Friday, 10 July 2009

Why the current protest can create substantive change or reform in Iran

The current protest can create real change in Iran only if the Iranians and the West pay avid attention to the root causes of 1979 Revolution.

Looking back at the root cause of the 1979 revolution they're a few main facts that jumps out which really brought the then Iranian Government down. These are:

  • There culture was under attack from the West
  • The West was taking their jobs and the Iranians were getting poorer
  • The West was seen as the enemy by the masses
  • The population was largely unskilled, more matured and whole hearted believe in the opposition
  • The death of One of the Ideologue (Opposition to the Government) was blamed on the Intelligence Service SAVAK

The above factors worked to a successful revolution and bring about substantive change because:

  • The government at that time was being influenced by outside factors and the importing of a culture oppose to that of an Islamic culture was being allowed.
  • Foreign workers were doing Iranian jobs and taking their wealth and the citizens of Iran were driven into poverty and felt like second-class citizens. This creates a legitimate hatred and mistrust of the West and thus the West was seen as the enemy.
  • The masses in Iran at the time weren't very educated and also they didn't have any access to the type of technology that is available presently.
  • The death of one of the Ideologue of the revolution was blamed on the Secret Intelligent Service of the then Government.

The present Government in Iran is relying on the same tactic that brought a successful revolution in 1979 to hold onto power today. The Government that came out of the revolution hasn't been progressive and have been stuck in the old principles hoping that it would sustain them. They have continued to blame the west for their current problems hoping to ignite the same type of hatred felt toward the west in the 70's. That tactic will not work and cannot work because the political landscape is very different from that of the 70's for the following reasons:

· The government that came out of the revolution have developed a structure and philosophy that would make it difficult for the West to have any significant influence.

· The major economic drivers are controlled by the Iranians (The Government; Guardian Council)

· The masses are now highly skilled and very educated.

· The masses have access to powerful communicative technology

There is now an opportunity, an opening for Iranians to bring about substantive change or reform the way their Country is run. The economy is failing and therefore it is the Government to be blamed, there is no outside influence and no foreigners from the West doing Iranian jobs. The masses are more educated and it would be difficult for the Government to make them believe that all of Iran's problems are because of the West. The Government have found itself in such a precarious position, that it is now reverting to tactics of jailing journalists and taking to the airwaves with provocative statements trying to entice the West into responding or attacking Iran so as to blame the current crisis on the West. The West is doing the most important strategic thing by not responding to Iran's action and allowing the people of Iran to see that the present Government policies are failed policies and the only way to hold onto power is by turning the Country practically to a Communist regime.

The only remaining hope that the Iranian Government is banking on is support from Russia. They're hoping that with their oil and with Russia's appetite for more oil they will get some type of support. (False hope on their part, I'll expound on this in another article)

Substantive change might be on the brink in Iran because the Iranian regime and their philosophy have not been progressive and have stuck to what worked in 1979. The tactics that worked in 1979 to allow them into government cannot work today for them to hold onto power. The economy is failing, there isn't work for the thousands of Iranian graduates, the wealth is concentrated to just the privileged few, the families of the Guardian Council and people in power are getting richer and the masses poorer. There isn't any visible interference from the west and as such the people of Iran have come to see that the policies of their present Government is a failed one and their old tactics of blaming the west is a myth. They alone are responsible for the economic mess in Iran, their isolation from the rest of the world and the people are now demanding change. There might be more bloodshed but I believe substantive change or substantive reform will come about in Iran very soon.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Will Iranian protests bring about substantive change?

The current protest and bloodshed that the world is watching taking place in Iran is much to be admired. Admired for the simple reason that on the surface it looks as though freedom of expression is taking place in a Society that would not normally allow it. It looks as though radical change might come about as a result. As we all know, it would have to take more than the protest we're seeing for substantive change to come about.

