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Friday, July 3, 2009

We all need Neda

Written by Karen, a mom without a blog

There are so many images, so many sad, sad stories that daily come across the internet, are printed in our newspapers and are plastered all over our television newscasts, that we often become completely numb to it all. We may see something that will give us pause, but not even long enough to even qualify as an official “moment of silence” before we’re on to our next task.

It’s so difficult for me in the midst of my daily grind to focus on anything besides my own little self and my own little life – that to keep aware of what is going on in the rest of the world becomes almost another chore to add to my already addled brain.

Until something happens that cannot be ignored… a tsunami, a hurricane, a declaration of war. Something you cannot take your eyes off of or you can’t read enough about.

It’s akin to slowing down on the highway just long enough to marvel over the overturned car on the other side, grumble about how “everyone ALWAYS has to slow down to see the accident”, then speed up and back to reality – the tangled wreckage just a small side-note to your afternoon, soon to be forgotten altogether. That is precisely how we treat major calamitous events in our world. We stop, we take it in, we analyze our own feelings and those of others, we take stock of what we have and maybe hug are kids a little tighter that night, we try our best to empathize and maybe even try to help with a donation and definitely some heartfelt prayers… then we move on.

There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s how we can all keep on living without being buried under the burdens of the world.

But there are times when something happens, some symbol of an event that just stands out among all the rest. The one that makes you truly take stock of where we’re at and it actually CHANGES us. It may be a very subtle change or in may even be just that a SEED is planted that will eventually push us past our own lives to contemplate what is happening and how it could and should effect us.

Last night, I had just that moment of that tiny seed being planted. An image of a solitary woman. A woman no one knew save for her family and friends… until a few days ago. She was a young woman in the prime of life who was shot down in the midst of a demonstration in Iran. Now, tragically, in death, she is known by the entire world. I read about it when it happened, but yesterday I looked at her pictures – her reality was too intense to let fade in my mind.

This is Neda Agha-Soltan.

Her pictures and the video of her tragic death are easily found on the web. After seeing her pictures last night, I wanted to see the video. I felt like I owed it to her as a human being on this planet of ours. I had to give her horrific death more than a moment in my life. There is nothing more real than that video folks. This is a young, 26 year old, who believed the protests were justified and was standing by, not throwing anything or threatening anyone and she was shot by what is believed to be pro-government militia.

As you all may know, news from the area is sparse and regulated by the government. Foreign journalists have been barred from the streets and most of the pictures and video getting out of Iran are from the people.

The people.

It’s the people that make a country what it is – the government is supposed to represent ALL of the people. If nothing else, this disputed election shows that the people of Iran want FREEDOM, Iranian women want FREEDOM. Many Islamic clerics have been protesting along with the people! Watching these clerics march hand in hand with young Iranians – wow! That was a wonderful image - they also believe strongly in human rights – enough to put themselves in harms way as well.

In this week leading up to America’s Independence Day celebrations, I want to attach more meaning to what “independence” means and how grateful I am for all who fought and stood up to give that to me. Could I EVER be brave enough to do what these protesters are doing? Could I ever stand up and purposefully put myself in that volatile position, in full knowledge of what I’m up against, in full knowledge that weapons are being used against unarmed people, in full knowledge that retribution could be harsh, even possibly deadly? I’d like to think I could, for the sake of my children and the young people of my nation… but I have serious, serious doubts.

I thank God that our government in America allows for all people to believe, practice and proclaim their faiths, beliefs, opinions and convictions. We see playing out before us in Iran, the danger of trying to rule under one belief. No government should ever try to restrict its patrons to one set of opinions. Lets try to make a symbol like Neda real. Let her help us make room in our hearts for EVERYONE – lets try to EMBRACE our differences, rather than brush aside those who don’t believe what we do.

As far as how Neda effects us and our little lives…. Well I guess that is up to each and every one of us. The video of her death is seared into my brain, and as terrible as it is, I want it to stay there. I don’t want to forget her and what she is now becoming a symbol for. Her name “Neda” means “divine calling” in Persian and “the call” in Farsi.

If we take more than a moment and plant the seed of acceptance inside, then the horrific events of June 20th, the day Neda was taken from this earth, will turn evil to good. She will not have died in vain.


  1. Oh Karen you definitely hit the nail on the head.

    I had heard about Neda and I googled and I saw the video.

    Heartbreaking and heartwrenching.

    Gives more credence to the saying, "Freedom isn't free."

    Great post and thanks for reminding us of this great country with all her flaws is the best!

  2. Beautifully written and perfectly said.

  3. Thanks you hearty holiday bloggers - i guess traffic is light on the interweb this week... its a heavy one, but it was on my mind and just kinda poured out... you know how that goes sometimes? i wanted the plight of iran's people be something more real to us. Neda makes it real - God bless her. thanks for reading and being patient with me up on my soapbox! :) Happy 4th holiday everyone. Really.

  4. She has been on my mind quite a bit recently, despite not seeing her video.

    This is such a poignant post. I couldn't agree more, and hope with you in that things will change.

  5. Such a beautiful girl, thanks for bringing her to the forefront. Let's also remember those of our own who are in harm's way, so we can enjoy our protests and expressions of belief.
    Thanks, Karen!

  6. Excellent post Karen.

    Thanks to the vacation, I've missed the recent news cycle, so this story is still fresh on my mind. I need to catch up with what has recently evolved in Iran.

    Maybe I can find it in between all the Michael Jackson coverage.



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