Faith is a beautiful thing. It gives people the strength to define themselves in whichever light they choose and a model towards which to shoot. Faith provides the image of something bigger than ourselves: something that we can look to in awe for inspiration and consolation in times of need.
But what happens to faith when it is forced upon you? In the Islamic Revolution, Iranians stood in mass solidarity against a sultanistic regime that had begun to fail economically, had cut back on subsidies to mosques, and had threatened the destruction of all the bazaars. From these actions, it is clear that it was in the mass interest to rebel. However, combined with the installation of Sharia Law after the collapse of the state, the revolution begs the question, at what point does communal belief shift from strengthening one’s faith to imposing on it? This fine line is one with which theocracy plays constantly. The inherent problem with a theocracy, therefore, is its imposition of a particular interpretation. One of the many beauties of faith and religion is that the believer can read the words and hear the stories, and walk away with his or her own interpretation to guide them through life. With a theocracy, they read the same words and hear the same stories. But it is someone else’s interpretation, so it becomes forced rather than liberating.
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Once I was a fish, free to roam the sea.
The Lord gave me light, so I went where I wished.
The world was my playground.
I explored, I smiled, I loved.
And every day I would look up to the surface and thank Him.
Those were the days of calmer waters.
Now, I ride the waves of revolution.
They tell me that God created the waves, so I embrace them.
I ride to unknown destinations but with a steadfast roadmap.
Faith is my rock, my direction, my hope.
Or so they tell me.
God will protect me, as he always has.
God will forgive me, but not the other.
I will do all I do for Him.
Or so they tell me.
The Lord is not the same as before.
His tongue I no longer can understand, but I convince myself that he speaks the same words.
The direction is shaded, but I convince myself that he leads me to paradise.
Because the current will swallow me if I abandon.
And so, I fade back into the crowd and chant the revolutionary verses.
Hoping, praying, needing Him to be what I thought him to be.
The Lord is no longer my shepherd. He is ours.