Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iranian Elections 2009

June 12, 2009 will go down as a historical day in the history of Iran. It will be marked as a day when the Iranian people demanded a free and fair election from their government. Not since the national referendum on April 1, 1979 when the people of Iran had one choice (an Islamic Republic, yes or no) have they been so insistent that their vote mean something. Putting fear aside, they have refused to accept an election tainted by obvious perfidy. Massing in the streets some two hundred thousand strong and ignoring the presence of the police and security forces they are raising their voices and demanding their votes count.

In a culture, that predates the birth of Christ by some 2500 years this event is potentially more momentous then any other. If the Iranian people are successful in backing down the mullahs, Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader, especially without massive strife and loss of life, it will be a singularly remarkable achievement. In their long, long history, they have always been subjected to a government retaining all power unto itself and repressive to one degree or another. Granted that sometimes they have had beneficent rulers and even a constitutional monarchy at one time, they have never had control of their own destiny.

Freedom is not something you can give to or bestow on a nation. Freedom can only be had when a people are determined to be free. To paraphrase John Fitzgerald Kennedy, they must be willing to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of their liberty. In other words, they must be willing to die for it. It seems the Iranian people have reached a point in their history, where they will not easily be denied their freedom.

For the sake of regional stability and peace in addition to our belief in self-government, we should all hope they succeed. The invalidation of the results announced before they could have even been tabulated, would send a number of strong messages around the world. It would of course remind the extremist fundamentalist clerics in Iran and elsewhere that most Muslims want to live in peace with the rest of the world. It would send the same message to Al Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah. It would remind Israel and the hard line Christen fundamentalist that not every Muslim wants Armageddon. It would tell President Obama and the rest of the world that the Iranian people were listening when he spoke in Cairo.

It is hard to know what if any impact that speech had on this election. Undoubtedly, the President’s ratcheting down of the dialogue between America and Islam has had some positive effect on world opinion. Hardliners will say he is an apologist and weak, a radical in sheep’s clothing, even a secret Muslim. These people are different from radical political criminals only in their behavior. Their motivation and thinking are the same, based on fear and hate.

It is a particularly horrific part of human nature, which makes some people search for reasons to hate other people. Discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, greed, hate or sex are especially abhorrent. There is undoubtedly evil lurking in the hearts and minds of some men. Frequently it manifests itself as a thirst for power, a desire for revenge over some ancient or perceived insult, a feeling of racial superiority or religious intolerance. The manifestations of such evil are horribly terrifying to those not so afflicted or should be.

Even today, there is still slavery and genocide happening in the world. There are drug cartels, regional warlords, terrorist groups and criminal enterprises of every ilk plying their trades and spreading their evil. These kinds of people are a vociferous and dangerous element of society.

Like any criminals, they deserve to be hunted down, given a fair trial and incarcerated for their crimes. It is a grievous mistake though to assume that all of their co religionist, fellow citizens, family members or people of the same ethnicity are alike unto them.

Not all Christens are faithful followers of Christ or fundamentalist Christen zealots. Not all Muslims are faithful followers of Islam or fundamentalist Islamic extremist. Notwithstanding the example of Indonesia, the people of Iran, regardless of the eventual outcome, have proven that. Their thirst and desire for freedom are evident and worthy of approbation and support.

Now if only the people of Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan will take a page out of the Iranian people’s playbook maybe the Israeli Palestinian situation can be resolved quickly and peacefully. The resources of the world’s countries would serve humanity better if turned to eradicating hunger, disease, poverty, ignorance and crime. Maybe then, we could concentrate on alternative fuels, physics, philosophy, the arts and humanities. A utopian vision, yes, but one worth pursuing. If more of the worlds people had the vision and courage the Iranians have displayed since this election anything would be possible.

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