Whenever I start reading a new book, blog, article, I read a few lines, and then I try to find some sort of biography of the person I am reading. I’m not sure what it is, but a little bit of information gives me a better … feel … for the piece on which I am about to embark. In front of me, I have the entirety of their being summed up in a paragraph, page or volume. And it means a lot to me to know a bit about this person.
But now, as I try to write a piece about myself, it feels really, quite odd. I mean, what part of “me” do I define? I can begin by stating my name, age, occupation. But are those really who “I” am? … I am a mix of everything, and nothing significant at all. So where do you I begin?
I’ll begin with my age. I’d like to think I’m 15. But the sad truth is that I am actually 16. I love watching sunsets, and sunrises. The only problem is that I love to sleep in. Certainly a problem for watching a sunrise – it doesn’t wait around for anybody.
I love reading, or at least I used to love reading before school drove me six feet under. I love to paint … but I don’t know how. I love to play on my guitar … but don’t know how to do that either. I love to buy spices … I know how to do that very well.
I have been an engineering student in Tehran for the past few years. For those of you who failed ninth grade Geography, Tehran is the capital of Iran. A country of roughly 70 million inhabitants situated in the Middle East. If you don’t know where that is either, then, well, close this page now and go lie down, because you could inflict great harm to yourself and those around you.
I am praying to god that this will be my last and final semester in engineering, because to tell the truth, it’s been god awful. I can’t tell the difference between a MOSFET and a light bulb, or distinguish the Fourier series from a hash table (I can, but trying to soundly overtly melodramatic here). ENOUGH. The world would be a much safer place if people all did what they were made to do … Of course, if that were to happen, some of our most renown world leaders would have to resign and start burger joints or shoeshine stands.
But hey, since they don’t look like they’ll be doing that any time soon (have you in recent years heard more atrocious news than Tony Blair become head Middle East peace envoy??!!!!!!) I thought I’d start with me. I really don’t think I was cut out to be an engineer, and so won’t attempt at being one much longer. Of course, then the next question is: what were you cut out to do? … Take over the world? Join a burping contest? chew gum? … None sound like very promising careers. I really don’t know what I was cut out to do. And if I say the same in a years time … I am definitely screwed.
I know one thing though: I don’t think the world I live in is very livable. I live in one of the most promising, and yet perished regions of the world. I have lived through a war, and been born within five years of a revolution. To a lot of people, those are just words belonging to “The Count of Monte Cristo” or “The Three Musketeers”. But in other parts of the world, that is everyday life … even now.
And I can’t change any of that. I’d certainly like to think I can. When you are young, you have this feel in your gut that tells you anything is possible … Young people have an almost biological tendency to be hopeful. So I’d like to think I have the “power” (no, not the kind Snap! croons) … But the sad truth is, well, I don’t.
That’s another thing about me: I’m very realistic. Amir, my mom, my friends, my relatives, my teachers, … all like to say that I am pessimistic, but they’re all just bullshitting. I’m simply realistic. And I certainly know that the world, I can not change.
But I have something to say. It makes me want the whole world to hear it.
So if I were to sit down here, at my computer and depict myself, in a melodramatic, serious tone and use a few paragraphs to do it, it would sound something like the following. If I tried really hard to tell you of “me”, and my inner most thoughts, feelings, … it would sound something like this:
I am not convinced that the choices we make and the decisions we come to are solely based on desires and wishes that randomly perturb our mind. Rather, they are a direct consequence of the circumstances with which we are faced. Those very events go on to define the way we perceive ourselves as individuals. They not only shape who we are – but who we strive to become … The very fibers of our humanity.
I was born amidst Kalashnikov bullets and F-14 bombs, sheltered by my grandfather’s garden of citrus blossoms. The war for me as a child only meant families coming together in my grandfather’s beautiful villa. In contrast, it was really one huge family fleeing from bombs to gather in a shelter distant from the city bombings. Red alerts from radio stations predicting – and never actually protecting – more deaths were signs of getting my hands on more candy – candy saved by elders for exactly those occasions to calm our fears.
Through childhood naivety and parental shelter, I never understood what was really going on around me until years after it was over. Some children were like me … But most weren’t that lucky.
In some ways, the war that was fought over 16 years ago is still as alive and vivid as it has ever been. Children paralyzed and scarred are now grown adults being nurtured by their elderly parents. Boys who quit school after the death of a father are grappling to make a living without an education. Husbands and fathers damaged by the weapons of war fight – and lose – their battle with disease even today.
I am a 23 year old born after a revolution, and within miles of a bloody war in one of the most tumultuous regions of the world. A region plagued for centuries by the ignorance of its own people and the brutality of outsiders. And I am convinced the only way – the only tool – for not only blockading, but destroying the naivety, the ignorance and the greed that boils killing and tumult is to breed understanding. An understanding of why those atrocities have happened. To decipher the pain that they have brought. And to fathom why their occurrence must be prevented by any means necessary. Not just on a regional level, but a global one. More than ever, as we come to realize this “global village” that has come to define our world, we need to escort it with a sense of global understanding.
…… And that’s where I come in. Well, so does everybody.
“We” the ordinary masses, don’t have anything. We’re nameless, faceless, penniless (in comparison to the billions of dollars being emptied into certain pockets as we speak), and completely, and utterly powerless. We have nothing, and no thing at all. No means of doing anything significant except possibly getting a job with a good law firm or engineering company. And hoping that through being “good” and “righteous” in our own lives, “we can make a difference” … Sure, if that helps you go to sleep at night, ok.
But that’s just an illusion. And in the grand scheme of things, really won’t make a difference at all. And if you’re planning a life in politics because you think that will: it’s a dog eat dog world, so you better start learning how to bark.
But that is the sad awful truth … that we really possess nothing significant at all … But our voices. And despite all the downsides of technology, you gotta give it credit for one, extraordinary accomplishment: it has given ordinary people a face, a voice, a meaning. I can sit here behind my desk and read about the dreams and aspirations of just about anybody out there willing to throw me a piece of their mind. And perhaps this is just the naive, adolescent in me, but I think that has got to mean something.
It has to. Not in that we are going to start another Bolshevik revolution; or rally against all the we see wrong with the world. But in that by knowing just a bit more about the people that surround you, there’s more of a chance that you will not inflict them harm when you go out into the world tomorrow.
You might read about what I had for dinner last night, or where Dave took his date, or where Joseph wrote his final exam. Sure, all may be extremely insignificant and mundane details. But it gives each of these people personality, face, … life.
And that, is most certainly powerful: to believe in the life that surrounds you. To believe in those very “faceless”, “nameless” individuals out there. To truly believe that despite all our difference in race, color, culture, and beliefs, underneath, we are all just human. Aspiring to do things, hoping to achieve things, dreaming of better things ahead. And if we believe in that, if we truly “feel” it, we will cringe the next time anybody tries to convince us otherwise.
… So if you are still with me, and reading this hasn’t been like taking horse tranquilizers, … that pretty much sums it up.
Oh, and another really good thing about having access to a lot of people: if any of you out there ever want to do my homework, you are, by all means, most certainly welcome.