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Religion, Thought and Reformation

An interview with Dr. Abdolkarim Soroush
Source: Jameh Madani

(Abridged) 3/7/01

Q: Please tell us about the American intellectual and cultural air in relation to the new transformations and problems taking place in Iran and what is Americans' reaction to these transformations.

A: This is a very vast question and not all its different aspects are within my competence. A part of it goes back to the political relations of the two countries that to me has changed into a 'taboo' and at the moment nobody dares to say anything different from the existing official views on the subject. Unfortunately it is not possible to discuss this important problem openly and those who did dare and expressed their different views were seriously punished for it. Accidentally, I like to use this point and say that one of the fundamental differences between the general air in America and Iran is that there they can even discuss the 'taboos'. It means that not only can you discuss American political policy toward Iran, but also toward Palestine, Israel and any other places. You have the opportunity to express whatever views you may have on the subject and listen to others' views.

Once I went to listen to Chomsky's speech at MIT university. Chomsky teaches at MIT and is one of the famous and prestigious critics of American government and its foreign policy. Chomsky was taking about the relationship between America and Israel and without having any access to classified information he presented very distinct facts that he had taken out of ordinary newspapers. He just used ordinary news published in ordinary newspapers that ordinary readers usually ignore. For example, Chomsky talked about the present war between Israel and Palestine and the cruel manslaughter going on there. The war that so far has left 300 people dead with only %10 of them being Israelis. 90 percent of them were innocent Palestinians. Despite condemning this cruel manslaughter and crime and all the regret that American politicians express, they are still selling their cannon carrying helicopters to Israel and it is these very helicopters that are pouring their cannons on innocent Palestinians. In his speech Chomsky repeated several times that 'I say Israel means America and Israel is nothing except the American hand that sticks out of the sleeve of power and cruelty in the Middle Eeast, pouring down fire and gun powder on Palestinian people.'

I mean that there in America you can hear these sorts of things too and this is a very important point. People are aware of the official positions of their Government, but unofficial and anti-government views are also allowed to be expressed and published. The least is that the small communities that think differently can express their views and so that in this way these views find a chance to be discussed and criticized. However, what we see among ourselves, whether in relation to friends or enemies is unfortunately quite different. There are powerful taboos and redlines that nobody, whether lay or learned is not allowed to cross. That is why problems remain hidden and unsolved and that is harmful for the country, nation and the future. As though the rulers are sure that they can very well do without the intellectual participation of the people and the servants of the country (ro-aya).

But regarding the Iranian community living abroad I would like to refer to an important fact.

When Mr. Khatami was elected, the political organizations outside the country indeed faced a crisis of identity. Not only was I personally witnessing this crisis, but also heard about it. They were asking themselves, 'who are we and what are we doing and what sort of message can we have for the people that could be more important than the one that arises genuinely and spontaneously out of people themselves? What sort of message can we have that the people themselves are not aware of and do not express and enact it?' Some of them decided to return. Some were seriously criticized by their associates. In short, there arose a great conflict between them and there is nothing secret about it. That is this is not a point that only I gathered, but it was disclosed, published and discussed widely by Iranians abroad.

To be fair, the movement that Iranian people initiated and the election that took place, had a great worldwide influence including on the organizations found outside the country. But unfortunately due to the negative and adverse events that took place here during the past few months, those organizations were once again revived and felt that they have regained the necessary suitable position outside the country. The main reason is the general obstruction we are witnessing inside the country now. Whenever there is an obstruction here, those living abroad feel revived and whenever there is a promotion here, they are more prepared to return, to server the country, to melt the ices and to forget the past. Let us not forget that all those living outside are not inimical to Islamic Republic and not all of them carry arms.

Most of them are people who were forced to immigrate due to certain limitations and mistreatments. Among these people are geniuses that can serve the country. We should know that depriving ourselves from these kinds of people is depriving the country from faithful servants.

Q: Considering the fact that you were appointed by Imam Khomeini to serve in the Cultural Revolutionary Council how do you evaluate the cultural situation then compared to the present situation?

A: There is a great fundamental difference between the cultural air of those days and today. In those days, the cultural air was just finding its proper shape and was quite fluid, but today it has found a solid shape and is under the influence of politics and is suffering from a worrisome petrifaction. This is the most important difference, but there are other differences too.

