Ekbatan Observer

Chronicling Iran's struggle towards political emancipation

8 May 2006

By the Way!

Reza Bayegan

By the Way is a short column appearing from time to time.

Freedom of speech is a human right, and like all other rights it entails a responsibility. This responsibility ought to be discharged with utmost care and discipline. The greatest dictatorship that anyone is challenged to overcome in one’s life is the dictatorship of ignorance; ignorance not necessarily of information, but wisdom. The nature of the crisis in our country necessitates the active participation of each and every citizen in credible political debates, forums, and conferences. Any Iranian activist worth his or her salt should observe a few ground rules, inter alia:

1) Find out what is on the agenda ahead of time.

2) Do your homework before you get to the meeting. Familiarize yourself with the topic.

3) Listen before you speak.

4) When you speak, try to exercise economy and tidiness in your language. Genuine political debate is not a monologue, but consists of arriving at the best possible position through a process of collaboration and dialogue.

5) Do not meander all over the place, recounting irrelevant anecdotes or trying to impress others with your accumulated knowledge and background. In other words: do not wear your knowledge on your sleeves. Stay focused on the topic at hand.

5) Democratic debates by definition require tolerance, courtesy and a peaceful exchange of viewpoints. Primadonnas are out of place in a true political debate.

6) Be sincere. Wheeling and dealing as an end in itself is nothing but vacuous and degrading.

7) When in danger of getting carried away, remind yourself that you are only one viewpoint amongst almost 70 million.

8) Always keep in mind that there are far worse fates than defeat. Never lose sight of the golden rule that it profits a man or a woman nothing to gain the whole world and lose his or her integrity.

Please let me know of other items that can be added to this list or any modifications: rbayegan@hotmail.com