By David Hartsough — in Iran — November 10, 2010
At Persepolis we had several unusual and very significant conversations.
We met the Ambassador from the Netherlands. He said he was very happy to see our American delegation here in Iran trying to help build some peace and understanding between our countries. He said he felt that what is crucial in helping find a solution to the “Iran conflict” is pretty simple. What the Iranian people and the Iranian government are asking for is respect and to be treated fairly and justly. They have an amazing history and culture and we need to treat them as we – any country – would want to be treated.
We encountered about 35 Iranian soldiers in uniform. Accompanying them was an Imam with a white turban. We told him about our belief that all religions have as their basic beliefs and teachings to Love One Another and we are all children of one God. He agreed that love for one another is the essence of all religions, but that we cannot rely on God to bring about a just and peaceful society. We must be God’s instruments to help bring about a more peaceful and just society and referred us to the text in the Koran which says just that.
A while later we talked with the Colonel in charge of the group of Revolutionary Guard soldiers. We were able to say to him and all the soldiers gathered around that our FOR delegation had come to Iran to express our deep desire for peace with the Iranian people. Even if our governments see each other as enemies, we the American and Iranian people could become friends and create peace from the bottom up. We stated that to kill the beautiful Iranian people would be a crime against God and a crime against humanity. We are dedicated to doing everything in our power to help transform the relationship between our countries from enmity and hostility to peace and mutual respect. The Imam and many of the soldiers stood there silently giving their appreciation and respect for our sentiments.
The colonel then responded that he appreciated all we had said and also fervently hoped that our nations could move away from confrontation and hostility to a peaceful and cooperative relationship with mutual respect. He stated that they never think of attacking other countries, and added that he hoped we would understand that they as soldiers are committed to defend their country. If Iran were attacked by the US, Israel, or any other country, they would do everything in their power to protect their country and the Iranian people from aggression. He hoped that day never comes, but said that they must be prepared.
The Colonel and the Imam and many of the soldiers then gave me and others in our delegation very warm and heartfelt handshakes and expressed deep appreciation for our visit.
We left hoping that with encounters like this and our work back in the US for peace and diplomacy rather than confrontation and war with Iran, we can avoid ever having to confront one another on the battlefield and the horrible consequences of war between our countries.