Monday, September 6, 2010

The Iranian Struggle has not Ended

As most of you know, I was heavily involved in the foreign support of the Iranian presidential election protesters effort last year. It was a hot issue that got a lot of media attention. For about three weeks, you couldn't turn on the television or visit a news website without finding multiple article or reports of the latest bloody crackdown of the Iranian government on its citizens. Ahmadinejad had illegitimately seized power and there wasn't anyone who was going to take it away from him. In true dictator form, he began the systematic arrest, abuse, torture, and killing of anyone who dared raise their voice to speak against his regime.

But that didn't silence the people of Iran.

Night after night, thousands of people took to the rooftops and could be heard shouting "God is great!" in an effort to show solidarity with each other and to send a message to Tehran that even the mighty Ahmadinejad could not tread past a certain point. More arrests were made, more torture was done, and more innocent Iranians died. Then, almost as suddenly as it all began, it was over.

No news coverage.
No newspaper articles railing against the regime.
No flood of tweets hitting Twitter or messages going over Facebook.
It was almost as though the month of bloodshed had never happened.

But it did happen and it continues to happen to this day. Though we don't see it on the news and don't read about it in the papers, the struggle for freedom continues unabated in Iran. People still gather in the streets to protest the dictator, people still take to the rooftops from time to time, people still exert their human rights every single day even in the face of unspeakable brutality. And, yes, the brutality continues just as unabated as the protests; just as brutal as July 2009. But, now, the world seems to have forgotten. Or is it just the United States?

It would be difficult for an American citizen to find much out about what's going on in Iran right now. With news of the Tiger Woods divorce, sport scandals, and Paris Hilton's drug problems, I imagine there just isn't much time left to cover things that most people don't care about. Things like innocent people being beaten and raped and murdered. Things like seven month old children being aborted so that their mother can face execution because Iranian law forbids the execution of a pregnant woman. No, those things take a back seat to our overriding desire to be protected from the reality of our modern world.

But the struggle continues. Brave men and women are still fighting for their freedom in Iran. They are still hell bent on being a free, open, democratic nation. Even in a land where many have never tasted freedom, it burns in their hearts like a read hot poker tearing at their very skin to get out. And it does get out. And it will get out. Because you simply can't keep a freedom loving human in chains. It doesn't matter how much you beat them or how many guns you have, they will find freedom or die seeking it. Maybe that is the ultimate freedom.

As Americans, we tend to forget those who don't enjoy the same freedoms we do. We can't imagine how a struggle 10,000 miles away could possibly affect us. But it does. Because every person that dies at the hand of Ahmedinejad or dictators like him kills a little spark of our collective humanity and a little bit of the hope for freedom in someone's heart. We cannot sit idly by and allow our brothers and sisters in Iran to fight their fight alone. It is time that we stand up and let our voices be heard shouting along with them - every bit as angry and pissed off as they are. It is time that we send a CLEAR message to Tehran that we, the American people, DO NOT accept an illegitimate, abusive government just because our cowardly leaders in Washington do.

It is time that we put the words "brother and sister" into action because, in the end, that's exactly what we are. And I'll be damned if anyone is going to steal freedom from my family.