September 20, 2014: On June 20, 2009, people around the world watched one young woman die in the streets of Tehran in the midst of a revolution. Her name was Neda Agha Soltan. Her story is here. Time described her killing as “probably the most widely witnessed death in human history.” Neda’s dying breath still resonates in the hearts and minds of millions of Iranians.
During the summer of 2009, when Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, she and I made a trio of videos. I asked her what she would say to the government of Iran, what she thought of a government that would torture its own people and what she would say to a victim of torture. Despite living with dementia, she was focused, articulate and spot on in her responses. Here’s how she answered the first question:
She had no problem discerning right from wrong, and she was crystal clear about what people must do to make positive change. In one of the blog posts that accompanied the videos I wrote:
“She knows it takes strength and conviction to stand up and fight for what you believe in. It may even take a revolution. But in the end, if you have enough determination, you will prevail.”
Five years ago today, on September 20, 2009, Mom and I tied green ribbons around our wrists because we both believe people should live together in peace and harmony. Somebody took the picture above. At the time, there was a tentative peace between me and my only other sibling. Now there is nothing but ongoing war.
Ironically, our family has been torn apart over the issue of my mother’s care, and sadly, our situation is not unique. I am fiercely determined and have no doubt in my ability to create change, but I fear it will be too late for my Mom. My hope is others will benefit from the sharing of our experience, the fruits of my ongoing advocacy and the echo of my mother’s voice long after she’s gone.
There is a reason for everything. There is purpose in the telling of this story. I hope it touches and inspires you and many others.
September 20, 2014