We are at a Crossroads, and Ayatollah Khamenei Urges us to Choose Peace
The Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies, Mr. Joaquin Flores argues for a more vigorous search for truth.
The world has arrived at a crossroads. This is a critical time, because the choices that are made will determine the kind of world which our children, and their children’s children, will inherit. The ramifications will be felt for generations to come.
In our daily lives, we are wise to approach things close to us with care and caution, but while being open to positive new developments and changes. We are wise when we live life without being blind or deaf to the mysterious and challenging combination of danger and opportunities which we are presented.
We are now at such a time of both significant danger and tremendous opportunity.
The United States of America is both a country and an empire. The people of the country seek peace and prosperity, but those managing the empire seem to prevent this at every turn. Political memories in the West are short, and so the present condition of war may feel like a new development. It is true that the intensity of the war-making has increased. But an honest and rigorous assessment of the US’s part shows that it has been involved in some conflict of its choosing for the greater part of its history.
It is for this reason, if not also for others, that we must treat US’s own concerns with the potential bellicosity of others with extreme skepticism. It is, unfortunately, the US which continues to threaten the world with violence, and acts upon those threats if its desires go unfulfilled. In the 20th century alone, the US has engaged in aggressive wars of conquest which have cost the lives of countless – but very much missed – millions of innocent people all over the world.
From this perspective, it is almost incredible that the US would think it possible to convince the world that its potential victim, and not itself, is the primary culprit at large.
For nearly fifteen years, the US has made most of its excuses for war and imperialism based upon Islamophobia. If this Islamophobia were simply ugly words and ideas, then such might be tolerated to an extent. But the feverish pitch of this phobia is being constructed to justify, yet still, more wars, more destruction, and more killing of innocents. Even the young men, as soldiers – who are forced to make war, who have not yet had a life to live, to reflect upon the world and the complexities of politics and wars, to have accomplishments of their own, to have families and the joys of maturity – all of these are lost as well.
Perhaps there are some, now, too hardened and set in their ways, too jaded by the rhetoric, or have been exposed for far too long to the habitual patterns of othering and war propaganda.
Given the crossroads we are at, and given the US’s propensity for war, given the Islamophobia being used as a tool in this, and given the power of habit and prejudice over many in the west – we can see the thoughtful intention behind Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei’s recent Letter to the Youth in Europe and North America, dated January 21st of this year.
He reflects an understanding that the advances in new media and communication allow a new generation of people in Europe and North America to see beyond the fences and walls created around them by their own societies. While he is clear that no single person or push can mend the rift between the Western and Islamic worlds, he asks that each one of us can see beyond the hyperbole and dangerous rhetoric, and seek out understanding. This can be done with a sense of compassion, fairness, and tolerance. His letter reaches out to the youth and asks of them to understand, in light of the crossroads that we are at, to view Islam with an open mind. He asks that the youth be critical, scientific in their investigation – to go to the primary source, the Quran, to understand its own tenets.
We should remember that religion, in general, represents the thoughts of mankind in a most inspired state; a state of reflection and with an aim towards the divine. Islam is no different in that regard, and in the west Christians, Jews, and atheists and others should approach these questions with this in mind.
These are not abstract questions, but ones which also call on us to reflect on the nature of war, imperialism, racism, supremacism, and peace.
The Ayatollah parts with words of optimism and hope, and these are not unfounded. Despite hardships, loss, and setbacks, people still hold peace and love in their hearts, and we have been able to move through and past dark times such as these before.
We have read of these past catastrophes, and learned of these from generations past. The difference is that we are at such a crossroads again – where we must choose between our higher and lower selves, and between a better or worse future. The difference is that it is we, and not those written about in the past, who must find the truth in ourselves and make the choice for the future.
Joaquin Flores is an American expat living in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and he has a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing the psychology of the propaganda wars. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation.
Source: LetterForTruth Response Section