In parts of the west, we should consider ourselves fortunate that some time ago, things were put in place that meant we respected and tried to preserve our environment, reduced pollution, regulated smoking, encouraged recycling, encouraged healthy eating and cycling, made people wear seat belts, enforced speed limits, made it illegal for children to work, gave woman equal rights, decriminalised homosexuality and allowed gays to marry (UK, parts of US, not Australia). They may seem like the rules of a nanny state, and may not sit perfectly with everyone’s prejudice’s, but the average person leads a vastly better and longer life because of them.

It wasn’t until I saw multiple people throw trash out the window of their car, that I took a closer look at the landscape, and noticed trash everywhere. Firmly embedded into the landscape. When the grand kids of the litter bugs reach their age, Iran will be swimming in the stuff. I read the government is starting to see the light with the importance of preserving their environment and reducing pollution – they better hurry. Same with regulating the driving habits of motorists on the highways. Iran is one of the car crash capitals of the world, and there is good reason – they drive like absolute maniacs. It’s one thing to cut in and out of traffic in a busy city, it’s another thing to do so when you’re travelling at 120km per hour, and surrounded by trucks and busses. Crazy. I’d like to know exactly how someone can be so consumed with making good time, that they’re prepared to pull out to overtake a truck, when traffic is clearly approaching from the opposite direction. This isn’t science, there’s no fixed outcome. You’re in the hands of Allah, and Allah is often vengeful in such circumstances. To try and help drivers see the light, the government places car wrecks on pedestals all along the highways. They haven’t seen the light.

It’s clear that many young Iranians despise their government – many of them told me so. Many of them want to leave as a result. But they hate their government in a different manner to the ways in which we hate ours. We may lament all the rules, taxes and laws that inhibit our ‘freedom’ – there’s always going to be a lobby group that says a piece of progressive legislation undermines the sanctity of freedom and tradition (when children were taken out of the labour market in 1819, wealthy factory owners were up in arms about government ‘meddling’ with the economy. I learnt this during one of my nerd nights mentioned in the post below), and Dinosaur conservatives/religious extremists may want to see woman and gays remain out of sight, but the reforms and regulations we’ve enforced over the years have made life better for more people. There’s a reason why so many people are prepared to risk death to live with us, it’s not because they want to sponge off our taxes, it’s because we offer them the only chance they’ll ever have at being free. Proper freedom. The freedom that says, individually, we may all need to take half a step back – pay relative tax, recycle, tolerate stuff we don’t agree with, so as a whole we can all stride forward.

Cue raucous round of applause, ‘You did it again, great speech Adrian!’.