A Death Seen Round The World
The burst of gunfire that shattered the air and a fallen victim. An assassination that could spell turbulence for Western, as well as Islamic, nations. The shot, witnessed the world over, did not hit a sitting US President, a world leader, or a prominent rebel leader. Rather, it hit a young, twenty-six year old woman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whether the shot was deliberate, fired by a sniper, or an accident, nobody knows. Unconfirmed news out of Iran states that it was intentional, fired from a rooftop. It ended her life in forty seconds. Such an event that creates martyrs.
She wasn’t a combatant. She wasn’t a leader. She wasn’t protesting, rioting, or rallying. She “simply was”…which is worlds away from “simply is.” A young woman that died with fear in her eyes, she bled to death from a bullet to her chest. Her final moments were unfathomable, as blood spewed from her mouth, and those aiding her felt her life slip away. She simply died.
Did she have time to make peace with God? Did she have time to figure out what had happened to her? Did she feel terrible pain? That fateful morning, did she say goodbye to her mother, her relatives, her friends? Probably not. She was a nobody…and nobodies get killed everyday. And yet, she was also everybody…her death witnessed by millions; she’s become a single point of clarity, as well as solidarity, a rallying cry. Many know her by name: Neda Agha-Soltan. Much of the English speaking world refers to her simply as “Neda.”
Weeks ago, had Iran been wiped off the map, I wouldn’t have cared…well, that’s no entirely true. It’s simply that my view of Iran, then, and my view, now, has changed. Before Neda, Iran was a terrorist nation, full of extremists that wanted to kill Americans. While no doubt this is still true, the people of Iran have been made “human,” full of fault, love, sorrow, and happiness. I can’t get her image from my head, her eyes, seeming to look right into my soul. Even now it’s her eyes; dread unfolds in the pit of my stomach, and I can’t keep from thinking that something terribly wrong is unfolding.
I started writing this series for two reasons: The first being that I saw the video of Neda’s death and was profoundly impacted. The second was the realization that, in regard to Iran, my perceptions were formed by sound bytes.