I am a child of nowhere--at least I thought so until this week. Though born in London and educated at Oxford, my heritage is Iranian. Both my parents are from Tehran, where I also spent part of my childhood. I immigrated to Los Angeles in 1985, later married an American and gave birth to an American son. When it comes to explaining my cultural identity, my head spins uncontrollably like that of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. No single country defines me, rather a combination of all three, depending on the situation. Living far from Iranian family and friends in suburban DC, Iran has been creeping lower on my totem pole.
But this week feels different. The Iranian in me is piping up. All you halves and mutts, like my son, all you multicultural schizophrenics, like me, there will come a time when parts of you come to life when you least expect them. However long or for whatever reason you suppress them, those parts of you that are from somewhere else will be at the fore.
For me, it started on Facebook. At first, the election in Iran meant little to me as an American bystander with no Iranian passport and no right to vote, except that I think a dangerous president who denies the Holocaust should be in a lunatic asylum, not running a large country.
Suddenly the postings on my News Feed went from Blank says I'm at a spa getting a pedicure to Blank says Long Live Freedom with an accompanying YouTube of a Basij motorcycle going up in flames. My Facebook transformed overnight into a place of intelligent political discussion, world-class articles on current events unfolding in Iran, videos of live demonstrations, Twitter posts of utmost urgency, all swathed in the color green. It is not that I think Facebook is for political purposes, but in a country where the passage of critical information is officially shutdown, I am grateful for its dissemination on the Web.
I felt an intense surge of patriotism for a country I barely know, a pride for the youthful population risking their lives to be heard, an incredulity at being a participant in history, a Webolution in the making, if not a Revolution. Then it occurred to me, in an ancient country where fallen regimes and dynasties are a dime a dozen, including the Safavid Dynasty, from whom I am descended, this spirit of rebellion must be in our genes.
Shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, I took part in a massive demonstration in London starting at Hyde Park Corner against the Ayatollah Khomeini. My older cousins and I -- they were gorgeous, with almond-eyes and flowing hair -- were front and center, leading the way. As a teenager, I thought we had more balls than a roomful of mullahs. I did not have a clue.
Whatever the short-term political outcome, for me, this is no longer about who wins the election. It is about growth, about grass roots, about the green. Suppressed for 30 years, some of the people of Iran have decided they have had enough and are demanding change. They are no longer afraid to take to the streets. This in itself is monumental.
I turned on the TV last night to get updates on Iran: I could not find a thing. Where was the real news? It was on my Facebook, where my youngest sister, married to an American Jew, has temporarily changed her profile picture to the Shahyaad Monument (now Azadi Monument), where I had to scroll through pages to catch up, where I can get the hot-off-the-street details on an election dispute that has taken on a life of its own.
I care less about the actual candidates. Between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hossein Mousavi, Mousavi is clearly the lesser of two evils. What we really need is for the axis to shift. It is moving.
"Are the Iranians still rioting?" asks my ten-year-old boy when he gets home from school the next day.
"Protesting, darling," I reply.
"Well, did they get rid of I'm a Dinner Jacket?"
"No, and they may not. But they're finally standing up for their rights and that's what really counts."
I may not be wearing green, but my eyes are flashing it. Green is the Color of Growth.