May 28, 2014

Iran's losing proposition - don't let youth be "Happy"

By now you've probably heard that Iran has jailed everyone in the video below - 6 young Iranians who danced to the Pharrell Williams song Happy.


As the person who uploaded this particular iteration of the video on youtube (it's not the original posting of the video) noted:
About a month ago, 6 Iranian boys and girls (in this video) danced to the famous song by Pharrell Williams called "Happy" on the rooftops of Tehran and uploaded their video on the YouTube. It was widely distributed in the social media. The police decided to track them down and arrest them and make them repent in front of the camera. It then showed this capture on the national TV channels as a bunch of deceived Iranian youth who regretted their deed. In the past 35 years, Islamic Republic has managed to steal freedom and happiness from the Iranian youth and replace it with a culture full of mourning and sorrow. We, too, are human. We, too, have the right to be happy and live happily and learn how to be happy.
What the video points out is two different things that must be remembered.

(1)  Iranian people are like anyone else - individuals, interested in the pursuit of happiness, capable of being happy and eager to do so.  Sometimes people outside of the country forget that fact and that there is a diversity of opinion in Iran.

(2) Those in power in Iran who are suppressing individuality, freedom and the pursuit of happiness through any path other than the one they prescribe (a strict religious adherence with no room for interpretation) are on the wrong side of history.  By stifling your own people you can hold onto power for a time, with increasingly white knuckles.  But the longer you deny people fundamental freedoms the harder it becomes to do so.  The Soviet Union managed to do so for seven decades.  Other countries are seeking to beat that mark.  But you cannot suppress an entire people forever.

At least that has been the case in human history.  Perhaps some day some regime may come along that manages to keep humanity downtrodden indefinitely.  But that time has not come and with the advent of social media, it is even less likely.  

In fact, it is even less likely in Iran.  There is already a diversity of opinion in Iran that undercuts the monolithic government view of the world.  With each rhetoric-fueled suppression, the awareness of something not being right will grow.  And with each instance of defiance, or even self-expression, the justification for a more aggressive crackdown will create a more brutal government response and in turn drive more awareness of the injustice and consequently, more resistance to it.

Iran is not about to erupt into democracy.  They tried that a few years ago and the results, without any international support, were catastrophic.  But you simply cannot suppress ideas with brutality.  If Iran's leadership were so confident in the rightness of their own ideology, they would not feel the need to do so.

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