My Awakening

One thing I can’t stop admiring about Shirin Ebadi is how truly intelligent she is. Not just from her education or attending law school, but her natural intelligence and understanding of the time and place she lives in. She’s so smart but she never pretends to know everything. She’s the first to admit when she’s made a mistake or done something naïve. And she’s also first to play down her great achievements, such as being in the first class of women to become judges in Iran and, well, winning the Nobel Peace Prize! But she immediately detaches it from all her great individual strides and attaches the victory to the world’s final belief that peaceful change in Iran is possible and the first real positive interpretation of Islam.

After all this time, it was so great to see her finally recognized for how hard she fought and how strongly she believed in the good of her country. She was finally rewarded for remaining loyal to a place that had turned against her so many times and to a country and religion that the world didn’t fully accept or understand. I was so thrilled that she finally saw she had convinced the world what she knew all along—there were Iranians who wanted a peaceful transformation of Iran and there is a good Islam population that should be supported and helped. It felt so good to read about her receiving one of the highest honors for her work, and to read her comprehension of what the prize really meant.

The final chapter of this book really made it easier to accept a lot of the struggles she had to survive throughout the story. Though it’s not a perfect happy ending (she still had trouble publishing her book and she still can’t return to Iran as we learned in class today) it’s such an inspiring story to know a single woman can do so much and create so much change. One woman was such a threat to the government and such a beloved figure to the people. When she returns to Iran after winning the Nobel Peace Prize and sees them extended in all directions, and her brother tells her they drove there, walked there and flights were cancelled, all so people could see her, it’s a really moving scene. Just as the sign reads in the last sentence of chapter 12, “This is Iran”, this is the Iran she believed in all long, this is the young, hopeful assembly of people all proud of what she’s done, and this was her Iran.

When we discussed where Ebadi is currently in class, it was tough to learn she couldn’t return to Iran. But she’s doing so much to spread awareness and understanding everywhere she goes. I’ve followed many stories about Iran in the news and I’ve learned about Iran in history class, but it’s so weighed down with political obstruction that it’s hard to get down to the plain facts—what’s really happening. A personal story like hers is so much more meaningful and beneficial. She explains it with such lucidity and it really leaves a lasting effect.

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