Stalking Vol 2: The Bridge of Reason
"Working there wasn't too bad." I chuckled at an event that could have been tougher on us,
but it had worked out.
"Again, the fear I’m talking about isn’t the gripping, crisp kind that comes with overt
events. I’m talking about the insidious manifestations in everyday life that prepare us to react to
specific stimuli in directed ways. Tell me about working there."
Leaving nothing out, because I was missing her point, I told her that I had arrived in Iran on
day eight of the hostage crisis and experienced what was to me an unbelievable zealousness over
heaven and hell. That I did not understand the basis of this enthusiasm, and the Iranians could
not imagine how I could be so unconcerned with such issues, was a constant problem: countless
citizens solicited our opinions on the situation, to which I explained that I was covering a story,
no more or less. Typically, they also asked me if my work was my purpose in life, or did I serve
my God through my work. Their expressions implied that if I did serve a God, He was not Allah
so I was destined to roast anyway. That’s how I saw things after only a few hours.
I said that having a personal purpose was a murky issue, but I liked what I was doing, to
which the youths (usually in their twenties) told me that serving Allah was their purpose.
Reading between the lines, I understood that Allah approved of, if not actually ordered the
taking of the embassy, a divine act for which I showed no appreciation. I may even have
inadvertently challenged their beliefs, because I had no understanding of the depth to which
religion pervaded their society when I said that following one's faith into a withering hail of
bullets was certainly a glorious demonstration of the power of personal conviction. However, I
thought it was asking a lot of those who were not so sure that the immediate spiritual journey
such an act of devotion precipitated was worth it.
I gleaned from their conspiratorial glances that I was slated to endure a nightmare worse
than having to explain my life to them in perpetuity.
"Would you agree that part of what camouflaged the source of their zealousness from your
view," Bonnie said, drawing on our previous conversation, "was the intelligence, high degree of
education, and unexpected sophistication of the people in general?"
Nodding in the affirmative, I said, "I was generally ignorant, and specifically held a western
bias, partly because I had no opportunity to research the country. The telephone had rung at three
in the morning," I explained, "my wife said that if I answered it she would not be there when I
got back; I was on the plane to Iran by seven-thirty." I shrugged again.
Bonnie knew the whole story about our mutual infidelities, so she knew the phone call
wasn’t the cause of my divorce—that my work frightened my wife, and I was away a lot, aside.
It was a final nail.
I told Bonnie that, aside from dealing with issues of religion directly, we also had
confrontations over nationality. The theme was that Canada was a puppet state of America,
therefore Canadians are Satan's cousins. Only once did I unwisely argue that if geography was
the criteria of similarity, was it that the Iranians were more like the Iraqi's, or were Iraqi's like
Iranians? This brought one youth to near apoplexy, which would have been funny were we not
standing amidst a crowd of (officially estimated) one million believers at the time. As a result,
we left the area amid a fusillade o f angry Farsi before the Revolutionary Guard came to see who
had started the ruckus.
So ended our first full day in Tehran.
Day two began with us removing identifying country flags and network logo stickers from
our equipment. Everything in Iran, we had re alized, reflected one's rapport with Allah at this
crucial time of social revolution. Ironically, it turned out that having no stickers was considered