Lets go back in time and explore the how the Iranian Revolution or the Islamic Revolution came to birth and in doing so we might be able to answer the question "Will Iranian protest bring about substantive change?" Before the Islamic Revolution, Iran was rules by a Monarchy under Reza Shah. He established an authoritarian government that valued nationalism, militarism, secularism and anti-communism combined with strict censorship and state propaganda. He was a reformist who valued the way of living of the west. He was pushing through agendas that would have clashed with the fundamental rule of Islam. This caused him to clash with the Iranian clergy and mass protest took place but the police eventually quashed it. Thousand were killed and scores were injured. His reign as the Head of Iran ended because of his weakness and closeness with the regime in Germany; at that time and the Americans, The British and Soviet invaded Iran. His son Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi took over as the leader of Iran because he was more Anglo thinking and leaning. With his reign brought fresh problems that were too much for the Iranian to tolerate. Under his rule, the Shah regime allowed foreigners to operate the Oil Industry and share the profits fifty, fifty. Iran saw a total onslaught on their values, and a type of economic colonialisation by the British and USA experience by so many other Countries. Iranians were excluded from all the extravagance and the wealth that was being enjoyed by the foreigners in the height of the oil boom. The Iranians continue to slip further and further into poverty while to their eyes, foreigners were enjoying their wealth. During this time people took to the streets but again this was met with force from the police and eventually quashed without bring about any change at all.

During the reign of Pahlavi his Anglo leaning policies brought about an economic and spiritually disaster in Iran. Pahlavi Anglo leaning policies and friendship with the west brought about a deep-seated hatred in the Iranians peoples mind for the West and Pahlavi because the foreigners were taking their wealth and they were getting poorer. Their culture was also dramatically under attack. The majority of the Iranian population at that time were culturally and religiously conservative and as such see themselves as Martyrs defending Islam. They were also very much unskilled and a much older population.

The massive demonstrations that brought about substantive change in Iran in 1978 was brought because of the following reasons:

· The Islamic Culture was under threat
· There was a major economic crisis
· The West was seen as the enemy
· The population was largely unskilled and more matured
· The death of One of the Ideologue that was blamed on the Intelligence Service SAVAK
The philosophy of the Islamic revolution in 1979 is built on the following: The ideology of the revolutionary government was populist, nationalist and most of all Shi'a Islamic. Its unique constitution is based on the concept of velayat-e faqih the idea advanced by Khomeini that Muslims —- in fact everyone —- requires "guardianship," in the form of rule or supervision by the leading Islamic jurist or jurists. Iran's rapidly modernizing, capitalist economy was replaced by populist and Islamic economic and cultural policies. Much industry was nationalized, laws and schools Islamicized, and Western influences banned.

The current demonstrations in Iran would bring about change but not substantive change, at least not yet. The change that we will see coming out of this demonstration would only be aesthetic not substantive change. The current regime would have to thrust the Country into economic turmoil like that before the Islamic revolution before any substantive change can come about.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Breakdown of Morality and the failed message of the Church

When I was growing up in the 70's and 80's I was thought to govern my life by a set of principles called "morals" set out by the Church and Society.   These principles govern my conscience so that when I'm about to do something, even if it's correct to do within the remits of the law, I should judge it based on my conscience and my morals.  Some of these morals are, just to name a few, love thy neighbour as thy self meaning treat people the way you would like to be treated, be just and fair, truthfulness, abhor lies, the love of money is the root of all evil (do not be greedy), do not envy, do not hate, abhor bigotry, love of family etc.  The Church at that time played such a pivotal role in the communities in fashioning these simple principles and reminding people of what is right and just.


Over the years, I have seen first hand how Society and Church have disintegrated or have become less relevant.  The values that I grew up with slowly weren't being thought as aggressively anymore.  In the early 90's it was the height of the capitalism, banking, fashion boom, music videos, sneakers (trainers).   The height of Capitalism in this period ushered in selfishness and greed.  Everyone wants to be rich and would do anything to get there.  Children and adults no longer values what I know as good morals, their focus was somewhere else, like trying to wear the best sneakers (trainers), looking like the stars in the music videos and the ability to nurture and develop good morals become less relevant.  Hatred and even abuse started to become very prevalent, children were being thought through society to hate and not to love.  Exclusion greed and fear was the thing of the day.  A clear break down and disregard for family was also clear to see from peoples behaviour. In the midst of all this turmoil and goings on, more and more young people were being recruited into the Church but this level of moral breakdown was continuing.


