Where Did We Go Wrong ?

I have lived in California, most of my 31 years of life.  My parents are among the Iranians who immigrated to the U.S. after the revolution.  While they have been able to adapt and accept most aspects of the western culture, they have always insisted that my two sisters and I continue to learn about Iran and Persian culture.  I must say that I truly appreciate their efforts and feel the exposure to the two cultures has given me a better understanding of human nature and life. 

At home, I grew up eating Persian food, listening to the Persian music and laughing to the Persian jokes.  A few years ago, I moved out and got an apartment in the hip part of town. My parents still live in the old house that I find soothing and pleasant during my weekend visits. After all these years,  the house is still filled with warmth and love that is unique to Persian homes.   To me, my parents' home is an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the big city life.  There is always the familiar aroma of the Persian food suspended in the air.  Sometimes the Persian music is playing in the background.  I can still hear the echo of my voice and my sisters’ as young children growing up in the house.  Little things around the house remind me of my childhood memories.  I remember how my parents insisted on watching Persian TV programs that were aired in Southern California.  There was only one TV set in the house. My sisters and I always argued with them to let us watch the other channels. They were more interested in the news and the commentary programs. As children, all we noticed were few serious looking men having heated discussions and at times pounding on the table. We could not understand why they were so agitated.  Most of them sounded like our father when he was angry with us because of something that we had done wrong. We could not understand why Persian news had to be so different than the news programs on other channels. Nowadays when I visit my parents, sometimes the TV in the living room is on broadcasting the same Persian programs. Unlike the old times, the room is usually empty and nobody fights over which station to watch. Most programs have remained the same. Some of the same people still repeat their twenty-year old act and advertise Persian products of all kinds.   Few of them still look as angry as before. The old angry commentator who has now lost any cohesiveness that he may had had at one time still has his program.  The washed out actor who was never good at acting is still as disappointing as ever.  I saw the comedian who became a politician but forgot to change his act.  To me, he still looks more like a circus clown. I watched a poet who seemed far from reality as he recited poems about an era that no longer existed. I saw a charlatan who bombarded viewers with a mirage of cheaply made and never ending ads. As if these were not enough, there are more programs late at night. A clue-less but well dressed man strings bunch of words together that don't add up to anything. My father does not insist on watching the programs anymore.  He is disappointed with the programs and their contents that are just about selling advertisements. 

Where did we go wrong?  Why did we ever allow these people to taint our community so ruthlessly and so cheaply? Iranian community in the U.S. is made up of highly educated and talented people.  How did we ever allow the least educated and the least talented ones to take over the airways and feed us lies and deceptions?  These people never concern themselves with the needs of Iranian community in the U.S.  The majority of us are hard working honest people who enjoy good TV programming and honest reporting. We love Iran and get attracted to everything that sounds, looks, or smells Iranian.  The sponsors of these TV programs take advantage of this need and attraction.  I wonder if the business owners who advertise in these programs ever watch them.  I seriously doubt if they do. Otherwise, they would have stopped throwing their money away long ago.  Iranian business owners should feel more responsible towards the Iranian community.  They should be more particular about where they advertise their business.  After all, it is their advertising money that keeps Iranian media in business.  We as consumers should also feel responsible and let the business owners know their advertising programs are the reflection of their products and services and need to be taken more seriously.  

Shahrooz Nabati 
Feburary 1998 
California, U.S.A.