This archived article was written by: Josie Sue Slade
In Iran, two-thirds of the 78 million population was born after the 1979 revolution. Much of this population is young and living in an oppressed society that Americans cannot understand. In Iran, gathering in large groups on the streets, singing in public and verbally yearning about love is forbidden. The day-to-day things we do would get us killed in Iran.
In Iran there are three types of Islam. The Islam that makes up most of the population, radical Islam and third Iran. With this third Iran, youth bring change through the way they dress and how connected they are to the world.
With the desire to play an assertive role, Iran’s youth practice peaceful rituals and frown upon violence. Unlike most of the youth in America and the world, Iran’s youth are politically active and engaged in their community.
Eighteen years ago, they brought presidential candidate Mohammad Khatami to power in an attempt to give themselves more freedoms. With a strong push, they became a reform movement that would, and still does, take Iran by storm.
There is a key lesson we can learn from the reform movement; stand up for what you believe in and don’t be afraid of the consequences. When the voting was rigged by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, millions of people stormed the streets and protested. These protests lasted six months and 150 people were killed for their beliefs.
As they flooded the streets, they knew it was against the law, they knew that some of them would be tortured or worse. Many people who died had long lives ahead of them and hopes for the future. They still held strong and stood up for what they believed.
Where is this passion in America? The youth in America have rights that people in other countries can only dream of. We can wear what we want, sing as loud as we want and even speak our opinions without fear of dying. Yet, as a nation’s youth we are quiet. We don’t speak out about what bugs us out of fear of “being politically correct” or some other similar reason.
If you believe in something, speak out until you can’t speak anymore. This world wouldn’t be anything without people’s passion and conviction for what they do and believe in. If America’s youth continues on the path they currently are on, we will allow ourselves to be oppressed.
In honor of people who die for what they believe in, in honor of Iran’s youth, you have one challenge. Stand up for what you believe in. I don’t care what it is; I don’t even care if I agree. Speak your mind and don’t fear the consequences; you owe it to the world.