Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Different Mindset

Today, Ahmadinejad won the Iranian presidential elections to secure his second term. Before the results came out, I kept hearing encouraging news about the main opposition candidate Mousavi. His platform was more democratic and his wife encouraged many women to support him. I began to hope, that this man would change the face of Iran. I was hoping that a win from him might change the U.S.-Iranian relations. 

However, that did not occur. And I began to wonder why. Sure, rigging could have occurred, but since Ahmadinejad won by about 30 percentage points, I find it hard to believe that he rigged it that much. So why could the Iranian people see Ahmadinejad for what I saw him for? A crazy man who hates Israel and wants to push his own agenda so much that he denies historical facts like the Holocaust. 

But one man interviewed on NPR brought up a good point. He was in New York, voting in the Iranian elections. He said that he was voting for Ahmadinejad because the current president demanded respect from Western nations like the United States. When I heard this before the elections, I brushed it off as one of probably a few people who believed this. I thought a lot of people probably would just vote for Ahmadinejad because they were somehow involved in his politics. But after the election, I realized this was not the case. 

Of course there are many reasons why people voted for him. The poorer individuals probably voted for him because he promised them his support. But I began to think of that man's reasoning again...he demands respect. Then I thought, maybe it really is our fault that Ahmadinejad won. Because of years of the West acting like they are better than our Eastern counterparts, we have driven them to turn to leaders who "demand respect," whether that be through nuclear arms, threats of hoarding oil or many other similar tactics. 

When all of the European countries pulled out of Africa, dictators started taking over. Why was that? Again, there are probably tons of reasons. But I can't help but think that one of those reasons is because the people were hurt. They were knocked down, and they needed to know that they were not inferior. And if one of their people could get up and show himself to be a strong, domineering individual, it meant they, the people, were not inferior. 

It's time we show these countries a little respect. I'm not promoting soft negotiations. We must look out for our own interests as well. But it's time we stop acting superior. It's time we try to look through another person's eyes. We think democracy is flawless elections and millions of dollars spent on political campaigns. But isn't the basis of democracy allowing everyone to have a voice? So lets see what the people of other countries see. Let's hear what they hear. Then, maybe we can understand what they want.

I have a feeling it won't be that much different from what we want as well...a little freedom, a little security, a little happiness... a little respect.