Tehran has been going through many shakes in the last few months following the presidential elections. These shakes, have, of course been non-seismic! This blog is meant to address the critical issues facing Tehran’s infrastructure and vulnerabilities, so it stayed quiet. However, although, during this sensitive time, infrastructure and role of engineers may seem to many of us as un-important or the last item on our list of priorities, it is in fact a fundamental step toward the common goals of all Iranians, regardless of their political agenda or crises.
Tehran remains to be highly divided and the government seems more divided than its subjects. But that is not my concern, as I’m sure many others are working on that. I am actually concerned about that part of us responsible for our own daily actions. I hear that construction projects are more or less dead in Tehran these days but are starting to move forward gradually. In the past few months, we have all been shaken hard by the wave of excitement and tragedies of our fellow Iranians. We all feel like we’ve been hit in the head a few times every day, watching the news or video clips of new stories. It’s draining, I know. But I also know that we always have a tendency to criticize others and not ourselves – the easiest job in the world.
Let me start with myself: I am trying hard to, as we say in Persian, not forget my mirror when I want to criticize others, including my friends, parents, teachers, and leaders.
I have learned not to criticize my leaders, when I myself sometimes have the tendency to be a dictator at home and in my family, when I have a tendency to sometimes lie or hide my faults, and when I sometimes impose my opinion on others (very often in fact). Look closely. Look around you in your own circle of friends and family. Aren’t we each the same as our leaders in a smaller scale? Do we truly respect all others for their opinions and religious beliefs? Do we truly work hard for the benefit of our society as a whole and not cheat whenever we have a chance to do so (I know you are about to start justifying your cheatings)?
Tehrani teachers and professors, do you allow your students to criticize you freely with no fear of grade?
Tehrani mothers and fathers, do you really treat your son and daughter the same? Do you teach your children dignity, compassion, and respect for all (equally)? Do you teach your children not to steal, cheat, or lie even if it will cost them dearly?
Tehrani middle-class workers, do you work efficiently and honestly at your office or do you waste your time reading newspapers and complaining about politics?
Tehrani Civil Engineers and contractors (real and fake), do you build with respect for the environment and the lives of others? Do you feel responsibility for your title as an engineer when you sign the design that you know has flaws? Do you feel responsibility when you knowingly bribe the city inspector to disregard your faults?
I am writing this, because I know that this is a special moment in our history. I am inspired by Tehran’s (and Iran’s) incredibly bold actions and am humbled, as I know that all these brave men and women are restless for improvement, though at the cost of their lives. At the same time, I feel that this moment is a great opportunity to self-reflect and start from within. We owe this to the next generation. No movement is successful when its elements are individually suffering from what they are moving against. Lying, cheating, hiding, and even killing humans and our environment start from each and every one of us. Our leaders are only reflecting our own image, and we are not liking it.