the view from over here…

Just a quick post to comment on the ‘situation’ in Iran. Friends and family keep telling me that I’m “lucky” to have got out of Iran before this business with the British embassy in Tehran blew up. I cannot help but notice how the coverage on the TV here is very similar to that that I saw before I went to Iran. I cannot help further noticing that the comments people are making to me now – about how dangerous Iran is – are the same as they were before I went.

This seems to me curious on various levels. If I hadn’t actually been there I would have concluded – as everyone else seems to be doing – that yes, indeed, Iran is somehow ‘dangerous’… and yet when I was actually there I not only felt that it wasn’t dangerous, but I actually felt noticeably safer there than I would in many parts of the UK. In spite of having reported on this – acting almost as a live reporter for my friends and family – none of what I said seems to have softened people’s attitudes towards Iranians.

I don’t know if what is happening there indicates that something has changed – violently and for the worse – but, from my experiences, this seems to me unlikely. Instead I am left wondering why it is that the view of Iran from here is so completely different, so unrelentingly negative, than it is from over there…..

9 thoughts on “the view from over here…

  1. Hmmm… You can’t blame the people that care for you to wish you being ok. What if not only the UK embassy had closed, but all European? Then the airports closing? Then all borders? Foreigners screened? Are you completely sure that you’d be comfortably safe in the hands of the present Iranian government? That if some zealous puppet puts your name in Google and roots around, he’d have to conclude that “all is fine and sorry for the hassle?”… Don’t mistake the welcome you had from the 90% majority for what the remaining 10% and a government are capable of!

  2. you’re right, I should perhaps have made that distinction clearer – though, in truth, could your distinction not be just as easily made for every country on the planet? My focus has really been on the way that our news gives an impression that the actions of the Iranian government are identical with those of its people. All I am trying to do is counter that linkage. Just before I left you expressed concerns for the danger I was putting myself in. I judged that I was taking quite a little risk and so it proved…

  3. I’ve seen this from both sides – friends abroad (including those who’ve visited us) often worry when things happen here and are in the news. Even knowing what I do about the media image of a place vs. daily reality and ordinary people, I still worried about you going to Iran, but that wasn’t out of any suspicion of the average Iranian person, and news of the attack didn’t erase the wonderful perspective your blog had given on life there. But the news did confirm legitimate concerns about the officialdom that allowed the attack to go ahead. “Phew, thank goodness Ricardo wasn’t caught up in any unrest!” isn’t an unreasonable response, or one necessarily indicative of xenophobia or wilful ignorance…

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  5. My aunt loves saying in Chinese, if it’s you/yours then it’s you/yours. If it’s not then it’s not. She used to say it in the context of Mah Jong, where skill can only get you so far in escaping massive losses if you have bad luck, and where it is unnecessary if you have good luck.

    In general though, that’s how I came to think of percentages. It doesn’t matter if a country is 99% dangerous if you happen to be the 1% that experienced no danger. As long as you know how your experience stands on the probability line, you will have a better sense of the various sides.

    This is a very off-topic response to the discussion above, but it’s what i thought of when I read it.

    1. in truth I think that the percentages for the level of threat are actually quite low. However – and this is not entirely relevant to what you’ve written, Athena: at the time I wrote this, I was still deeply embedded in my experiences of meeting Iranians and having been a guest in their country, and I was not sufficiently making a distinction between the people and their government – and, in seeking to defend the former, I perhaps ended up defending the latter: that was not my intention…

      1. Totally agree about the distinction between government and people. I just was saying how our realities sometimes come down to a lot of chance…but even though your experience is influenced by chance, that experience once it’s happened beomes the 100% for you.

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