Tuesday, November 11, 2008

from Lipstick Jihad: a memoir of growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran

by Azadeh Moaveni

"What I wanted to explain...was that we had a moral obligation to care when awful things happened to people around us. That by treating beatings, lashings, or checkpoint arrests as common place--ordinary, like going to the ATM--we were becoming dehumanized to the sickness around us. A heightened threshold of suffering was necessary for getting through the day, but mentally, we had to retain some sort of perspective. Of how a functional government should behave. Of what was unacceptable. Otherwise, we would become like those blase reformists, who would look you in the eye, and say: "Look at how much progress we've made... See! I'm wearing short-sleeves...Could I have work short-sleeves ten years ago?...No!...What are you whining about human rights for? ...Aren't we better than the Taliban? Than the Saudis?" Yes, there would always be some junked, lost country we would be superior to, but that wasn't a proper ambition, was it?" (217)

"I had taken the first steps assured in myself, intent on discovering Iran, and I had eventually found that Iran, like the Simorgh, was elusive, that it defied being known. Its moods changed mercurially by the day, and even its past was a contested battle. Though with each day there I accumulated as many questions as answers, like those steadfast birds, something kept me honed on course, a belief in the obscured value of the destination. The knowledge had been unfurling in me slowly since the day Agha Joon's funeral--that the search for home, for Iran, had taken me not to a place but back to myself" (245).

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