One is that at that time, those organizing the cultural criteria of the country were ready to be criticized and felt responsible toward people particularly the students and men of action. However today, many elements of the cultural revolutionary council are not very well known to people. Some of them intimidate people on the collective Friday prayers and issue the verdict of atheism. And nobody dares to confront them. To me the cultural revolutionary council is now just an ornament and to me its presence plays no role what so ever. This is what I can definitely say about it and am ready to pay for the consequences.

Not only the cultural revolutionary council, but also the academy of sciences and academy of language and literature and the academy of arts and academy of medical science, are nothing more than an ornament.

I was myself a member of the academy of science until they expelled me. For the same reasons that I was expelled from other places. So what I am saying is what I personally experienced. They are nothing more than an ornament.

At that time it was not easy to act despotically. At that time it was no advantage and merit to be a member of a council, it would not bring the member any power and position. It was regarded as a mere duty. I was happy that I was appointed by Imam, that is by a unique unprecedented leader who put me who has always been looking for opportunities to serve my people in that position. And I did my best to serve. Now I am really sorry for the present decorative characteristic of the cultural revolutionary council. I am very sorry about what they have done to the universities. Do you ever hear a word from this council? They do almost nothing for the universities and the students, as it is the ministry of science that now carries out this duty. I know that the members of this council do not spend a minute of their time on the responsibilities of the council. They just participate in the sessions and say whatever that comes to their mind. Some of them are the same people who make political red lines and donate and deprive rights. From the time that they started their activities against me in the university, I have been observing how the members act and how irresponsibly they talk about the events taking place in the universities. What sort of positions they had in relation to what happened in the university campus in summer 99 and in relation to what they did to students' organizations including Tahkim Vahdat. You don't hear a word from the cultural revolutionary council and that is why it has merely a decorative function now.

Q: This is while we are witnessing so much apprehensions being expressed about the cultural state of the country. What do you think is the reason of the present cultural state of the country?

A: The culture of the country is intensely politicized now. All the affairs of the country are politicized and the culture is suffering from this plague perhaps more. I consider this as a mortal poison for the culture and the universities of the country. It is now a long time that I have reached this painful truth and no doubt that I have been trying to do something about it as much as possible. But the problem is much graver and more awesome to be solved by one or two people. The ruling system should be aware of this fact. It is not possible to tell a thinker where the ceiling of thought is. Politics can not determine what culture should be. If such an idea pervades, if the answers to the questions are known beforehand, it would imply the death of culture. If you ask about religion, they would say that the answers are all known and are in the hand of this or that personality. If anybody utters something beyond those answers, his place would be in the graveyard. If you pose a question in regard to the country's relationship with America, a question whose answer is already known and you dare to go beyond that, you will be prosecuted. If you talk about science and progress, here too the answer is already known and it is the kind of progress that certain gentlemen have prescribed and have determined to be the best for the country.

Pre-availability and conceivability of answers is the same as the death of the questions and death of the questions is the very death of culture. When culture is politicized, it implies that the politicians have answered the cultural questions beforehand and others have no rights to discuss them further. You can see that on television, debates can not go beyond a certain point, the same is true about the newspapers. Individuals are not allowed to offer any answers that might not be in the same line as the official answers. These are the sort of harms that our culture is suffering from and impede cultural growth and prosperity. To me this is our most fundamental problem and in order to solve it competent, mindful professionals should replace eulogists, conservatives and demagogues.

Selections should overrun appointments. Fair freedom and free justice should dominate. What we lack in our country is bravery and we have paid a high price for that. We are all suffering from censorship. And these censures are imposed on us both from outside and from within and have changed people into some dwarfs. This is the problem we are facing in the sphere of culture. I wished we could discuss these things freely. Perhaps you could not imagine how immense is the grace of freedom and how well can think a person who finds himself free and how well can he create under such a state of being.

Q: At the beginning of the Islamic Revolution used to teach Molavi's Masnavi on TV. But then they stopped broadcasting your lessons and Imam sent this message that I personally approve of Molavi, but there are certain people who do not approve of him.' Would you explain what actually happened then?

A: I am like that dervish that when they asked him 'what sort of worldly possessions do you have, he answered, 'my appetite.' Like him my only worldly possession is my appetite for teaching and debating, but at present I don't have the opportunity and as Hafez says, 'the rival commanded torments and left no place for conciliation - Would the sigh of early risers not reach the firmament.'

If we fail to do something with the help of nature we will make use of metaphysics and if these gentlemen send men's physical bodies to prison, they can not imprison metaphysical forces. Ultimately we will do something. Once again according to Hafez, 'Do not struggle with the night prayer of night risers you the sugared mouth - Under the protection of a name is Solomon's signet.

