Wednesday, March 7, 2012
“Politicians come and go. The people are here to stay.” – Rick Stevens
In 2008, Rick Stevens traveled to Iran to see if the country matched the images Americans see in the United States. Not surprisingly, he found some of Iran to be like what is shown on American television, but he also found so much more.
The people of Iran were genuinely glad to see him. He recalls asking Iranians to guess where he was from. Typically, they would wrongly guess five or five different countries before he told them he was from the United States. Instead of shouting “Death to America!”, however, they inevitably smiled at him, welcoming him warmly as, perhaps, the first actual American they had ever met. Stevens felt as though the people of Iran didn’t hate Americans, although they might hate America’s leaders.
Why would they hate America’s leaders? Because they scare them. In 2008, for example, presidential candidate John McCain parodied the Beach Boys with his version of “Bomb Iran.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton noted that Iran would be “obliterated” is Iran attacked Israel. In other words, it’s not too surprising to learn that the average rank and file person in Iran is not jumping with joy to hear the way American political leaders' use of hard-line talk, any more than Americans are happy to hear the president of Iran talking about wiping Israel from the world map.
Stevens never tried to justify what Iran or its leaders do “wrong,” but he does suggest something quite simple and quite powerful: Get to know Iran. Get to know its people, and you will discover that they are much like people anywhere in the world. They care about their families, their futures, and their country.
Iran is a country to discover.
Where have you traveled in the world? Where would you like to go? Would you consider going to Iran for a visit?