Some thoughts on violence
Today, three nights after Ashura, I feel that I would like to share some of my personal thoughts, because I noticed that lots of discussions are going on, and lots of emotions have started to break free, emotions that are related to one of my biggest concerns since the whole thing started after the presidential election in June – violence and fragmentation.
I spent Ashura at my pc, posting and translating, as usual, but with a growing feeling of unease, that I could not pay attention to due to a lack of time.
I saw videos. I missed something there, and I saw, or rather sensed, something that had not been there before. Let me put it very naively: I missed the color green in the pictures, and I sensed something huge hovering above the crowds that was just black.
There are many good reasons why the color green did not and could not dominate the pictures. Actually, it was not so much the color that was missing. It was rather that there was a shift in the atmosphere.
Many people seem to have noticed this as well, in this or another way. I noticed that people started to have worried or heated discussions, so I thought I would just share my thoughts.
First, in my perception Ashura showed two types of violence. The first kind was the aggressive, destructive, stupid and cruel violence used by the government forces that the world has been witnessing for the past six months, and that Iranians in Iran have probably been witnessing for their entire lives.
The second kind was new. The protesters fought back. They fought BACK. This is important. I, as everyone else, saw the videos that showed protesters freeing arrested people from police vans – with violence. I saw protesters cornering security forces who were visibly intimidated, if not profoundly scared, because the protesters did NOT offer them flowers. What they offered them was the feeling of being vulnerable, exposed to the rage, the sadness, the frustration of those who had lost a friend, a son, a daughter, a niece, a nephew, a brother, or a sister, or who spend their days and nights worrying about their loved ones in Evin or another place of hell.
This looked violent, but it was necessary. As Josh Shahryar put it: Iranians aren’t punching bags.
I saw pictures of security forces being protected by protesters, and led away from the furious crowds. I saw some minor violence applied when necessary, but it always seemed to serve a peaceful purpose – to save people from the arbitrary cruelty of the regime.
But the black thing I sensed in all those pictures is still there, sticky, filthy, scary. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it is the risk of fragmentation, the risk of being carried away by all too understandable emotions.
I love the green movement for its capability of being humane. I love it for its strength to not get trapped in destructive patterns. I am sure this has been one major reason why the international support has been so huge. My heart beats for the Greens. But I know that the Greens are not going through their immense struggle to be loved by their international supporters.
I feel worried and anxious, because things now seem to be reaching a point where people might not always be able to act the way they wish, or the way they know they should.
The Greens have already set a huge example for people around the globe. I will forever admire them for their achievements of the past months, for all they have done, and for all they have NOT done.
I am not Iranian. I am just a supporter from abroad. All I know is that there is a big difference between violence in a sense of cruelty, and violence with a purpose of self defense. And also, there is a big difference between self defense and revenge.