Omid Memarian

Friday, August 05, 2005

Heroes and Iranian Society

In recent years much has been said about the notion that the period of heroes in Iranian society has passed. Perhaps President Khatami’s emphasis that he is not a hero has added to this trend. In my opinion the presence or absence of individuals who are raised to the status of a hero depends on idealism and look to the future, rather than the realities of a society or the trends in it. In fact, we like our society to be at such a developed state that socio-political change would not need supermen and their extra-ordinary deeds. In other words, it should not be necessary to risk a life to have a law or a government program changed. Our ideal is that social change is carried out through social and political institutions. A society in which power is transparent while corruption, in any of its variations, costly.

SHahraf rafzadeh, Akbar Ganji, I and Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, the arrested Journalists at the last meetin with Akbar Ganji

Change in such a society takes place through the appropriate and constructive instruments. Law is supreme and above people. It is this process that is key, while they too can be changed. In such a society Akbar Ganji (political prisoner currently on a hunger strike in protest against his detention conditions) would not be in jail for 62 months. Ganji’s imprisonment is the product of a politically undeveloped society which has no institutions for socio-political change. Therefore any social change comes at great social and individual cost.

The absence of a solid civil society that can respond to power, of strong political parties, of a political system that cultivates a variety of political structures leads to a darkroom and in the final analysis to underdeveloped social and political movements in which the burden of change falls onto the individual rather than appropriate institutions.
Akbar Ganji is a person who has had to pay dearly for such a change. In a society where many institutions for social movements are dormant, Ganji’s resistance and struggle for acknowledgement of what he considers a right, are heroic. But more than telling us about Ganji, it tells us about what kind of a society we have.

Heroes are born in societies where any social change, small or large, requires personal sacrifice. The shifting of red-lines, the expression of issues that are covered up, the creation of energy in dormant forces and the creation of situations where political activists can function are only some of the changes that bear a price. So when social and political institutions lack the power to effect social change, individuals and the price they have to pay become the saviors.

With this perspective, Iranian society has produced many heroes. Individuals who have lit a shinning candle regarding an issue and thus thrown light and hope where darkness prevailed. Today, all those who struggle to acquire the due rights of women and change the laws relating to their status, deserve to be called heroes. These individuals struggle in a social atmosphere in which there is no institution or even law to support them. And they are the citizens of this land. Similarly, the journalists who despite the rough treatment they themselves and their families have been subjected to during the tough recent years continue to hold their pen and write to enlighten and to expose deserve to be recognized as heroes. As do politicians and political activists who present new perspectives in society to the youth. Many of these individuals have done their deed at a golden moment. One can even add the names of those webloggers who have through their writings exposed something, and forced the politicians and decision makers to contemplate.
All of these individuals who have done something heroic at their golden moment, deserve a hooray .In a way, this is like the gold medals that are awarded to winners. They get their medal for a specific act that may be surpassed in the future. But each has done his/her deed at a particular moment and their heroism is never diminished no matter what. It is this golden moment that effects our destiny and provides energy to the Iranian society.

If we take a look around us and look at the events of this nation during its recent and contemporary days, we will notice many successful social movements and events which owe their mark on the numerous heroes who risked their life, health, freedom, sanity and family. Let’s not be stingy in praising and recognizing them.


*This comment is published in Roozonline daily in Farsi and summerized in English

3 Comments:

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