This brings me to the question of why?  I was going to Church at that time also; being active in the Church and even began to attend Bible School for a brief while. Sitting here today and thinking back to the core message of the Church at that time, I realised that the message at that time was significantly different from when I was growing up. The message was no longer of Love and Hope and Tolerance anymore.  Instead I was being thought that my religious theology was the only and best and any other Theology is wrong.  I was told that gays will be burned in Hell and I should not associate myself with them and scripture sighted to support that "Come out from among them and be ye separated".  During that time the Church began to move away from the core message of the Gospel and started to focus their attention on a narrow message.  Ministers started to pay themselves massive salaries sighting that the Prophet of God should be taken care of. The Prosperity Gospel was being preached, feeding into the new Capitalism and glamour.  Every Pastor wants to drive the best cars, live in the best and most posh flats and houses.  This period also lead the way for each and every Pastor having a book deal.  GREED took hold of the Church and they abandoned their core morals and thus the breakdown of Society.  Bigotry and Hatred was even preached from the pulpit.  The New Testament that is so full of bigotry was being quoted over and over to support their narrow failed message.  I have seen first hand, how believers become totally fooled into thinking that they don't have to do a hard days work for a hard days pay and some how the Lord is going to provide some way of making them rich.  People action began to be filled with temerity with no regards for other peoples feeling.  It is my belief that over the years the Church have lost their way in the world by continuing to preach a message that was not in keeping with the basic foundation of Christianity and as such Society, which is formed around the Church, began to fail.


Time change, new Science is discovered and the percentage of uneducated 10 years ago will not be the same percentage today.  Knowledge increases everyday.  I believe in the study of Hermeneutics as described in Wikepedia  "Contemporary or modern hermeneutics encompasses not just issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process. This includes verbal and nonverbal forms of communication as well as prior aspects that impact communication, such as presuppositions, preunderstandings, the meaning and philosophy of language, and semiotics."    It is my belief that the Church has a responsibility to Society to study the text they read to derive their message preached to Society to see if it is going to be relevant in the changing times but not steering from the main principle message of the Church which should be Love, Hope, Faith and Tolerance.   The tough and hard questions needed to be asked about the time and circumstances and interpretation of the text to see its relevance and proper interpretation for the time we are living in.  This has never been done, instead the Church continues down the same failed path over and over again and nothing to this day has changed.  The Church Scholars refuse to come up with anything new and Society has caught on and today the Church is not relevant.


Societies are built around the Church and see the Church as the moral authority.  If the Church is failing in its basic message then it is my belief that Societies are going to fail and morality would breakdown.  The sickness of money and greed, selfishness, hated and all the things that are not conducive to a strong society are going to grow and eventually be out of control.    This can be proven today in every society across the globe.  Hatred is on the rise, crime is sky rocketing, people don't even know their neighbours and don't care either, poverty is rampant, disease is on the rise, faith has declined, hope has declined and intolerance have increased in every corner of the earth e.  " Then Financial Collapse, The British MP's expense scandal".


I have no problem with capitalism so readers don't get me wrong but in practicing capitalism we have to do so responsibly and that's where good morals, strong society and where the pivotal role of the Church comes into play.  Recently we have seen the collapse of the world financial system, which have been reported by all media and and Government that the main culprit is GREED and people acting irresponsibly.  Why?  It's brings us back to good morals which guide our conscience.  That tells us that something is morally wrong even if it falls within the remit of the law.  It is that morals that say to our conscience that if we participate in a certain action the immoral effect it would have on other people is just not right.  That basic message the Church failed to communicate, over and over, failed. The Pastors who preach that prosperity (GREED) gospel should share a great burden for the failure of Society, as we know it.  Luke 19:45-46 then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. [46] "It is written," he said to them, "'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'"



Then there is the problem of exclusion, intolerance and bigotry found so much in the New Testament.  These have contributed so much to a lot of prejudice.  Society believes that people should be persecuted just because they're different, because this is practiced in the Church.  The Church gives legitimacy to prejudice. These same people were looking to the church for comfort but instead they were excluded.  People became disillusioned and started to question the teaching of the Church.  How is it that we were taught the foundation of Christianity is Love and yet the Church is not tolerant to people who do not conform to a certain behaviour pattern and began to exclude them from the majority, pre-empting and tolerating not condemning hatred etc.  According to Proverbs 10:12 it say this about hatred "Hatred stirred up strife: but love covered all sins".  I wonder what the writer of proverbs was thinking when he made that statement.  It means to me that the main message of Love should be preached at all times, that the Church should be tolerant and inclusive and not exclusive.  People look to the church to be the moral authority, when the Church lost it's main and core message and narrow it's message to exclusion, intolerance, and hatred then the mess the world is in the Church is to be blamed for most of it. 



