Thursday, September 4, 2008


Harappa-Mohenjo daro.... Zapotec Mayan..... Shang dynasty.... the pyramids, etc... We've learned all about these in school.

But as I went through last month's copy of National Geographic, my breath was taken away by the story of Parsa. What was later called Persopolis, under the Greek influence. Parsa... Persopolis.... The Persian City. This place is so important, it even found its way in the Bible.

When we think of Iran today, we automatically associate it with the Ayatholla.... women in veil.... too much fighting.... Indeed, Iran leaves a bad taste in our mouths and westernized mind.`Their culture demonized in western cinema... escalating war of words with Washington D.C. as menacing would-be terrorists out to build the bomb.´

This makes me think. Truly, why do we associate Iranians with Arabs? Or with anything for that matter? Iran is Iran. Period. The world has so much to learn from this old culture. In fact, the Philippine political world (washing dirty linen in public), has soooooo much to learn from these people.

In Iran for instance, there is such a thing as taarof, the unwritten code as to how people should treat each other. The beauty about taarof is that, in a hierarchical society like Iran, people paradoxically deal with each other as equals. One tries to be smooth and sincere while hiding his true feelings. In other words, you never show your intention or real identity to forge a friendship based on equal trust.

BUT as far as our `boxing´ and `labeling´ western-oriented minds are concerned, they are pretentious and treacherous. Are they really? Perhaps, they are simply being cautious. After all, there had been a lot of danger throughout their history. A person´s way to protect himself is to never expose himself.

Maybe if we do not expose ourselves too much, wars (word war also) could be avoided.

On the many carvings on what´s left of its stone walls (which was published on the NG) for example, it is noteworthy that there is absence of violence in this old civilization. There were soldiers, but they were not fighting. There were weapons, but they were not drawn.

Empires and dynasties came and went. And while it is true that their history is undeniably saturated with wars and invasions, so much trade and cultural interchange, Iranians are just direct descendants of polite, peaceloving, hardworking and respectful people. And that's that it.

So next time you plan your trip, include the historic Parsa.

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