Cairo and Tehran are so similar; people, food, always jammed traffic but most importantly the similarity lies in the way democracy is perceived in these two mega urban centres. In both cities, or I shall say countries. there are people who wouldn’t and there are those who would like to see a transition to democracy. This post is an exaggerated account of the story of those who are praying for a democratic state in these countries and how fathering our children could potentially reword these prayers.
Neither in Iran nor in Egypt, roughly speaking, democracy is perceived as a process that begins in homes, families and neighbourhoods; it is rather believed as a utopian gift the creator shall bestow upon people upon much cry and demand. It is imagined as a paradise of freedom and prosperity without crossing any comfort zone! It is almost a utopian religion – we are praying in hopes for it to be delivered in the most elegant and calmly wrapped paper cadeau, Insha’allah! And we are ready to sacrifice others, and sometimes ourselves,for a speedy delivery!
No! Democracy is a pain to be endured. It is all about power struggle to gain access to and control over limited resources. It is messy and ugly; for it does not and it cannot bring about the just and prosperous world to all beings, humans and non-humans. If in doubt come and see poverty in most democratic of cities within the Western world.
Democracy is negotiation, mediation, and conflict resolution even in the most seemingly peaceful times and zones. It is an acceptance of less, the other, and patient process. It is like managing an event with no authority over the resources you need to make it happen seamlessly.
Preparing for it simply requires acting in it. In Iran (or even Egypt) where our kids can’t practice democracy outside the homes, lets’ invite democracy into our homes. There are ample opportunities to get the kids ready. One, I suggest, is to involve them in the very business of household expenditure management whereby the family gathers to make decisions and allocate resources to what is agreed as priorities. This simply involves all the ingredients of a democratic struggle: people, power dynamics, difference of opinions, negotiations over agenda and priorities and finally agreeing the norms of collective decision-making. Some say budgeting is politics without the rhetoric, very tangible and concrete for the child to understand and learn, over time, to be working agents in our democracies yet to come, insha’allah!