However, the story was that I was performing TV programs on Molana and the number of these programs was supposed to reach 40. 20 of them were recorded, but they stopped broadcasting them after the thirteenth program. I had just heard that Imam had ordered that. But I was quite bewildered too, as the father of Imam's wife, Ayatolah Saghfi quoting Imam had told me, 'Masnavi is the commentary of Mola Jalal.' Imam used this interpretation in the presence of ordinary people.

In any case, after a few days, Mr. Khameneii who was the President at that time, called me and said I am just coming back from Imam's house and Imam referred to a few points that I like to tell you before I forget. I should say that I had complained to Mr. Khameneii before and I had told him that I am one of the members of the cultural revolutionary council and despite that they have stopped to show my TV programs and this will leave people puzzled. Mr. Khameneii approved of what I had said and emphasized that 'yes, this may appear problematic and puzzling.' So he had spoken to Imam. This is apparently what Imam had told Mr. Khameneii: 'you know that personally, not only I am not against Masnavi, but I very much believe in it. I have nothing against this program. However, I have received many notes of objections from all over the country, but I did not pay much attention to them, until recently that I received a scroll (toumar) of signatures prepared in one of the cities. Some of the ecclesiastic had signed it too.' And Imam had told Mr. Khameneii that 'I am worried about his life. He should work and serve this country for a long time and a part of the ecclesiastic will not allow him. Therefore, I came to the conclusion to interrupt Masnavi's programs.' This was the story that Mr. Khameneii recounted.

Q: Parts of the book 'Society and History' by Mr. Mesbah Yazdi are in fact quotations adopted from your writings without mentioning your name. Would you explain the matter further?

A: yes, there is nothing obscure about it. A few years ago, Mr. Mesbah Yazdi published Society and History that included pieces that were taken from my books. He had used these parts without even mentioning the sources. Even later he was not ready to confess that he did make this mistake. His book is available so are my writings and the readers can compare them and see for themselves. When Society and History was published, Javad Zarandi wrote an article that was published in Cultural Keyhan. In this article, the author had enumerated numerous cases of adoption and quotations. The amazing thing is that meanwhile instead of apologizing and confessing, one of the pupils of Mr. Mesbah Yazdi wrote an article in Keyhan and said: 'by saying such things, they intend to soil this divine man.'

Another strange thing is that recently there was this news about an impending debate between me and Mesbah and certain eulogists wrote that I had been Mesbah's pupil.

Q: There was an article published in Feizieh Journal and certain other magazines quoting Mr. Mesbah that 'I (meaning Mesbah Yazdi) am aware of his (meaning Soroush's) secret and as he knows that I know, he refuses to participate in a debate with me.

A: First of all if he knows any secret, he should definitely disclose it. Secondly, why doesn't he really disclose this secret? Isn't Mr. Mesbah worried for Islam? Doesn't he believe that I am harmful for Islam? I have repeatedly announced and I am announcing again that I am quite ready to participate in a debate with Mr. Mesbah and I am waiting for Mr. Mesbah to agree with certain conditions. If not, I will not participate in any debate with him. And the conditions are quite simple, he should present his views in a written form to the society, in the same way that I have, so that during the discussion, it would be possible to refer to them as an evidence. Otherwise, I will never participate in any debate with anybody, as the whole thing would be on air in this way.

Q: What is the message of religion for the contemporary man? How is it that modern societies possessing a democratic system can respond to their civilians' expectations, while in our society some of our young people are now in complete despair?

A: In our country something has happened that I warned against its happening some 15 years ago and that is: a part of religion and Islam is now ruling that is known as 'juridical Islam' (eslam feghahati). And the reason is that the clergy seized the power and the greatest capital of the clergy is religious jurisprudence (Fegh-h). Their understanding of religion is mainly a juridical understanding. While the most significant message of religion is not this as the religious jurisprudence consists of practical, individual and social laws and regulations and the new world is considered as its serious rival in enactment of social laws and regulations. In other words, it is not possible to prove by rational reasoning that the social religious regulations are better than those of the new world and vice versa. For example, it is not possible to prove that the laws and regulations dealing with rent and mortgage now practiced in non-religious laic countries have less advantages and their effects are far less than the corresponding laws and regulations found in Islamic jurisprudence and so on. In this context, religion has neither a significant message for the contemporary man nor is it possible to prove its rational superiority.

