Rejoice in the potential of the Iranian people

Photo by Farhad Rajabali
Photo by Farhad Rajabali

Bill Keller at The New York Times wrote an article yesterday titled, “Memo from Tehran – Reverberations as Door Slams on Hope of Change.” In this he writes that:

But for those who dreamed of a gentlerĀ Iran, Saturday was a day of smoldering anger, crushed hopes and punctured illusions, from the streets of Tehran to the policy centers of Western capitals. Iranians who hoped for a bit more freedom, a better managed economy and a less reviled image in the world wavered between protest and despair on Saturday.

Perhaps what Keller writes has some merit, but I think that its crucial that we look at the events of the past days in a different light. For me the events after the closing of the polls in Iran show what is possible when a country’s people decide that they have had enough. The events represent what happens when people take the tools of modern communication into their own hands and proclaim that they too have a voice that needs to be heard.

What seems to be happening on the streets of Tehran and other cities throughout the country is not the reverberations of lost hope, it is the explosion of a thundercloud of revolution. These are people who are willing to put themselves in danger by opposing a regime that has proven to be dictatorial in its use of force. They are people who understand the consequences but more importantly recognize the importance of the current moment.

Yes the initial victory for Ahmadinejad is not ideal for these people, but I think they are far from “[wavering] between protest and despair.” The people of Iran do not seem to be wavering; instead, they are shouting emphatically “NO!”

Perhaps these riots in the streets will result in no substantial regime change. Ahmadinejad may retain power. Mousavi may be imprisoned. But no matter the result, the actions of the people in Tehran have shown the world an important lesson: we too can change things if we’re determined. No longer can a people’s voice be suppressed. No longer must they rely upon the mass media to get their message out.

To me we should be rejoicing in the events of the past days as the first example of what today’s world and today’s technology can accomplish when the rights of a people are violated.

The conditions of today have created a situation wherein people can oppose an injustice immediately, effectively, and publicly. The protests in Iran may not succeed, but the message they proclaim and the images they present will influence those who desire social change for years to come. That’s something we should all be happy about.