Iran is Burning

I’ve struggled to put my thoughts and feelings into words over the last few weeks. It feels like two forces are working against each other inside me at all times. One is begging and pushing me to speak and cry out, while the other just as quickly takes my breath and voice away, leaving me speechless — my lungs crushed under the weight of what I need to say but also can’t find the words for. Funny enough, these two Instagram posts have helped me make sense of some of my internal processes, and get this writing going:

Iran is burning. Iran is burning. Iran is burning.

A country I’ve never stepped foot in – but am forever intimately tied to – is burning. It burns in the name of women, life, and freedom. It burns for the generations of young girls forced into marriage. It burns for the countless girls and women who’ve been raped, beaten, and murdered. It burns for the religious minorities – like my fellow Baha’is – who’ve dared to care for their country with a love that is pure and free of political machinations. It burns for the thousands of people – like my parents – who had to abandon everything they knew and travel to completely foreign lands for the sake of their future, and their children’s future. It burns for my grandfather who died under “mysterious” circumstances when the national police infiltrated his workplace. It burns for all the fathers, mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, sons, daughters, uncles, and aunts who are tied to a land full of beautiful history and culture, but also horrible oppression and tyranny.

Iran is burning — while I comfortably sit here. Watching from afar. Watching a country that I’ve never outwardly cared for. A culture I resented for much of my life. A language I’ve barely held onto.  Values I vaguely know. Connections I’ve made little to no attempts to maintain. It fills me with worry. With fear. With guilt. With an acute sensitivity to how – in some ways – the fact that I didn’t grow up in Iran is completely accidental. My parents happened to get out. Partly because they happened to be Bahá’ís. And they happened to move to different parts of the world where I experienced my upbringing. At any point, the slightest change could have resulted in a completely different life. I’d still be in Iran today. Maybe I’d be imprisoned/beaten for being a Bahá’í. I certainly wouldn’t have been given access to an education. Maybe I wouldn’t have been a Bahá’í at all. Either way, I see the amazing number of people of all ages out in droves standing in solidarity with each other, and I can’t help but wonder how many of them would have been my friends? My classmates? My colleagues? My cousins? How many of them would I have seen beaten, tortured, thrown in jail, murdered, raped, and executed? Just for standing for justice, love, and freedom? I see them. I see them. I see them.

Iran is burning, and it’s revealed a stronger connection than I ever knew existed to a Motherland I’ve never stepped foot in; a hope for a brighter future that I never even considered in my lifetime; a gratitude for the unbelievable powers of the human spirit – and the feminine spirit in particular – to push for monumental positive change for entire communities; even more rage towards patriarchal oppression; and so much more that I’m still trying to figure out how to put into words.

Iran is burning. And I sit here watching with a terrifying mix of emotions: rage at the murder of countless people – including dozens of children – fighting for a better future, fear for the lives of the thousands upon thousands putting their bodies at risk, incredible pride at the resilience, fearlessness, and solidarity the people of Iran – my people – are showing, and – what I’m trying to keep at the forefront of these feelings – hope for a future Iran defined by true freedom. An Iran I might one day visit without fear of persecution.

Iran is burning. And I can’t wait to see just how much of the old world order is devoured in its flames, so that the new world may grow in its place — fresh, verdant, resplendent, and free.



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