Humans of Iran and US
There were two events last week which indicated how important public diplomacy can be when dealing with relationships between countries. After visiting Iran, a New York based photographer, Brandon Staton has posted pictures about people in Iran on his blog http://www.humansofnewyork.com/ . His posts have been well received by both Iranians and Americans.
This is how he begins his part on Iran:
"The US Government has a lengthy travel warning for Iran. While not advising you to ignore this warning, I do advise that you balance it with direct accounts of Americans who have recently visited the country. These accounts are generally filled with superlatives— the country is beautiful, the history is rich, and the people are eager to demonstrate their almost-sacred commitment to hospitality. "
The captions under the pictures are both meaningful and inspiring:
"Curves are everywhere in Eastern culture: our writing, our architecture, our instruments, the way we dance, even the tone of our language is curved. The West was built on angles. The East was built on curves."
More interesting are the the readers’ comments which are eye opening. Many express the fact that they did not believe they could find such scenes in Iran , many have said that they enjoy seeing the pictures of Iranians. Some said that the human connection in these pictures have helped them see a different image from that portrayed by the mainstream media in the US. While the US administration is preparing the public opinion for a confrontational approach, people are attempting to open new vistas for friendship and cooperation for peace.
In a more heartwarming but ultimately tragic story, many in Iran and in the mountain-climbing community worldwide were transfixed by the story of three Iranian mountaineers, Aydin Bozorgi, Pouya Keyvan and Mojtaba Jarahi who went missing after completing a daring new ascent of Pakistan’s daunting Broad Peak (8047m). The team had fixed the Iranian flag at the summit to open a new path in the name of Iran but while descending they had lost contact and went missing. In spite of the rescue attempts the missing mountaineers were never found. This created a huge social media campaign in Iran. The most interesting point in this tragic story was that an American climber named Scott Powrie, who hiked alongside the Iranian climbers, memorialized their generosity and Iranian hospitality in a moving personal blog post:
“Base camp life with the guys was wonderful. I learned how to say "pass that food" and "thank you" in Farsi and the guys learned all the slang I could teach them from my California accent. They had brought many goods from Iran, Cheese, meats, pickled vegetables, yogurt, dried fruit and nuts. This was their own food to sustain them for the entire expedition and they did not need to share. But they were very giving and wanted us to feel welcome and try their local cuisine, offering all of what they had for us to try.”
Scott goes on to say:”In this world I have been lucky enough to live in many different places and meet many different people. Some good, some bad and in some rare cases you meet some who evoke a powerful feeling of good inside you, almost like a white light of happiness. These people are very rare and are the ones that make this world a better place to live in for all of us. There are so few of these special people on this earth that if you lose even a few there are tremendous negative effects for the rest of us. Aidin, Pouyu, and Mojtaba are of these few, rare people. The world will miss these young souls; I will miss these young souls. They were my friends and I am sad to see them go. My heart goes out to the families and friends of these individuals. The entire Iranian team was a great show of talent and character, an amazing reflection of their country from which they came.”
As reports of the unsuccessful rescue attempts were verified, news agencies reported that sanctions restrictions had impeded the flow of information on the location of the mountaineers using Thuraya cellphones . These sanctions are taking many lives, among the ordinary people particularly those in need of special medications, members of Congress and the US administration better realize that they are complicit in the suffering of Iranians as well as Iraqi’s , Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians.
These events preceeded news in the mainstream media that the American Congress adopted a new set of crippling sanctions against the Iranian nation only a few days before the inauguration of the moderate President Dr. Rouhani. This unfriendly message was unfortunate since the Iranian nation had delivered a clear message by electing Rouhani and they expected to hear a rational response to this decision, but it seems that this clear signal has fallen on deaf ears and that radical elements on both sides wish to aggravate the situation. There is no question that the powerful Zionist lobby in the congress and senate are pushing for a confrontational approach against Iran. Their existence depends on escalation of conflict between the US and Iran.
Civil society groups , Iranians residing in the US and political activists should all engage in a serious effort to bring to light the aspirations of the people to connect and mend ties in a spirit of just and balanced relations. Now that the Iranians have made their selection, it is upon the American society to take action to prevent the neocon and Zionist Christian lobby from taking affairs in their hands. Confrontation benefits the military industry in the US for they can sell more arms to fearful Arab neighbors who are being fed with the fake phobia of a “nuclear Iran”. Peace benefits nations who are weary of interventionist policies in the region and seek security and calm for their children and families who now have been suffering from the calamities of war, conflict and sanctions for several years.