Looking down on the vastness that is Iran, I ponder what will allow it to be free and expressive of its beauty. So rich, yet so sad, physically choking on its own effluent, emotionally it is being strangled by fear. Fear pervades so many decisions made by the people of Iran that we in the west take for granted. Fear of speaking openly; fear that a satellite dish may be taken, in other words, fear of speaking, and listening.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is afraid of information. As with any totalitarian state it must impose its view through fear and intimidation. I realize that only now, as I fly away from Iran over European airspace, that I feel free to openly discuss, even with myself, the large contingent of various security forces that are ever present throughout the Republic. From the fighter jets that greet you on the tarmac of Meherabad Airport to the police officers stationed at 50-meter intervals up both sides of Vali Asr Street surrounding a park during the Narooz celebration, the imposition of government security is pervasive.
Three times in two weeks we were stopped at police checkpoints. Our vehicle was searched and identification checked. I saw countless military police and special forces patrols every day that I travelled. On several occasions I witnessed security forces patrolling the streets or guarding a building armed with fully automatic weapons.
I am now flying over Germany, soon to descend into Amsterdam. I look down on the neatly cared for rural landscape, the well-organized cities, and the traffic flowing on the autobahn. Less than sixty years ago this country was devastated by war, its infrastructure destroyed and its people despairing at the site of the ruins that lay around them. How could they rebuild? How could they make life worth living again? Since, then, they did that, and much more. They have many modern day problems, but they have developed a country that is a respected world leader.
Germany was able to move from a totalitarian, repressive, militaristic society. I believe Iran can as well. The Iranian society is as rich and its culture as strong as anything German society has laid claim to. It is my hope that Iran can move on the path of becoming a more open, free and pluralistic society. All the people of Iran deserve it.