Of Iran... I have a pretty basic theory about the way at least half the people live anywhere. I tend to assume, before learning anything else about them, that the majority of a people are going to be preoccupied with acquiring food, water, shelter, safety, and (peripherally) amusement...the little things that keep body and soul together, in other words. I don't think of this as a negative thing; I think of it as necessary for survival and sanity in most cases. I suppose that makes me something of a Maslowian. What I knew about Iran in particular? I knew their politics were isolationist and I assumed the government to be theocratic. I'd heard of the "Iran Hostage Crisis" growing up, but I wasn't old enough when it happened to remember anything firsthand. I knew from my history textbooks that Persia had some of the most sophisticated mathematical models in the world; I had a vague impression that the Iranians were well-educated, at least. (As fate would have it, several of my college professors were from Iran, though I didn't place their names and accents until I thought about the protest movement recently.) I knew from my amateur studies of folklore and mythology that Persia also had some of the most detailed and intricate artwork and enduring archetypal characters anywhere in the world. I had a vague impression that modern Iranians were well-mannered and probably put a great deal of emphasis on personal decorum, but that may have been some sort of propaganda the sensationalist media fed me. What have I learned? That I was right about most of the things I mentioned, if it doesn't sound too smug of me to say that. As I suspected when I heard the infamous "Axis of Evil" speech, the Iranian government doesn't actually represent the sentiment of its people at all. (Now, that makes me wonder how I should feel about the people in North Korea and Venezuela...) I was wrong about one key point, though: the Iranians are more than willing to put themselves in harm's way for a high-minded goal, possibly moreso than other places in the world. That actually challenges my most basic supposition: the people in Iran may adhere to ideals over the banal daily needs that absorb most people. I find that to be commendable, something people everywhere should take to heart. What the Iranians have taught me the most about, though, is myself. I now wonder every time I think of the Sea of Green if I would be brave enough to join in such a demonstration if it were necessary or justified in my home country. I'm ashamed to say that I don't have an answer to that question. But maybe, just maybe, not having an answer is better than being sure. If it comes to that, I'll have to prove to myself that I could.