Ayatollah Khamenei’s quarrel with a Pahlavi MP

The nation that is lacking in self-confidence will always be waiting for others to provide it with its requirements. When you are waiting to be served a dish that has already been prepared, you will not attempt to prepare it yourself, nor will you learn to cook. This is one of the main dangers and a very obvious one at that. It is not a philosophically complex issue. But we sometimes tend to ignore this obvious point and this simple mechanism that contributes to the country’s staying backward.

I will never forget this memory: once I went to a friend’s house in Mashhad before the victory of the Islamic Revolution. As it happened, a member of the then Assembly Council – who was the representative of one of the towns in the northern part of the country – was also in Mashhad. He was there to pay a visit to our mutual friend. I happened to get the opportunity to talk to one of the parliamentary members for about an hour. I was young then and just as you say whatever you want, I also did not fully consider the consequences of what I did. I started to criticize the regime and let him know what I thought of it. He was a member of Shah’s Assembly Council and my remarks offended him. Therefore, he embarked on an argument with me. These were some of the things that I told him: “You have kept the country in a state of stagnancy. It is all imports and what others produce. Why don’t we ourselves do something?” The answer that he gave me was an interesting one and may help you to understand the mentality of the people in those days. He said, “So much the better, let the Europeans work for us as slaves and we will use the outcome of their efforts!” See how they sometimes manage to infuse this poison into the core of the nation’s being and its elites and make them talk like that.

When self-confidence is lacking, one remains in the state of waiting for assistance from the others. One sits in a corner like wretched and bedridden people and waits for somebody to pass by and spare a penny. The state of being self-sufficient works in the opposite direction which means that one does not wait for the others to fulfill one’s needs. When people do not wait for others’ assistance and think about fulfilling their own needs, they start tapping their talents – the hidden talents of a nation. When this happens and the hidden talents are utilized, they lead to achievements. That is the nature of things: one achievement leads to a set of other achievements. One accomplishment tends to bring about a set of other accomplishments.

Jan 3, 2008