enemies, and turn their world. Often we think history will teach us some sort of lesson, but if we don’t learn from history, history will unfortunately repeat itself.

Perhaps other cultures also believe in heroes, but in my readings and talks with people of all walks of life and cultures I have realized the unique devotion Iranians have to their heroes. They don’t question their hero anymore, as the hero becomes a ‘saint’ without any fault. People become emotionally attached to the image they have created in their minds. Not only do they fall in love with heroes, but they are in love with their love for them.

In voting for Khatami, Iranians believed they had done their part, and they settled back in haze of moony adoration, waiting for him to transform Iran into the paradise of their imaginations. In 2009 we see the same devotion to Mousavi, another reformist, thinking he will be the new ‘saint’ of Iran.
Peoples yearnings have overtaken their realism. Don’t they know what circumscribed powers Iranian constitution affords a president? Are they not aware of the intricate legal framework by which a handful of unelected clerical officials can unravel and determine policy, so as to render a president nearly irrelevant? Will it ever make any difference who the president is?! This is my question in the midst of all the violence we see in the streets


Khashayar said...

While I agree with most of what you are saying regarding the hero worship, I don't think all those people who have lost their lives in the last few days did it for him, it is probably more true to say it was in the struggle for democracy and their rights.

Darius said...

So is this all about picking the lesser of the two evils?

Anonymous said...

Good Point of view. I have wondered about this myself. If the world was perfect then what do we wonder about?

I think hero worship exists outside Iranian society as well. I see different version of hero worship in United States. Bush supporters still think he made America more secure without questioning the cost. Obama followers think he is the best thing happened ever without looking at his spending plans.

I think in Iran's situation Mousavi became the accidental hero. I strongly believe that Iranians will not settle for just change of individuals while constitutional overhaul meant to be the reason for uprising all along.

Best Regards
Persian twitts

Abhishek Rai said...

Elham hi,
I stumbled upon your blog through Twitter. Mankind by nature conjures up a hero and then worships them.
They can be kings, clerics, martyrs,and the new age business tycoons, sportsmen and celebrities.Iran in that case is no different. Since I am in India, which is in a lot of ways similar to Iran, has set its own cage and deified its own culture, tradition and religion.
As long as we do not understand what stands good for us and the individual action is scuttled, we would not be able to succeed.
Since the time memorial we have been like this. Essentially we as humans have not changed.
As Buddha said everything is an experience.
P.S. I might not sound coherent in my comment, but then this is what we are.

Nima said...

Linked you
keep up the good job :)

Hooman said...

Elham Geraami,

I think we have miss read what's going on in Iran past couple of months. I did have your point of view, however few days after the selection I read an open letter from this guy called Peyman in Iran that not only changed my mind about the whole thing, it opened my mind to what’s going on there. At the end of the day I’ve not been there past 13 years and no matter how close I try to keep myself to them because I don’t live there it’s harder to have a better understanding of what’s going on and why they do things the way they do. His letter was published at http://www.newsecularism.com/ which was an answer to Dr. Nooriala that thought today’s generation will make the same mistake and their generation did in 1979.

2 things we MUST consider: 1) there's a no real opposition to lead people's movement 2)people inside Iran are trying to fight with this regime with every thing they have, which it means some times follow likes of Moosavi.
Now that it's almost a month since the selection and people have showed that they are not that stupid and can't be fooled that easily either. Furthermore those who went out and basically put their lives on front didn’t do this for the reformist or because they partly agree with this regime. If they had fallen for the reformist the direction of protests would have shown it. I must admit that before the 22 of Khordaad I shared the same point of view and was so angry of that people going to vote at all let alone follow someone like Moosavi whose hand is still bloody from all the killings in 80s. Nonetheless, today I bow to my fellow Iranian country men and women particularly in our beloved homeland but also around this glob that have showed how much they have matured compare to 30 years ago. Heroism is not only for US every where in the world people love heroes and worship them, but it’s only through education and opening people’s mind will stop them from believing a hero is saint and has no fault. Even that hero is a religious figure like Hosien the 3rd Imam. The have realized that they should not let a religion (no matter which one) to decide for them. They want themselves to take control of their destiny and live their lives based on their wisdom and brain rather than a hero (a religion or other believes) to dictate life to them.

Till 22nd of Khordaad I thought only a minority of Iranians have reached that maturity, however today I happily admit that I was wrong and proud of our people’s movement. This is the beginning of a resonance that has started in our personal lives as well as our public lives and I’ve no doubt that it will lead to a secular society which is run based on wisdom rather and myths, heroes, ideologies or any religion. It’s not going to be easy nor it’s going to be without any price, nevertheless I think at the moment majority of our people come to share the same dream.

TheTruth said...

If you really believe Mousavi would be just like Khatami and not keep any of his promises you are completely wrong. If Mousavi's post election reaction has shown us anything, it is that he wouldn't have backed down. He would have done his best to keep the promises he made and do absolutely everything in his power even if it meant confronting the supreme leader. Khatami was a guy that although had good intentions, didn't do much because he wanted to avoid confrontation. This is not the case with Mousavi which he has proved by going out so strongly against the government and their actions in this election. You're a naiv idealist. A complete and radical system change in Iran is impossible and it wouldn't do much good. The country would fall into chaos before properly resurrecting itself and this could have damaging effect on the economy which could take decades to fix. The reason so many believe in the reformists is, because of the fact that change has to come slowly not suddenly. Have we learned nothing from the past? 1979, everything went so swiftly and in the end everything got screwed up BECAUSE it went so swiftly.

Anonymous said...

How about you see the Iranians from your own point of view not others. And start studying a bit more before you generalize this way. Are u talking about more than 70 million people here?!! I suggest you get to know your country its people and their situation better, if you count yourself as an Iranian. And before judging people put yourself in that time and situation and then call people whatever you want to call them. I Did not even guess that you are a journalist by reading this.

Anonymous said...

سلام دوستان فقط ميخوام بگم همه شما از سقوط هواپيما ايراني خبر دارين به خانواده هاي حادثه ديده هم تسليت ميگم. ولي تو رو خدا يه نگاه به شبکه هاي تلوزيون خودتون نگاه کنيد هيچ خبري از عزاي عمومي نيست ولي اگه واسه غزه بود تا يه هفته ايران تو غم بود.اينو به

Dan said...

I am somehow agree with you. I think the problem comes from their religion and viewpoint. People in Iran has always been looking for a hero, who has the power to fight against evil, tyranny and ...
As we see, usualy in our country carismatic leaders can rule over the people and can form ideas and approaches that lead society to where the want.
I think the time has come for us to be realistic and realize that only God can make changes and we dont have to trust in people, and stop believing in false religions and ideas of the past.

Amir Behravan said...

Iran is not the same place that you remember, much has changed, the people have changed.