Friday, June 26, 2009

We - The People

I am sitting at my desk this morning with a web page staring back at me - and something that feels like bared teeth and taunting seems to be growing in my gut the more I ponder the site... If you can't quite decipher the pasted image, this is a contact page for Iran's recently re-elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian-Americans I've seen on television this week have urged US citizens - individuals, not the government - to contact Iranian leaders to put voice to our longing for sanity and justice and honest government processes in Iran. So, I decided to go looking for a way to the top. Much to my surprise, it's there. As easy as sending an email to Barack Obama, I can send a message to the president of Iran. All I have to do is enter my contact information. Gulp. Before I could take a breath, the images and stories from the streets of Iran stampeded my senses. Somehow I felt completely vulnerable sitting in the safety of my own home, under the protective laws of the United States of America, 8,000 miles on the other side of the world. Should I tell the Ahmadinejad regime where I live in a valiant attempt to tell the president what I think? If you read here very often or share a bottle of wine with me from time to time, you know I am not shy about contacting elected leaders. It has never, ever - not once - occurred to me to worry about letting anyone on Capitol Hill know who I am or where I live. (Frankly, I'd be more concerned about my neighbors - see "I Believe in Human Kindness" from 10/31/08.) But here I sit - wanting to tell President Ahmadinejad that Americans like me are not interested in imposing the US Constitution on the Islamic Republic of Iran. I want him to hear from a politically liberal suburban mom in Austin, Texas that peaceful protests are the very means by which would-be reformers maintain their patience and tolerance. I am eager to write a line to him about the richness of a culture that affords women the same opportunities it gives men. And, I want to wish him peace. I will stare at the mocking page a while longer - until my unrealistic fear subsides. Then I will write. I will write to the leader of the government that would not allow the family of Neda Soltan to grieve with friends; the government that is reportedly torturing its own citizens to make a point; to the president who has called my president out for the tone in his voice. Ahmedinejhad cannot harm me. I am a citizen of the United States of America. Land of the free. Home of the brave. Thank you to the brilliant thinkers who sat together for almost four months in 1787 to write four pages that begin:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Surely I am at least empowered enough to send an email from 8,000 miles away. Will you join me? In the name of peace?

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