Thursday, June 23, 2005

Open Letter to Ahmadinejhad

In the last couple of days, i've been reading all i can find on Ahmadinejhad that has anything remotely substantive to say about him. I found quite a bit, including an 11 page interview with Fars News in which--and I hate to admit this-- he came off quite well. I'd meant to translate and post some selections here, but I didn't have the time. I may do so in the next couple of days, depending on who wins tomorrow's elections.

Then today I came across the acclaimed director Abbas Kiarostami's open letter to Ahmadinejhad published originally in Shargh Newspaper and found here on the site Khabgard.

Below is my quick translation of the full text of the letter, which I find to be of much interest for more reasons than that it is written by one of my favorite directors.

Once when my son was 5 years old and eating a cookie, both my friend and I asked him to give us one of his cookies. But Bahman only had one cookie left. Caught in between, he stared at us wondering who he should give the cookie to. My friend simplified the problem and told him: "Give the cookie to the person you like the most". Bahman looked us both over and told me: "Baba, I like you the most but I want to give my cookie to your friend".

Now, some twenty odd years after that day, I still can't figure out what went through the mind of my five year old son, who gave his cookie to the other person that he liked less than me. But I have my reasons for why I will give my vote to the other.

Mr. Ahmadinejhad, I have some simple reasons why I like you more than the other. For me, you are a reminder of 1979. In those days, the selfless ethics and ideals of improving the lives of others were not mere abstractions, they were natural and living parts of the mind and actions of millions of believing, honest youth who wanted to use the opportunity the revolution provided in order to better the lives of the dispossessed classes. After twenty some years when I look at the clarity of those protests I understand your inner melancholy.

With your honesty, you still rejuvenate "our" 1979. I like you because I cannot lie to myself that I don't know that what you say is the truth. It is a reality that in our current world the wealthiest claw at the steps of power, leaving no room for the growth of the people.

Amidst all of this, Mr. Ahmadinejhad, there is something that makes you an anomaly in the world of 2005. So now, it is a great misfortune that the only thing you can do in the face of this player's world with no ideals is to become melancholy, this world that had been built in the last 27 years and of which we are a part. The world has created a difficult situation for honest players, but those who are of this world are able to read one anothers' hands and...

My dear friend, I will say with simplicity that we can not keep ourselves in the world of 1979. Today those beliefs are far from reality, and given the current difficult equations, we are not the only decision-makers in today's game. You are more straight and more principled than to be able to play in the twisted games of the power-tainted politicians, so as Modaress said: "Now we need someone who has learned the rules of the game of this world".

For this reason I will give my vote to the person I like less than you but who is more able than you in understanding the realities of life today. All my hope is that he will at least learn this time--from the support you had-- that our dispossessed people are still awaiting help. I hope that at least he gives a bit of attention to the dispossessed and tries to cultivate the health of the society.

My dear friend, up to now I have voted twice, and both times I have regretted it. This time I will go the polling booth more prepared but I will give my vote to the other whom I don't like as much as you.

These are strange days, my brother.