Iranians celebrate their New Year at the Spring Equinox. At 4:30:21 am Friday 21 March 2003 Tehran Time, the length of the day and night will become equal. Good and Evil will balance out, to use a Zoroastrian analogy. On that hour, Iranian families stand next to their traditional New Year table at the center of which sits a bowl of gold fish. Hours earlier the War will have started. Good and Evil will have become equal. TehranAvenue.com Farsi editor SIMA SAEEDI offers her New Year resolution somewhat unconventionally this year.
When you read this New Year toast I don’t know what the world will be looking like. Perhaps bombs will be dropping (the holey surface of War) and Iraqis will be busy searching for their dead in the rubbles (the white face of Terror). Maybe the world will be mourning the absence of love and care. Maybe us, Iranians, will not be spared the havocs of War. And many other maybes.
To be sure, last year passed with the speed of light. It passed despite unhappy and difficult moments. I don’t intend to review what came to pass, because I can do so only in anger. I will speak instead of my dreams, of our dreams, the same ones that we realize are impossible or hard to reach. I don’t want to mention the helplessness that we all feel. I am worried. The anxiety of the world has taken hold of me and the speed of events is such that I can forget about it all.
These days are days of disquiet. Someone tells me that I am exaggerating miseries too much. I want to say no, but then when I walk the streets of the city, I see the bustle of the New Year shoppers, busy doing what they do every end-year. Tidal waves of cars and people move about as if no evil specter is hanging over their heads. To me, people seem indifferent to what is about to take place. But I know no one is ignorant. We are a strange nation ? so much poverty and such indifference. We are a nation of people who won’t register danger unless it is at our doorstep. We get out of crises as quickly as we get into them. We have learned to live in the moment ? the world is a gasp, breath as if you were doing your last.
Truly, what awaits us and what are we hoping for? A miracle that may never take place? What will happen if the war breaks? What will happen to us? We don’t know, we simply pray for it not to get any worst than it is. But war will do its thing. There is no escaping death when bombs start to come down. We have experienced eight years of war. Not until it reached the gates of our city did we realize its devastating consequences. You will think that with all that we have been through, we would be inflicted with mortal horror at the prospects of another war. But no, we go on with our lives as if nothing is happening.
Yesterday Saddam Hussein spoke of globalizing the war. He vowed over the body of Iraqis to stand up to the aggressor, thinking that this will open the door to a minoritarian salvation. Bush has no face to save and he will send his soldiers to the gallows, thinking that this will be of long-term interest. No one knows how the people of Iraq will take this war. Will they flee through routes supposedly opened to them? How many millions will be able to escape? No one knows how long American soldiers will be bogged down in the ravaged landscape of Mesopotamia. Will they escape injury when the angels of surgical death rain down on their adversary? The human tragedy about to unfold is beyond seasonal changes. And now we are at the threshold of the spring season.
Some in Iran think that War in the Middle East will ultimately be to our benefit. It will bring us freedom, they argue, save our economy, and improve our standard of living. If nothing else, this logic is founded on bloodshed. War will do us no good. Pandemonium and anarchy are the only fallouts. We still haven’t forgotten Algeria. No outside power intended to bring political balance to that country. At the end, extremism won the day, and extremists had no alternative but to appeal to violence. Reactionary power is readily inclined to violence, and here in Iran we have various centers of reactionary power. It is only natural to be pessimistic. Iran today has no alternative but to move towards a peaceful civil society, a society founded on power from below. Any other option would spawn violence from above. War will give reactionary power every pretext it needs to crackdown.
When the year comes to an end and when our small goldfishes circle their small bowl, what will we wish for? Will we hope for no bombs to fall and no bullets to fire?
SIMA SAEEDI is a writer living in Teheran. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org