These days, wherever you go, you hear about change. There was even a sign at the little café selling soup, which read, “Store is now operating under new management”. Everyone you see wants to bring about change. One is changing his management techniques, another is trying to change himself, a politician is seeking new approaches in his diplomacy, and some are trying to make positive changes in their surrounding environment. It is not important who or what is changing, or where the change is occurring. The significant matter is that everyone is aware of the necessity of adaptation.
Almost on a daily basis, we notice changes in our surroundings. We see new flowers planted somewhere, a building demolished, another one renovated in another location. Without change, we face repetitious, static conditions.
I would like to discuss some of the changes that have occurred in the Baha’i community of Iran over the last few years. These changes have happened simultaneously alongside other movements in the social structure of Iran and of the rest of the world.
Maybe after going through a period of static and slow movement, we are witnessing progress in some areas. One of these areas is how the community is looking at its “rights”. A few years ago if a Baha’is was expelled from his job or was banned from entering a university, he accepted it as a normal, ordinary event. However, with an enhanced understanding of our basic human rights and with powerful international organizations involved in upholding those rights, the Baha’i community, along with other groups in society, has reached the conclusion that when such basic rights are not granted, attempts can and should be made to attain them.
The Baha’i are part of an active, organic community that recognizes the need for change. Along with other individuals, groups, and minorities, they have attempted to gain their deserved rights. At first, the community encountered many obstacles, such as being accustomed to having no privileges, total lack of cooperation on the part of the authorities governing the country, lack of support from other groups and minorities, etc. However, Baha’is have gradually overcome the impediments blocking their way, and have started to pave the path forward.
Now that a few years have passed from the initial attempts to make constructive changes, we can see that the community is very much alert regarding its rights and the necessity to persevere in obtaining these rights. We can also witness that our intellectual countrymen have become conscious of the oppression and deprivations inflicted upon the Iranian Baha’i community, and are showing their sympathy and support. Furthermore, the Baha’i community has been participating in defending the rights of other minorities, groups and individuals that are struggling to obtain the same rights to which the rest of their fellow citizens are entitled.
However, as always, the Baha’i community is committed to refrain from involvement in politics and to cooperate fully with Iran’s Islamic government. The Baha’i community is certain that it can succeed in obtaining its rights with the cooperation of Iranian citizens and the government of Iran.
All members of the Baha’i community of Iran consider themselves to be citizens of Iran, and obey the laws governing the country. However, they are attempting to acquire the same privileges and rights as documented in the articles of the constitution, encompassing all the residents of the country.
In the last year, there has been a shift in the approach of Iranians in their struggle to obtain their freedom and human rights. Instead of complaining and finding excuses, they have realized that they as well as the minorities should combine their energies and try to gain liberty and civil rights for all the citizens of the country, based on the framework of the laws governing the country and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the government of Iran has signed, and which it has committed itself to respect by using its guidelines.
Perhaps the assumption before was that in order to obtain personal and social freedoms, changes would have to be made within the governing bodies. However, Iranian society is approaching a stage of maturity, such that it is realizing that the government and the nation should work together; that confrontation will not lead to freedom or the progress of our country.
We realize the necessity of change, and recognize that everything in our surroundings is being transformed. This desire to change may be an indication of our growth and forward movement. If we agree that no change will occur except through our efforts and diligence, we can direct the public’s efforts to reinstate our rights within the limited framework of the legal environment of the country, in the same way that black Americans fought for their civil rights.
We need to step away from suggestions and approaches dictated to us from outside of our society. We should know that by lounging on the couch and keeping the radio close to our ears, no improvement will occur. We should recognize that it is only through our awareness, careful deliberation and judicious endeavors that we can advance toward a beautiful and free country.
[Posted on May 11, 2009, at: http://www.negah30.info/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1058&Itemid=24.]