Last night an elect company of souls, some weighed down in glory, some in an unponderable weight of responsibility – gathered to be entertained, on the occasion of Doctor Shirin Ebadi`s receiving the Nobel Peace Price. On that occasion some words were said that make me feel Mrs.Ebadi has step forward into a role which currently were vacant. There has been a lot of talk about Mrs. Ebadi`s efforts and character the last few months, while the “west” admits
that they had been unconscious of it. That Iran is such an obscure, isolated, backward country that rarely lets news, or persons appear in the “limelight” of the press. I think quite a lot in the audience, as well as in front of the TV screens, shook their heads sadly at the insistence of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas that to “us” she had
been a complete unknown until suddenly out of the blue, someone had “discovered her”. Her work has been known and noticed by both political
and voluntary organizations, and reported on, especially as it regards a censure of the deficient legal system in several countries which violate the basic human rights of women, without foundation in the “law” the judges claim to be subject to. Such censure is impossible to direct from outside the tradition and system.. with impossible, I mean this – If I do so myself, it will be completely ineffective.. I could, like the Americans, elect to attack and imprison those who represent such views and approve such verdicts, even kill them – but I would not be able to make them see the error, or make them in any way disposed to correcting it.
We are trying to survive here on Terra firma (not in some unknown comic book galaxy which evidently Bush and a few of his closest confidants appear to have their heads), when this generation, and the generation before it – woke up one day, the world had many religions, many cultures, around the world, on each continent – you would find differences in colour, in language, in customs and in value systems. This was yesterday, and this is today.. nations and people like me, you or our nextdoor neighbour, have some say, it is not much, each to our own, in what tommorrow will be like… While I might not agree with you, I think perhaps that we both should think about whether we really want the Middle Ages to come back, and if it is adviceable to drift into a conflict between whatever civilization we belong to, with any other…
With the advent of industrialization there has been a double agenda going in the international community; at one side, there is an aspiration towards progress, a universal progress which will benefit.. “everyman” – on the other side, we have the stubborn insistance that these things should “pay”, that with the universality of security,health,wealth and wellbeing.. and of course, Human Rights, good manners and general amiability.. the last 40 years has been a touchstone to prove some speculations which were totally unfair, and which really belong to the 19th century, not the 20th – utterly wrong – with regard to the “non-christian”/”heathen” nations of this world, with regard to the “impossibility of moral behaviour to generate in people who are not converted to the Gospel”(sic! some insist today that a person who is not religious (Christian, or even Jew), cannot do anything “good” or decide anything which in effect is moral or ethical) – and especially concerning the subjects of Islam.
I am writing this full well knowing that anyone likely to read it has most probably not lived under a rock the last 2 years – and are wise to events leading up to and following September 11th 2001.. in a larger picture, these
things are not representative.. in the smaller picture, the Moslem I am likely to meet if I walk out on the street today, is neither representative.. its exactly the case as with Abortion Clinic Bombers, most Christians are not supportive of or practicing acts of Terrorism .. for precisely the same reason most Moslems are not Suicide Bombers..
There might be a reason why the Douglas`es (sic!) and their compadres
feel that there has arrived a “new star” on the firmament.. but the novelty of this star is a greater “mass media” audience. Nothing wrong with that, Robert Plant, while apparently a bit moved by the event and distracted, paused to report that he was overwhelmed by the “positivity” he had spotted in the mass media, “let`s have more positivity in the media, let us hear of the efforts done by people like Shirin Ebadi in helping right all the wrongs” – paraphrasing him quite crudely here.. at first I thought the sentiment were a bit 70ish, but really we have had a lot of negativity since 9/11/01 have we not? At least in our “media” diet. It`s time to digest things, not repress them, anasthetizing ourselves, forgetting things.. going on as if nothing has ever happened. Quite a lot has happened. I am not a prophet and care exactly zero about divination, but I will say that we have entered something new – if not anything else, a new century and a new millenium. I titulated Shrin Ebadi as “Doctor” – not only on account the weight of a formal title, but because I am quite under the impression that the sum of her effort and her approach is much like that of other “soul repairers”, they are not surgeons – there are many more surgeons around than soul repairers, more psychologists whose subject matter is theory and theory verification/research rather than the healing of their patients; Shirin Ebadi is also doctor of divine law, she is not only a practicioner of Islam, she belongs to the unfortunately small number of_conscious_ practicioners of Islam; conscious not only of the existence of boundaries within her own religion and the dynamic in the mediation of prayer,meditation and communion (community) – but conscious of how every nation (such as the ancient Persian, she invoked the name of Cyrus the great, a particular feat that I am sure turned a few heads.. both from her own country and from westeners), every commonwealth is affected by the interior life, also the spiritual and religious life, of each individual. In her conversation with the “hosts” of the Nobel Prize “show” she chose to insist on a comparison between the “greater” and “smaller” picture – the individual and the universal, the single person on its own – and the great commonwealth of nations, countries, states .. and beyond. The work would never really be finished, it appears, but there is such joy in pursuing that. I am sure the translation of her Farsi were of a somehow diminished nature due to the “rush job” they did of it – but quintessentially, what in a general and plain way Shirin Ebadi offered, is essentially a vision/dream and a high ideal of participatory redemption; we struggle even within ourselves, she said – until we can achieve equilibrium and a peace with ourselves, we cannot truelly contribute to the healing of conflict outside.
Wise words.. from a very brave woman, she isn`t an exile-Iranian, you know – and she has now chosen to speak stern words not only to her own countrys goverment and the priesthood there, but to the “western” and international community…
Iranian, Female, Muslim – working for the rights of Women, Children and the unprivileged – in Iran, offering legal defense for dissenting parties in a political minefield, on the ever-painful verge of reform… it sounds perhaps like a short life to some, let`s hope.. no let`s hope and pray, it wont come to that.
Long Life to Shirin Ebadi!