To me, with its emphasis on religious jurisprudence and ecclesiasticism, Islamic Republic has produced a great gap between itself and the modern world and has made it very difficult to incorporate itself in the modern world. If our religious ecclesiastic transform to mystics and moral scientists, they can then have better, more beneficial and more lasting messages for the contemporary world and contemporary Iranian society.

In the contemporary world, religion has two important functions, one is facilitation of inner experience and the other is facilitation of moral experience. If religion does play these two important roles, that is if it acts as a moral support for religious, spiritual, mystical and theistic experiences, then it has played its advantageous role and it will conquer the hearts. To start with religious jurisprudence and social regulations and legal restrictions, it is exactly like playing the horn from its wider end and this is what has happened in our society. The Prophet as the history shows, started with inner experience and then waved a garment of morality around it and finally he waved a garment of religious jurisprudence around that morality. Therefore, the religious jurisprudence is the outermost, the most phenomenal, the most unstable, the most susceptible and changeable and superficial part of religion and perhaps it is its most solemn face. The more joyous, more human, more lasting and more profound and penetrating faces of religion are those moral and mystical faces. Unfortunately, it is these very faces that have been suffocated and oppressed in Islamic Republic. Before the revolution when all the religious leaders of the country invited people to join Islam and Islamic revolution, they leaned on the inner and moral faces of religion. Nobody every said that tomorrow if there is a voice of objection we will immediately issue the verdict of atheism and cut that throat. Neither did anybody introduce such solemn face of Islam and even if anybody did, his speech and statements failed to be effective.

Q: One of the present problems of religious societies is the question of secularism and the decline of religious power and the fact that religion should not interfere with profane affairs, politics and government. What is your view on this subject?

A: I have explained this question in my writings in this way that in a sense religion and politics are two separate categories and in a sense they are not. Religion and politics are two different things in the sense that nobody can claim any special political advantage or right due to his successful religious esteem. Nobody can say that my religious position, my religious juridical situation, my religious faith bestows me a special right in power and politics while others are deprived of this right. Religion is a cultural element and can announce its presence in the society and it rules according to the strength and the power it possesses. The carriers of religious sciences have the right to participate in social and political affairs and enjoy this right according to their intellectual power and the social and political weight that the people endow them and not more. In this sense religion and politics are separate. It means that the religious faith and values of people affect politics in a natural way and not by some sort of order and force, in the same way that their non-religious beliefs exert an effect. A laic society would make its government laic. A religious society will not surrender to a laic government and will make it religious. A religious government does not imply that religion bestows special rights to certain individuals, but it means that it forces the rulers to respect religious values of the community and would not allow them to move in a direction opposite to it. For example, at present American government is intensely under the influence of the church. The church has significant political influence, although it is clearly stated in American Constitutional Law that politics and religion are two separate categories and they have even used the term 'the wall between politics and religion.' However as religion is powerful, it exerts its effects in a way that even on American dollars, it is written 'in God we trust'. You can not find such a statement on our country's bills. The reason is that there in America, religion is so powerful that around %70-80 of people attend the church. This number is much greater than that found in Europe and it is through these very religious beliefs that they control their government.

If American rulers assert irreligious statements openly, people will resent them, therefore when they don't have any powerful religious beliefs, they pretend to be faithful. We should not mix American foreign policy with the religiosity of American people.

In our country Shiite faith of people forces the rulers to respect people's religious faith and values. In Turkey if a democratic government takes over the power, the religious faith and values of people who are largely Sunni will force the rulers to respect Sunni faith and values, the same is true about a Christian society. That is what I mean by saying that in a sense politics and religion are not two separate things and they hold hands. In a message to Malek Shah Seljuki, Khajeh Nazamolmolk has said, 'that crown is dependent on this dastar (turban)' and if they take away this turban from my head they will take away your crown too.

It is the same in the new world. To me the past and previous decree has not changed and is the same from this angle.

Q: What are the most important views of religious intellectuals in relation to secularization? What parts of religious functions do they take into consideration and which parts do they criticize?

