This 4-minute video offers an inspiring clip showing positive action people of diverse backgrounds took together in Washington, DC on September 12, 2009 to support the long-harassed Baha’i community in Iran. As writer Azar Nafisi’s remarks show, the concern is human rights for all people in Iran, regardless of affiliation or belief. Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo spoke via video just a few days before winning an Emmy award for best supporting actress.
I was particularly touched by the involvement of children in the program. Oftentimes as parents we try to shield our children from “heavy” or uncomfortable subjects. Human rights violations can certainly fall into this category, but we can spin this differently for the young ones in our lives. Children get it when something’s not fair. Their radar for justice seems to be one of the more finely-tuned senses they have, from the time they hit elementary school and vie for a turn on the monkey bars in the playground, or when a sibling seems to get all the attention or all the treats. When we teach our children The Golden Rule, we can show that this is a way of practicing justice and human rights in our daily lives, rather than avoiding those big topics altogether. Point out the way different people are treated – at home, when you go out, and eventually, around the world. Do you thank the person serving you or sweeping the floors at school? Do you acknowledge their presence? Don’t let those people who keep things running seem invisible to you or your children, just as you don’t want to keep those suffering from human rights violations in far-away places invisible to your consciousness.
At a separate event, during the Q&A session of Marjane Satrapi’s talk kicking off the One Book, One Philadelphia program for this year (the whole city will read her book Persepolis), one person asked: as Philadelphia is the birthplace of freedom in U.S., what can we do to help achieve freedom in Iran? She answered “nothing” (as far as embroiling ourselves in national politics and invading the country), and “everything” (as far as taking grassroots steps – getting informed, telling our friends, acting on behalf of human rights). The program highlighted in Washington, DC in the video offers an example of nothing and everything: this is not attempting to topple the regime through an invasion or armed revolution, but through the united, courageous, collective voices standing up for justice and human rights, real differences are being made. The children at the event gave voice to those unjustly imprisoned, reminding us why we care in the first place.