This I Believe

Nayssan - Marina del Rey, California
Entered on October 17, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe that apathy is destroying us.

Born in Iran before the Islamic revolution, I was only a child when I first noticed how often my parent discussed “the problems” developing in the country. People were becoming more and more religious, radical ideas were taking root, preachers were dictating how things should be run, various freedoms were being curbed, politicians were catering to religious groups. My parents and their friends, the so called intelligentsia of the country, discussed these topics regularly, shook their heads and asked each other, can you believe it? Every day, the country became more radical and every night, we talked about what a shame it all was. Day by day, the situation got worse. Night by night, we kept talking. I once asked one of the adults why someone didn’t actually do something about the deteriorating situation in the country. “There’s nothing we can do” was my answer.

And then one day, we woke up and none of us recognized the country we were born and raised in. That radical country that’s demonized in the Western world is one I neither recognize nor remember. But I do remember that we all sat back idly and watched it turn into what it is today.

27 years later, a different continent, a different country. We’re sitting around the dinner table shaking our heads and discussing how bad things have become. Except this time, it’s me and my husband. We ask each other, can you believe our Congress passed a law that makes torturing people ok? Can you believe our President now has the power to hold someone indefinitely without charge? Can you believe that the prison at Guantanamo Bay is not in some third world country, but a creation of the US? Can you believe that our government freely engages in secret wiretaps? Can you believe we’re now catering to the religious right? Can you believe, can you believe, can you believe….? The eerie chill of deja vu. It’s happening again. And again, all we’re doing is talking.

I’ve heard people tell me that what happened in Iran can never happen here. And I think to myself, “why not? Do you think that for a moment anyone of us thought that what happened in Iran was even remotely possible?”

I’ve seen apathy destroy my country once. Please, not again.