A: First of all, not all religious intellectuals think about secularization. Before Islamic Revolution, the religious intellectuals thought about secularism in the way that they tried to prove that religion is useful for secular affairs. They wanted to prove that it is possible to initiate a revolution with religion and religious rationalism. It is possible to overthrow a regime and replace it by another regime. It is possible to attain worldly progress with the help of religion. It is possible to build an affluent society enjoying high technology and economics. However, at present a part of religious intellectuals do not think in this way anymore, and they contemplate more upon a minimum religion rather than a maximum one. I am one of those who believe that essentially religious orientation aims at eternal bliss and profane bliss is just considered as a secondary and subordinate matter in religious system and not as a genuine fact with a subject matter. However such a view needs a lot of discussion and elaboration. I believe that religion can remove the profane impediments in reaching eternal bliss. It does not directly and independently plan for worldly development and construction. In other words, to me religion can help us in those spheres where the profane can make problems and where attachment to the world impedes attainment of eternal bliss. If we had no afterlife, there would be no need for religion. In other words, if the God who created us, had not created us as eternal creatures and our enjoyment of survival were only limited to the worldly survival and there were no afterlife, God would not send any prophet or religion for us. The most significant message of the prophets has been to make us aware of our afterlife and to make preparations and plans for the world after from this world. If we accept that this is the real order and logic of religion, that is if we admit that we are in this world only for 60-70 years out of an eternity- which is nothing in respect to infinity - then it would have been very strange that religions would emerge only to pay attention to this zero part and consider the rest as a secondary and subordinate fact. It is logical and rational to base its invitation on the bliss related to that infinite part and leave this small zero part to mankind and the most that it would do here is to prevent the impediments present in his path to eternal bliss. I think any fair devotional and religion-oriented study would clearly show the above point. It is quite obvious that religion does not bring about technology and urbanism and it does not advise its devotees to conquer Nature. Bliss from the point of view of religion is not the act of conquering a larger volume of the natural forces by individuals. This is the kind of work that the tribe's wise men have done and it is permissible as much it does not oppose religious right and wrong and the required planning here is left to people. The religious jurisprudents and sages have brought for people no roads, no telephone and no aircraft. Our prophet did not bring these sorts of things for people either and this is not of course a defect of religion, as this is not the main message of religion. These are the kind of affairs left to people themselves. The people of the fourth century were religious so were the people of the tenth century or twentieth century and they should be religious in the hundredth century too. That is why religiosity should be defined in such way as to agree with various ways of life. As I said before, more than wishing to work on social regulations or economic, social and political planning, religion should try to influence morality and religious experiences.

Q: What is the difference between traditional and modern religion? Is it possible to return to the traditional religion and modernize it?

A: We should first ask what do we mean by devotion and what type of devotion. There are three kinds of religiousness that are: subsistence-oriented devotion (ma-ieshat andish), knowledge-oriented (ma-refat andish) and experience-oriented (tajrobat andish) devotion. Therefore when you ask about the difference between traditional and modern religion, we should discuss this difference for all the above layers.

In the subsistence-oriented religion that is essentially jurisprudential (fegh-hi) devotion, the difference between traditional and modern religion mainly shows itself through religious jurisprudence (ejtehad) and religious decrees (fatva). The new world challenges the religious jurisprudent with problems that could not be found in the past. Therefore, the religious jurisprudent belonging to jurisprudential subsistence-oriented devotion that is the same as the mythological devotion based on imitation finds himself facing new questions related to subsistence for which he has to find answers. For example, if we travel to geographical poles, how should we carry out our daily pray (namaz)? If we go to Moon or Mars what happens to our prayer, fasting, ablution etc? What about the medical surgeries, when they cut an organ or transplant it? What about the new drugs such as alcohol, is it religiously clean or not? These are the types of questions that the new subsistence-oriented religiousness poses for the religious jurisprudents that did not exist in the past.

But the knowledge-oriented religiousness is now facing the hardest types of problems in the new world and this is the fact that once again I like to complain that in our country it is this layer of religion that they do not allow to prosper and grow. Religion does not only face scientific questions nor is it fed by scientific facts, but it faces and feeds on theoretical problems too and the latter is far more important than the former. Today the knowledge-oriented devotion is challenged most. I am surprised that when individuals such as Mr. Motahari wanted to prove the finality of religion, they tried hard to show that religious jurisprudence can answer all new scientific questions. Even here there are several points that I have discussed in my book Expansion of Prophetic Experience. Now even if we take all their views as correct, and that is something that can never be proved outside the framework of religion, even if we do succeed to prove that our religious jurisprudence is so rich and affluent that it can answer any new question that might arise to the end of the world, we still can not say that this proves that our jurisprudence is final. For finality of religion should be proved on the theoretical scene too. In other words, we should explain and prove that religion has an answer for any new theoretical problem too. Religion jurisprudence can only deal with legal discussions. But are all problems of human society legal problems? We have hundreds problems that are not legal and have an intellectual, philosophical, and theoretical nature. Can religion offer the best answer for these problems too?

