We Are All Equal | Teen Ink

We Are All Equal MAG

By Anonymous

     I grew up in an Iranian-Italian family in Las Vegas, and when I was nine, my parents decided it was time for me to discover my roots and visit Iran. On a hot and humid August night, our plane landed in Iran’s bustling capital, Tehran. From that moment on, I knew I was going to feel the country and people of Iran that lived in my bones and ran in my bloodstream.

We were greeted by airport staff who seated us in a stuffy room. They brought my parents tea and water while we waited for the family I had never met. Only a few moments passed before a burst of excitement entered the room and a large portion of my extended family came in welcoming us to their country with hugs, kisses, and tears.

For the next three weeks, I visited with my large Iranian family and saw historic sites. I went to important poets’ graves and the Shah’s palace, which faced a huge pool where noblemen were made to play polo just because the Shah liked watching.

I also saw where my father grew up. Since his family was very poor, these houses were quite small. The first, right in Tehran, was a one-bedroom apartment with a fireplace and stove. The second was a small shack in the countryside with an upstairs and a roof from which my dad had watched the stars.

I saw how women work endlessly on the intricate Persian rugs; they weave with their bare hands, back and forth, making sure every detail is perfect. All this was nice, but what stunned me were people’s attitudes toward Americans. The Iranians could tell my mother and I were American and we were either loved by those who were delighted we were there, or we were openly hated.

The hate was easy to see in their grimaces, but mostly it was either yelled out on the street or spraypainted on buildings. On the wall of a small building on a busy street, the words “Down with America” were painted next to a picture of the American flag being torn apart. I couldn’t understand why people would hate Americans until I realized something: my own homeland - America the beautiful, the home of the free and the brave - is just as bad as Iran about stereotyping nationalities.

In America, we have many people with diverse beliefs who discriminate against each other instead of working together! At school I hear kids speaking about others’ race or sexuality in a rude, disrespectful way. Kids tease others because they’re from a background they’ve never heard of or because they look different. But just as there are kind-hearted Iranians interested in American culture, there are people who are friends with others based on the content of their character and not where they’re from or what they look like.

No one is below or above another person, even if their social status might suggest it. I understand now that this hate comes from not understanding that we are all just beings living on the same planet, living through the same situations in different ways. Bill Gates and the lady I saw covered in dirt weaving a rug on the street are equals. Even though they might have different backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and earnings, they are both just people.

I was only nine when I saw the world and its people in a different way. I realized that the kids surrounding me in Iran and the kids surrounding me in Las Vegas are all equal, and no one deserves to be hated or treated disrespectfully. I grasped that it’s not about the type of car I have, or the clothes I wear. At the end of the day, it’s about loving others for who they are and respecting them for what they believe.

When I left Iran, I truly felt the country in my bloodstream and in my bones, just as I did the second I arrived. And the amazing thing is, the country that I visited was really not so different from the country in which I grew up.

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