Almost 300 years ago now the original founders of the United States chose to rebel against an oppressive regime in order to secure the right of self-rule. No matter the men’s motivation — liberty, lower taxes, business, etc. — the goal is still a valid one: self-rule. When we talk about the right to vote, democracy, and liberty we are really talking about this goal. In other words, that human desire to be in charge of our own destinies in as much as we are able. The events in Iran over the past week demonstrate how that desire is not attached to a particular region or group of people. The desire for personal recognizance is deeply rooted within all of us.
When that desire is faced with some sort of inane, out-dated, illogical obstacle the level of anger and frustration mounts to a boiling point and no force on earth can quell the rage. There are only two options at that point for us: slavery or revolution. Iranians are choosing the latter.
It is with this frame of mind I watch events unfold from the obscure safety of my apartment on the sea, the vinyl train benches on my way to Boston, and my ergonomically-designed office chair. Out there in the world right now there are people dying — not to gain liberty for others — in order to gain what they believed they already had: the right to control their own earthly fates. Let’s face it, that control is really all we have.
In spite of the theological debates, philosophical arguments, and “evidence” to the contrary, the only sure things in life are birth and death. The rest of it is up to us to do with as we see fit. In Iran, a theocracy made the mistake of pretending to be a democracy, made the mistake of offering up a pretend activity in self-rule. The Iranian people will not choose to be slaves any longer, it seems.
In our own history, a group of English citizens were also robbed of what they understood to be their rights under their king. Rather than settle for a fake existence, one of pretend autonomy, they opted for revolution as well. France. Africa. South America. Our own civil rights movement. Every location on the planet where an illusion of autonomy is placed over the eyes of people a revolution has begun. Human nature is autonomy.
As we watch the events in Iran unfold, as we read on-the-ground reports of daily fighting and dying, try to remember what it means to fight for something that is tantamount to the existence of humanity. This is bigger than a political theory, set of economic rules, a religious belief. This is as big as humanity itself. Iranians are launching a revolution just as we did some 300 years ago, as France did 200 years ago, and as people continue to do every day. Oil? Religion? This is far more important.