Over the years morality has broken down to such an extent that people are no longer respected because of their moral standing in society but because of the size of their Bank accounts.  Morality has been replaced with a type of Capitalism called GREED.  One example of this is here in the UK the media have paraded the footballers and there wives and the amount of money they're paid weekly as role models.  No one have taken into account or even bother to inquire about their morals, what do they believe, how they conduct themselves etc.  They are the new moral authority (MONEY, DRUGS, ALCOHOL) this is also true for the people that work in the City here in London and the Financial District in the USA.  We have elected leaders on both side of the Atlantic who have been trusted with the Nations purse being engaged in unethical and unjust behaviour or even fraud (British MP's Expense Scandal).  Money and Greed have replaced morality.


It is time for the Church to return to basics, to return to the teaching of Love, Faith, Hope and tolerance.  Teaching people to Love their neighbours, to abhor hated, to Love, not to be Greedy, to hope and have faith again.  The Church needs to find a way to rebuild society, as we know it.    To retake their standing in the world as the moral authority, to study and interpret the text that they derive their message and make it more relevant to today's world.  The world is looking for moral direction and it is time the Church rise to the challenge.   The Pope and the Spiritual Ministers around the world have to abandoned that narrow message of exclusion and intolerance and employ a big tent approach.  Employ Educated Scholars who are willing to have tough conversation about the different text and rewrite commentaries that can be applied to everyday life and hopefully people will see the relevance of the Church again.



Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Following from my first post about the social issues of Ethnic Minorities, I continue by expanding on my thoughts.

Equal Opportunities or Equal under the Law should afford every individual the same opportunities suffice that they are prepared to work hard. I look at the recent election of Barack Obama in the United States of America and have seen how far the American people have come in accepting or should I say tolerating racial harmony even though they're still much work to be done. That election to me was the last hope for everyone on this earth because it gives everyone who falls into the category of minority to feel hope and and belief in the system that at least in the USA Equal Under the Law/Equal Opportunity appears to be working. If the people believes that the system of Equal Opportunity is working it would instill a sense of hard work and excellence in whatever people do. People would strive to be better i.e more people would want to go back to school to better themselves, this would result in more and more people coming off the benefit. All people wants to be guaranteed that if they work hard, that they will be treated fairly and as a result their lives is going to become better.

I have friends from all walks of life and in different class. Some of my friends are in the upper class of society and some are in the working (lower class) of society. This differentiation doesn't mean that my friends in the lower class of society doesn't have the same level of education or even more than my friends who are considered in the upper class. They have jobs and are hard working as the ones in the upper class. The question I'm trying to ask myself is, why haven't they made it to that class or why weren't they given the opportunity to even demonstrate their capabilities? Most of the friends in the lower class or what I consider lower class have accents which aren't necessarily British as they're from all parts of the Caribbean. That doesn't mean that they don't have impeccable grammar and easy to understand accents. So why it it that they're finding it so difficult to find jobs or if in work, upward mobility is a steep climb.

This is a discussion that needs to be had and I wish we all read and comment on this.

Get reading and share your comments.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Employment and the social ladder

I'm writing from my personal experience and a lot of my mates as an ethnic minority living here in the UK. I have found that a lot of ethnic minorities especially black men even though we're highly educated and have the relevant experience to operate at a very high level in the work place; we're not given the chance to do so and especially in very big Companies. When we're actually given the opportunity it's within very small family run Companies with 6 or 8 employees. This to me is very bad in a lot of sense for the following reason: Small Companies do not have the funds to make their salary scale comparable with say medium to large Companies with someone of the same qualifications and experience. When we do apply to the large companies we're told we have too many small Company experience and thus we're over looked for the jobs. This is creating a whole lot of social problem because even though we're being preached today in and day out about equal opportunities, I feel that it is not really being practiced and thus leaving black men especially at the bottom of the social ladder and continually creating a a society of the haves and have nots.

This type of exclusion to me is spilling over even into social circles where only people of a certain ethnic group can afford to socialize at certain bars and restaurants and black men and a large part of the ethnic minority community is pushed to socialize in the most grotty and dangerous parts of society.

Equal opportunity to me means total integration at all levels of society and zero tolerance on all levels of exclusion.

These are some of my thoughts, do comment and let's get this discussion started.