* How do you feel when you meet the youth?


When I am accompanied by youth and when I am exposed to a youth environment, I feel the like one who is breathing...

* What is the first thing do you have to say to them?

When I am accompanied by youth and when I am exposed to a youth environment, I feel the like one who is breathing in the fresh morning air. I feel a freshness and vitality. The first thing that normally flashes into my mind that I have thought about a number of times, is that “do they (youth) know that a star is shining on their foreheads” I see this star, but do they see it too? The star of youth is very bright and full of good fortune. I think if the youth discover this valuable and unique asset in their lives, they will make use of it in the best way, God willing.

* How did you spend the period of your youth?

Indeed, the situation those times was different from that of today and it was very bad. The youth environment was not a desirable one, not only for me as a student of theology but for all the youth as well (I would like remark that I was student of theology simultaneous with my primary- school period). Attention was not paid to them. A lot of potential was destroyed and we witnessed this phenomenon with our own eyes. I even saw it in the of school theology as well as in the universities (because I had had contact with university students and I was very close to them for many years).

There were lots of shining potential, and there were also lots of people who probably did not possess enough ability for the courses in which they were studying but it is possible that they could have been masters in other fields but nobody were aware of them and nobody understood.

As “Mr. Mir Baqheri” pointed out, which he expressed correctly that before the revolution I had spent the entire period of my youth with them. When the revolution achieved victory I was about 39 years old, by then, I had spent most of my life from 17 or 18 to 39 with the youth, whether with students of theology and religion or with outside the field of theology. I felt that Muhammad Rida Pahlavy’s regime had done something that youths deviate toward decadence, toward moral decadence as well as decadence in their identity and in their very personality. Of course I can not claim that regime had deliberately planned to encourage our country’s youth toward lives of decadence, it may or may not be so, but what I can say with certainty is that they had planned and were running the country in such a way that it necessitated that one be totally distant from matters of politics and of life.

Would you believe me if I say that people like me, in their 20’s were not aware of who were the people in the ruling government? And nowadays, do you know anybody in this country who does not know who the education minister is? Or who is the minister of economy and finance? Or is there anybody who does not know the president (Muhammad Khatami)? Even people in the farthest reaches of the country are aware. In that era all layers of society –especially the youth were unconscious of political affairs. Youth were mostly occupied with daily affairs, and some of them had to work very hard just to get a piece of bread to eat; of course a part of their earning was not only spent on eating they were spending it on other things as well.

If you study the books at that period on Latin America and Africa- “frantz Fanon” and others who were writing books at that time which have remained in vogue up till today because of their own validity -you will find out that our situation was exactly the same. No one dared to write about Iran, but one could easily write, for instance on Africa, or Mexico or Chile. Reading these books, I found out that our situation actually is the same as those countries.

I mean, that young worker who after working very hard just to earn some pennies, would spend half of his pay on sensuality, pleasure seeking and things such as these. These were the same things that we read about in those books and we saw that in reality the same conditions prevailed in our society. It was truly very bad. Youth environment was not a good environment. Of course within their hearts it was different; because fundamentally the young is full of joy, hope, excitement and so forth.

I myself, personally had a very exciting youth, both before the outbreak of the revolution my literary and artistic activities gave some excitement in my life. And also after the outbreak of the struggle in 1341 -at that time I was 23 years old- naturally we found ourselves at heart of the basic excitement of the country, I was imprisoned twice in 1342,- detention, investigation –you know how all this can excite a person. Afterwards, being released, a person would feed even more excited on seeing huge masses of people interested in such things, and being a witness to a leader like Imam Khomeini guiding them and correcting their actions and thoughts, the excitement increased even more. This is how life was for people like me who were living and thinking in this category it was extremely exciting, but it was not so for everybody.

Of course, youth naturally gather together because it gladdens their hearts.- I mean there is a kind of happiness in their nature. They enjoy eating and speaking, looking in the mirror, and they enjoy holidays. You (youths) will not believe that, when a person had passed his youth he will not enjoy, for example, delicious food as much as you do. At that time, sometimes our elders -who were at the same age as I am now- said some things that made us astonished, we asked ourselves, why did they think like that? Now I understand that those poor people were not too wrong. Of course I have not separated myself totally from youth and even now I feel something of the youth within myself which I will not let myself lose.

But those who were subject to old age, as a matter of course did not feel the enjoyment that a youth feels in all aspects of his \ her life. It was like this at that time. I do not claim that an atmosphere of grief dominated, but there was an atmosphere of negligence and of unawareness and of a lack of identity.

That is why we, who were thinking seriously and deeply in affairs of struggle, put our efforts (extricate the) youth as far as possible out of the circle of the cultural influence of the regime. For instance, I myself used to go to the mosque to teach tafsir, preach to the people after prayers and at times I would go to other cities and give lectures. The main point of my attention was to take youths out of cultural noose of the regime. I considered it an “invisible noose”. I said “there is an invisible noose which is taking all of the people in a particular direction” and I would have to tear this lasso away and release the youth as far as possible.

Whoever got rid of that mental noose –which first of all required piety and secondly conversion toward Imam Khomeini’s thoughts- would become sort of immune. It was like this in those days. This very generation got the basic fundamentals of the revolution. Now, when I look at our society I can identify many of those individuals, whether they were related to me or not.

At any rate you are in a better period now, the atmosphere is better. Of course I do not say that our youth are provided with everything and that everything is running as it should, but in comparison to that time, today’s situation is better. In my opinion a youth can afford a good life today and find his or her human identity and personality if he or she wants.


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