I watched an interesting TV program last week.
On the one hand it was encouraging, uplifting even. And on another hand it was downright scary. And at the end of the day, I am not sure where it leaves us.
You will probably be surprised to hear that I am referring to a recent Rick Steves travel program on the Public Broadcast Network—-and that it was about recreational travel to Iran.
So of course the context in which we are watching this show about Iran is that we are right in the middle of some extremely tense times with respect to relations between the West and the Middle East (forgive me for such a simplistic geopolitical tag).
Listening to the news, reading the paper, talking to people, you can’t but come away from all of this but for the feeling that we are sitting right on the knife-edge of apocalypse. It is frightening, it is depressing, it is demoralizing.
To me it feels like a big, black cloud hanging over my head, following me around all day. As if I didn’t have enough of that already!
First of all, I was surprised to hear that Steves was in Iran at all! I mean, that is not like a trip to Yellowstone National Park.
And then when Steves introduced this particular episode by warning us (apologizing) that what he could say, describe and show was under the very close scrutiny of the Iranian government authorities, I wasn’t expecting anything more than platitudes and scenery pictures.
So imagine my surprise when he delivered what I thought was quite a vigorous (for a TV travel program) look at life in current Iran. And not pulling many punches.
But what really surprised me was the number of interviews he conducted of locals, and the near unaninimity of the statements made by these interviewees that Iranians loved the West, loved the people of the West, and wanted to be friends of the people of the West—Iran loves us!
Now before you say anything, I understand that this was probably (clearly?) not a representative sampling of the populace.
And I’m pretty sure that the word “love” was used a bit loosely—even thought that was the word used. But for sure the sentiment was unmistakable. They didn’t appear to hold any animosity towards us—quite the contrary actually.
In fact, they clearly and categorically stated that this animosity that we see is purely political, did not reflect the general populace, and was all government driven.
As they tried to articulate it, these feelings of distrust, hatred, and animosity that we see are government to government, and definitely not peoples to peoples (if I am expressing myself clearly???).
First of all, I couldn’t believe that they were actually saying this on public television! Maybe I am naïve, but I just have to believe that this is going to be seen by government authorities, and I can’t imagine it being very well received.
And maybe this should have been a bit of red flag to me???
But, if this is true, and if it does represent the thinking of even a small (but significant ???) portion of the Iranian population, then this is a much different world we are living in than what I believed up to that point.
And therein lies the hope, the encouragement.
On the other hand, and assuming this is all true—and I know that is a giant step, but if it is true, then what should we be doing about it???
I’m scratching my head.
I’ll keep you posted.