Once again, I’m taken to task by fellow Iranians for not turning my exclusive attention to the latest important event in the Middle East—the assassination in Lebanon—and not showing enough concern about the Syria/Nasrallah/Ahmadinejad shenanigans or the Iran/Turkey pitch for supremacy in that part of the world. True, the situation is distressing and I would love to see Iranian-backed Assad pay for the murder of more than 30,000 Syrians in recent months and for all the crimes of Hezbollah in Lebanon, including this latest one. I would love to see the Iranian mullahs slink into oblivion—replaced by better or worse, who knows? But even I, the perennial optimist, cannot believe that any of these benighted countries will ever improve or even evolve. Right now, I am much more preoccupied by the reelection of Obama—a Romney/Ryan victory would make the Bush years seem like a golden age—and its per se importance, and not, like other Iranian-Americans, only because of the impact on Iranian politics. Read more…
The keyword here is “reasonable.” If not, I’ll drift off to total fantasyland, start imagining that peace has come to our wretched world, that countries which have recently gotten rid of their corrupt dictators will turn into perfect secular democracies on the—why not?— Scandinavian model; Bashar Assad will go poof in the air; there will be no ongoing conflict and no displaced, starving populations anywhere; Netanyahu will be replaced by David Grossman and Romney will give up both political ambition and private equity firms and go back to being a missionary in the House of Mormon. And so on and so forth.
Okay, even I, the inveterate dreamer, can’t fantasize to this extent. But here’s a daydream about Iran, beside wishing that the loathsome present theocracy would end. It goes like this:
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei receives a visitation from one of the holy figures of shiism, say Imam Reza—dead for twelve centuries—who launches into a presentation (dare I say PowerPoint?) of a blueprint for the country’s energy program. In his intro, Imam Reza goes over the existing resource, fossil fuel, which he declares to be a) the cause of too many conflicts over the century of its exploitation; b) having finite reserves— which, in Iran, estimates vary, are due to be depleted another hundred or two hundred years from now—and c) a threat to our deteriorating environment, both in extraction and in use.
Then Imam Reza goes into the potential resource, nuclear energy, which Iran is working toward, and here too declares himself against it. His reasons are a) given the present political climate and the tense relations between Iran and the rest of the world, everyone will always be concerned that the country’s nuclear program is not geared solely toward nuclear energy (“and it’s not,” he adds in passing, “as you and I both know,”) and this keeps us on the brink of disaster should anyone feel threatened by our progress in the matter; b) countries pursuing a nuclear energy solution to become fossil-fuel independent court accidents that come at great cost to humans and to the environment—Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and incidents on lesser sites should give us pause, and the more nuclear plants are built, the more danger threatens us all.
“So here’s what I suggest for our energy needs. First, put an end to our nuclear program. Completely, irrevocably. Dismantle present sites and invite interested parties to see for themselves. Then, assign full resources and scientists to R&D followed by implementation for alternative energy programs.”
Imam Reza enumerates the possibilities which, if acted upon, would make Iran the world’s poster child for renewable energy: Wind power (he adds that he’s partial to wind turbines, finding them most graceful), solar power, hydrogen, biomass, oceans, there’s no end of solutions, says the Imam. Several countries are working toward zero dependence on fossil fuel and on nuclear energy, he adds. Iceland, a small country to be sure, was one of the first. And now there’s Germany, Japan, others, actively pursuing that goal. And numerous countries are implementing measures that may be more gradual but follow the same thinking. You do realize that our political system is far from being accepted by the community of nations. Imagine the spectacular response, the world’s surprise and admiration, if you declare Iran’s utter commitment to renewable energies. Alhamdolellah—thank God—we have everything we need to turn our country into the laboratory of the future: the knowledge and know-how, bright scientists, wealth (which our oil can help maintain, though with seriously scaled back operations). This should be the goal for our beloved Iran.
Khamenei who has been listening respectfully speaks up for the first time, “and for our beloved Islam.” Imam Reza, his mind elsewhere, waves a hand. “Yes, that too.”
Anyone old enough to remember the four Superman movies in which Christopher Reeve played the superhero must, somewhere, still miss him. I know I do. There are other superheroes—where would our miserable and often brutish humankind be if it weren’t rescued, time and again, by assorted Spidermen, Batmen, and other good guys wearing spandex and endowed with amazing powers? But Superman is the only one who can fix everything and Christopher Reeve embodied him to perfection.
It was a singular twist of fate that he, of all people, would, in 1995, have a horseback riding accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. But even in a wheelchair, even with a respirator, the actor remained the epitome of bravura. No one tried as hard to help himself (and others, through the Foundation he set up). No one but Superman would have had the gumption to endure, day in and day out, the grueling exercise and training regimen that he followed, hoping to, wanting to, walk again. He never did and died in 2004. Read more…