Friday, February 27, 2004
Thursday, February 26, 2004
In most of the cases in life people act like a herd of sheep. They just accept and follow the rules and never question them. Neither they experience the alternative 'answers' (meaning answrs other than religion or any established tradition) because those alternative ways look too risky and too frightening too follow. Living in a way not dictated by the traditions looks like a tunnel to them, a tunnel that its end is unclear.
This herd of sheep are looking for certainty, not truth. They need someone to show them a "road" with a clear beginning and destination. They choose to believe in that road, even if they know that that road is just a lie: it is much easier to follow a false imaginary clear road than entering a real tunnel with an unknown end.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
'Like a man traveling in foggy weather: Those at some distance before him on the road he sees wrapt up in a fog, as well as those behind him, and also the people in the fields on each side; but near him all appears clear. Tho' in truth he is as much in the fog as any of them.'
Friday, February 06, 2004
A few years ago I was in Recife, Brazil. I visited a site that was made in the memory of those who were tortured and killed during the years of pro-American military dictatorship. The main monument there was made in the memory of those who were tortured by the infamous "parrot's perch" torture rack. Next to the monument there were plaques on the ground in the memory of some of the most prominent intellectuals, poets, and writers of the city who were killed by the military regime during those years. Some of them were socialists, some independent dissidents, some were communists, and some were religious people from Theology of Liberation movement.
Visiting that site I thought of Iran, how similar we are in our experience of dictatorship, and how similarly we are treated when we want to realize our dreams of democracy and freedom of speech. I thought one day we should have something similar to that memorial monument and those plaques, remembering all those who were tortured and killed in Iran because of their believes regardless of their faith or idealogy, either they were monarchist, communist, Muslim, nationalist, or a human rights activist.
I don't know if this happens in my lifetime or not. I don't know if the Iranian nation can understand the idea of democracy at this point of their history the way Brazilian people understand it. It seems years of hate and years of following the logic of "an eye for en eye" has blinded the Iranian nation. We have forgotten the concept of forgiveness.
Thursday, February 05, 2004
The first time I heard the words “American Dream” was from a co-worker, a few months after I came to America. It was evening. We were coming back from a day of hard work, and he was giving me a ride back home. After a brief dialogue about the work and the hardship of daily life he asked me “So,... what is YOUR American dream?”
I didn’t understand what he meant. “American” dream? What did that mean? I could have understood if he has asked me “what is your dream for the future” or “Do you see any future for yourself in America?” Instead he asked me about “MY American Dream.” I asked him what he meant by “American Dream.” He looked strangely at me and changed his question to something like “What are you gonna do here.”
It is amazing how certain ideas are so accepted as axioms for many Americans. Why should a nation so self-righteously believe in its own existence as a realization of a dream? Maybe the question here is not a “why” but a “how.” How is it possible that a mediocre lifestyle imagines itself as the realization of excellence? What gives a nation so much confidence to export its American Way of Life™ to anywhere it decides? To some extent it reminds me of Iran under Khomeini in its early days, when the extremists wanted to export their revolutionary Islam to the rest of the world and save them from their demonic life.
* * *
America is an incomprehensible place. It is a place that is designed for actively forgetting about every thing real in life. It is a republic of grocery stores and gas stations. A nation that is obsessed with celebrities’ personal lives and “saving” on shopping. A place whose “democracy” is simplified to choosing between two parties which are basically the same, and its “Love for the Country” is reduced to a certain definition dictated by the government.
To the sleeping nation of the United States this life certainly is a dream, an American Dream.
Parade - Hoboken, New Jersey
By Robert Frank, From the book "The Americans".