I was ten year-old when one day I asked my father "Why should we love our country?" and "Why should we be proud of it?" After all, Iran didn't have any thing to offer me as a child except a feeling of shame. Every summer, on our way to Shiraz (my parents' native city) we just could see poor people, dirty toilets, and ugly cities -ruined and devastated. How could I be proud of such a place? The whole experience of my "vatan" (homeland) was in such a contrast with what I used to see on the television about the rest of the world: "Khaarej" (meaning abroad) was a place where everything was clean and right, somewhere that made you able to be proud of it, but unfortunately couldn't accept me as a member.
Quarter a century later I still see that inferiority complex about "Khaarej" in my country's young generation. In this 25 years I developed a love for Iranian culture, began to see how stupid the race-based patriotism and nationalism is and how it differs from the love for the culture you are raised in. But how the Iranian young generation of today can overcome the feeling of inferiority and accept himself/herself as Iranian? With the erosion of religion as a solution to the problems of Iranian nation, I see nationalism as the next danger whose shadow is coming forward from this dark landscape of Iranian politics.
Photo by: Hengameh Golestan