By Benjamin Smith
Do we really want to understand what’s going on in Iran? Do we have a desire to truly have insight into what an oppressed people endure?
People who have experienced despotic, corrupt, tyrannically-run countries will tell you what they have endured if we only cared enough to ask. If you can get them talking about it they will also tell you how these situations will end up: Badly for all involved.
Iranians have seen the ugliness of man and the macabre effectiveness of premeditated evil on a country’s populace. And while we focus on the fanatical element of this culture, there are those – the unheard, oppressed, who understand what America really is and what it offers to the world. These oppressed, in search of hope and of freedom, have done their research and know about an America that they consider to be their ideal.
If you really want to see deep patriotism, go to a legal immigrant who has had to lose it all to get here and risk his or her life as well as their families to have a shot at freedom and liberty.
The Iranian regime keeps their citizenry under control through power and barbarism mixed with a lethal dose of Islam.
Post traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that in the United States is rare. It is usually seen in some military personnel, abuse victims, emergency personnel and 911 victims. When we look at a country like Iran with a radical Islamic (12er) theocratic government that is not afraid to kill, torture and kidnap in the name of religious zealotry and self preservation we often overlook the effect the authoritarian, despotic dictators have on their people.
Most of the time, we blindly identify everyone in the country as representative of the leadership we see on the TV. This is not so. In my past experiences in the Middle East and in my exposure to Iranian citizens, I have come to see that in these countries the ruling order is a power structure keeping its citizens down by instilling fear, imprisoning dissenters and killing any and all threats to its power.
The majority of the citizenry is/was deathly fearful of its government and feels there is nothing it can do to stop it, they were and are just too powerful. They understand heinous things happen to them with no recourse or reciprocity…. this is the Iranian citizens’ life, their reality. PTSD is their life situation day in, day out.
Until you have been exposed to unrelenting, sustained stress, it is hard to comprehend what the Iranians are going through daily. Most people say “they care” about what is happening in this country, but do they really understand what a normal day in the life of an Iranian is? We do not understand the zeal of an army hell-bent on religious world domination and the bringing about of the “End of Days” because a book told them to. Living with those realities is Real Stress as opposed to most of the stresses we face which is Self-Imposed Stress.”
Not only beholden to the Iranian reality, most despotically ruled countries, Islamic or not have their people locked down and seized with fear. This is a totally different reality than we have in America. In order to understand these people and possibly help them we have to understand the barriers that differentiate us and the paradigm in which we look at them. This is a look at our self-imposed stress vs. their real stress.
Real Stress varies greatly from its much milder, self-imposed cousin.
Self-Imposed Stress is the everyday stress everyone in America feels: Stresses that are ultimately avoidable – ones we put upon ourselves. These consist of relationships, taxes, bills, appointments, traffic, love and marriage. We face quite a few stresses of a fiscal, materialistic or of a vice nature. The important thing to notice is these are not life-threatening stresses and can be remedied in a short amount of time.
There are places around the world where Real Stress is a fact of life and it is not to be taken lightly. War zones, dictatorships, totalitarian and authoritarian governments all have the element of real stress to them. If you look at someone the wrong way you could be killed for it. When someone walks through their front door, out in the street in the morning there is total uncertainty as to what might happen to them or the people they love.
Family rape, torture and killing is common in Iran. You are stoned to death if you are unfaithful or assumed to be under Islamic law. If someone in your family thinks you are not Muslim enough they can justifiably kill you and they will be held in the right (these are called ‘justice’ killings). These events happening throughout Iran, at any given hour are common, constant, daily reminders you could be next if you step out of line.” This is Real Stress. It doesn’t end when an Iranian man or woman comes home at the end of the day either. It could be your very own spouse sleeping next to you who is killed the next day or the one who turns you in. This stress is a baseline – it is common. It is real and all-encompassing.
As a former SEAL, I can only start to understand what Real Stress is pertaining to the Iranian situation. I have been to countries where this is their real life experience, heard it and experienced it first-hand. I have seen the eyes of good people and the eyes of the evil; the eyes of the suffering and the eyes of the ones inflicting it. A person never gets over the smell of burning flesh or the look of a person who has been burned alive or is blown to bits in a VBIED attack and how they are comically reminiscent of a pig-pickin’ back in North Carolina (we tend to look like pork when we burn).
A person never forgets the feeling of looking down at your own equipment (body armor or military vehicle) and realizing the holes in them were meant to maim and/or kill you. You never forget the feeling of knowing you are heading in to do something to someone you have never met, but fully understand what has to be done. Real Stress is knowing one day your luck might run out and every move you make could be your last.
The knowledge that if you are caught by these people, there is no Geneva Convention or any comforts that will be afforded to you. Torture, beheading, rape and desecration of your body before and after your death will be made known to your family and loved ones. This is the business they are in, if they cannot physically force you to obey they will paralyze you with fear of what they will do (perception of force). These vial people – with no regard for human life or individual rights, they are extremists with murder on the mind and hate in the heart — this is who we are up against in this cause.
SCIRI, Badr corps, al-Quds, Madhi Malitia, Sadr (These are groups funded by the Iranian Gov) and a bunch of other groups are all people who I have been exposed to in Iraq and it is my belief these guys really mean what they are saying (when they quote the koran) and doing. They are evil. They are efficient and heartless and feel they are benevolent and instructed by God to purvey their treachery on the Kafir (Infidel in the dar al harb vs dar al islam…. look it up) world. These are not people who you can have a cordial conversation with or even negotiate with. They’re way is the way of Saul Alinski and is without conscience and ordained by their god because the ends are the same as the means: Righteous.
There is a definite Paradigm shift in core values in fanatical Islam. Anything called good, right and kind (as the west defines it) is punishable by death solely on the fact we (the west) are not Muslim and they (Muslims) have to cause chaos so the Mahdi can come to life and conquer the world (sounds like a crazy movie, right?).
Most Americans tend to think the whole of Iran is like Ahmadinejad and his Regime (due to media bias and neglect). Most Iranians do not believe what the government there does. The oppressed of this country feel they should have rights and a say in what goes on in their country’s government, economy, army, religion and rights. The Persians in Iran are a kind people who have goodness in their hearts. They can disagree and not come to violence. Their lives have been torn apart, their history raped and pushed to the brink of erasure, their choices and future force-fed to them.
The average Persian you meet in Iran is usually a very open type of person.
Bahii’, Zoroastrian, Jews and Christians make up a large portion of the Iranian population and I found they are usually a very affable people in my experiences with them.
If we are not successful giving these people a voice in the world and a fighting chance, we too will be snuffed out by the scourge that is Radical Islam led by the Iranian Government one day.
Exposing people to the reality of this situation and giving it a real face and a real voice will make it a moral imperative for people around the world to help fight something that seeks to put us all under its iron fist or under 6 feet of earth, which ever comes first. This is a just cause if ever there was.