By Michael Serota, The Oakland Tribune
The images broadcast from Iran last month remind us that the human spirit is capable of incredible achievements.
For the majority of Americans, myself included, the photographs and YouTube videos documenting the clash between the Iranian people and the Baseej militia are living proof that the human spirit is able to transcend the limits of physical strength or brute force and reach something much greater.
While the story of American courage and bravery connected to the founding of our country may be the quintessential example of the human spirit overcoming oppression and tyranny, it is rooted in a distant past. Although the American Revolution is deeply ingrained in the American psyche, it is not readily accessible for many of us who live in an era of technology and remote-controlled warfare.
Recently, many students (such as myself) were home for winter vacation and encountered images of student protests. We witnessed students just like ourselves, halfway across the world, hurling rocks and clashing with a well-armed militia. In response to this civil disobedience, many were beaten, shot at and even killed, and yet, they persisted. In some cases, they even overpowered these professional soldiers.
It is hard not to wonder if American students would also be capable of this. Would I be willing to risk my life for the same basic political rights that most Americans view as the norm, rather than as a privilege? I believe the answer to this question is yes.
Many of our fellow compatriots, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, evidence the strength and persistence of the American spirit daily — although that message often gets lost in our country’s politically partisan discourse.
With the new year here, and with our country facing unemployment and complicated policy challenges of an overwhelming magnitude, I suggest that we, the American people, channel into our own lives the bravery and courage recorded in these images, videos and stories broadcast from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
They stand as proof that the human spirit is capable of overcoming incredible odds. While these events from overseas often seem detached from our mostly urban lifestyle, in fact, they are not.
They are merely humans persisting in the face of adversity — and that is something that every student, employee or one of our numerous unemployed is capable of doing.
Michael Serota is a third-year law student at the UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law.