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The thing with feathers

Emily Dickinson called hope “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” It is. We’re not believers, we’re hopers. Witness the response to Rouhani’s trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, the groan heard around the world when he eschewed Ban Ki-moon’s luncheon for heads of state—missing a great opportunity to high-five the U.S. President—and then the shying away from a chance meeting with Obama who, obviously the bigger man, had no problem taking that extra step. But all was not lost as the two men did have a 15-minute long friendly discussion over the phone. feathers

So, is a door opening there? Rouhani’s election certainly was a turning point, not least because of the contrast he offers with the miserable Ahmadinejad, his predecessor. Indeed, Rouhani’s well-tailored clerical robes, pleasant expression and measured tone are far different from the rumpled polyester sports jacket, close-set eyes and irrational rants of Ahmadinejad. The new Iranian President’s experience in navigating the shoals of the complex Iranian regime has proven far-reaching and useful—a few months ago no one would have bet on him to win both the Supreme Leader’s heart and the elections. So, will the game change? The stakes are high. Iran, brought to its knees by international sanctions, is ready to sit at the table regarding its nuclear program, if only to buy time. For Iranians worn out by Islamic-Republic fatigue inside that blighted country, even a partial lifting of sanctions and a little more leniency in the application of the awful Islamic strictures that forbid this, that and pretty much everything would make a big difference.

As history tells us over and over, hope is not misplaced. Bad regimes fall, unacceptable international behavior changes, not playing by the rules can only buy that much time. That’s how it works. Look at how quickly communism, poured in concrete, crumbled so that not even its dust remains (you may not believe it now but even Putin will eventually disappear). The thousand-year Reich lasted all of twelve years. Repression doesn’t work, neither do lies and obfuscation. Before you say it, I will–yes the United States is often incoherent, brutal, makes mistakes and often stupid (or even criminal, particularly in the Bush Administration) decisions, but the overall forward march, bumbling as it is, is that of democracy.

Not only does hope perch in our souls but it keeps us going. We will indeed hope that our loved ones are safe, that there is an afterlife, that we will win the lottery, achieve our potential as human beings, that it will never rain again, that friendships don’t end and love lasts forever, and that the world will be at peace. And yes, many of these hopes are dashed when they hit reality but that doesn’t stop the fluttering of wings.

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Categories: Daily life
  1. Jonathan Agronsky
    September 29, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Seeing this writer so lucidly and consistently transforming complex issues into accessible, simplified prose gives me hope. The fact that the content always comes directly from the heart makes my own tired wings flutter.

    Like

  2. bobbietroy
    October 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I agree with Jonathan. And I absolutely love the last paragraph. We must hope in order to survive.

    Like

  3. Melinda Barnhardt
    October 23, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    I am sorry to be so late in reading this absolutely outstanding post. Thank you for continued excellence, Saideh.

    Like

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