In the past such as during the era that Mola Sadra, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ghazali, and similar people lived knowledge-oriented devotion was facing a series of theoretical problems or a series of doubts (shobahat), but today it is facing another series of theoretical problems. These are of two kinds. One group of these theoretical problems intends to overthrow religion and the other group is impartial toward religion, but the believers may make theoretical use of these problems in order to expand religious sciences in this way. One of the most difficult and most important problems of our own society is that we are not very familiar with theoretical problems. That is why certain people confront the carriers of new knowledge so nervously and say that the best religious intellectual is the one who doesn't exist.

On the other hand, experience-oriented devotion is facing its own kind of challenges. It is a kind of devotion that in a sense is sacred and it is based on inner experiences of experimentalists. In the new world, this kind of devotion is facing unprecedented problems because the present world is devoid of myths. In the past mysteries were found everywhere and although people were living in the microcosm, but they considered themselves to belong to macrocosm. In the new world, although macrocosm is not totally denied, but it has been ignored. In other words, we don't see people talking about it anymore. Therefore we are the inhabitants of microcosm. Religious experiences occur in the heart of macrocosm and their occurrence is facilitated there. In the new world, religious experiments are rare. That is why experience-oriented devotion in the demystified world is facing obstacles and limitations not found in the past. In the past experimentalists and mystics easily roamed like fish in water and felt alive. At present the experimentalists are like strangers in this world, like the fish that have fallen out of water. Therefore, the experience-oriented devotion would be facing problem and slowness unless a new spiritual air and a world equal and similar to the macrocosm of the past are created.

Q: Myth-making has a special place in our religion and society. What can be its consequences and what sort of definition can religious intellectualism have for the positive or negative role of myths in Iranian history?

A: Myths are powerful, solid and valuable parts of cultures and without them cultures lack richness and life. Myths are either religious or non-religious, but when we look at the depth of the latter, we find a strong religious feature in them. Myths are symbolic representation of human conditions in the world. They are symbolic ideals of human relationships with nature. If you consider the wars between gods in ancient Greece, or our religious myth of Satan refusing to prostrate in front of Adam and Adam's expulsion from the Garden of Eden and his fall on Earth, you will find hundreds meanings in them that transform them into an inexhaustible source. If you remove these myths, the religious ideas and even national cultures will become very poor and inefficient. Therefore, the myths have not emerged by some order and they will not disappear by some order and they point to an underground layer of the life of people. They will stay alive, beneficial and inspiring as longs as peoples are alive. However, we have both religious and national myths of our own. They can compose various stories about life, death, defeat, victory, bliss and cruelty for us to the end of time and by leaning on a series of sagacious views they can make our future clearer and more acceptable.

Q: What is the difference between mythology and heroizing and hero seeking that is considered as a plague for our society?

A: Yes, this is another story. First of all, heroes arise from the soil of nations and cultures. Herorizing is one thing and the emergence of heroes is another. Sometimes an individual transforms to a hero due to his characteristics and the historical environment and situation and he is looked at as a selected special and exceptional element and becomes the source of inspiration. To this extent it is something natural and unavoidable. However, in the eras when individuality was powerful, there were more heroes and today that collective democratic life dominates, the weight of personalities has decreased because democratic theories essentially tend to lower the weight of personalities and let the collective reason decide for the affairs of men.

On one hand, heroes are inspiring and other hand they can act as a wall or shadow to some extend and in this way they do not allow individuals to see the light of the sun and attain sufficient growth, prosperity and self-actualization. In any case, the emergence of heroes is not under the command of anybody. However, there is an important point here and that is when in a society, progress demands the sacrifice of individuals and heroes, there should be something wrong with that society and it should be considered unhealthy and sick.

Let us not forget that some individuals change into heroes after being sacrificed. In other words, sometimes it is the peculiar characteristics of the individual that is manifested in devotion and sacrifice and once he is sacrificed he assumes a heroic face.

A society that needs heroes and a great deal of sacrifice, it is definitely full of defects and plagues. The best society is one where first of all goodness dominates evil, not that evil has completely disappeared as this is something impossible. Secondly, in such a society progress would not need an immense amount of sacrifice and heroism. In other words, people succeed to attain their goals by their normal ordinary activities. Great sacrifice is related to exceptional periods and if it continues it implies the presence of a great fundamental defect in the society.

-- Translated for payvand.com by Roya Monajem, royamonajem@yahoo.com



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