|Expo 67 - Iran Pavilion|
When I attended Expo 67 nearly 40 years ago, it was a time infused with a great deal of hope that ordinary people could really know something about people in other countries, and that mutual understanding could be the basis of peace.
Pretty amazing -- considering that, at the time, we were barely glimpsing the possibilities of modern travel and communications.
I recall that around that time I learned about Iran by reading the article about it in our home set of the World Encyclopedia. (An "encyclopedia" was a book that contained articles on many subjects . . . . )
I also recall that a little more than ten years later -- in the fall of 1978 -- I was working on a story for the college paper about the student unrest in Iran. I looked up a professor in the telephone book (a "telephone book" was . . . well, you get the picture . . . .) and asked for comment. "Look for the return of a guy named Ayatollah Khomeini, who is currently exiled in Paris . . . . " he told me.
|All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer|
Fast forward another 25 years, to the early 2000s, and I finally had a way to get essential background on US relations with Iran, reading All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer. I highly recommend it: "The book discusses the 1953 Iranian coup d'état backed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in which Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran's prime minister, was overthrown by Islamists supported by American and British agents (chief among them Kermit Roosevelt) and royalists loyal to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi."
In the past decade or so, I've found the films of Iran to be an especially powerful bridge between our two countries.
|February 4, 2012, rallies to say "No War on Iran"|
It is the easiest thing in the world to paint people in other countries as "scary" and to say that they are the kind of people that we have to be prepared to fight. It takes real effort (and courage!) to do the work required to learn about people, to begin to understand them, to engage in dialogue, and to step forward as an advocate for peace.
The moment of truth
July 14, 2015: "Landmark deal reached on Iran nuclear program."
The negotiators worked hard to come to agreement. AND . . .
The deal agreed to by our countries' leaders would never have happened without continuous pressure from the people of our two countries.
Now is the time for all of us to recognize that the people -- not leaders -- are the key to insisting that the path of peace be pursued. People must, in large numbers, send a clear message to their representatives that they want this agreement implemented, and they want this model of peaceful resolution of conflicts to replace the resort to militarism and violence. (See "World Beyond War Supports Iran Deal" )
There will be no shortage of members of Congress who see this as an opportunity to puff out their chests and wave their arms and insist on continued conflict.
It will be the work of the people to insist that the path of peace be followed through.
Update: September 1, 2015
Yesterday, I was one of the people at a vigil outside a Mike Quigley event here in Chicago - urging everyone there (including the congressman) to support the #IranDeal. Based on what Robert Naiman heard inside, he's leaning yes.
Naiman said in his article about the event: "[T]he first question after the talk was: 'What is your position on the deal?' A moderator later said something like: there were 34 questions, and 30 of them were on the Iran deal. . . . The fact that so many questions were on the Iran deal certainly reflects engagement and interest from the City Club of Chicago audience; it may also reflect the fact that people who came to the event were greeted by people with'"No War With Iran' and 'Defend Diplomacy' signs."
Thanks to colleagues all over the country who are showing up in large numbers to urge their representatives to pursue the path of peace. This is what democracy looks like!
|August 31, 2015: Vigil outside luncheon event for Rep. Mike Quigley (IL-5):|
"Defend Diplomacy" and "No War with Iran!"
(See A Force for Peace: Getting to Know Iran Through Film)
(See IRAN: 3 Reality Checks on the Emerging U.S. Narrative)
(See Why Does Iran Arouse So Much Hostility?)
(See #NoIranWar )
After a call to resist U.S. war moves against Iran went out just a few days ago, the list of February 4, 2012, rallies to say "No Iran War!" is growing FAST.
(See No Iran War Rallies EVERYWHERE! )