While tensions seem to be forever on the rise between the US and Iran, the people of the two countries actually have a lot in common. It may sound crazy to some, but there are several cultural similarities between the US and Iran that binds their citizens despite the fact their two governments don’t get along.
How often have you heard the phrase “American exceptionalism”? People say it all the time. Sometimes they use it as a positive thing, and sometimes it’s used in a derogatory manner, but the one thing everyone can agree on it’s that Americans think they’re exceptional. Well, so do Iranians. Harking back to the days of the great Persian Empire, Iranians believe they hold a special destiny that sets them apart from the rest of the world’s nations.
2. Defending Themselves Against Tyranny
The dire state of American-Iranian relations is largely the result of their shared hatred of tyranny. The problem is while the US gained their freedom by kicking out the British, the Iranians had to cast off the US-installed Shah. However, since both governments view themselves as being founded in the noble cause of overthrowing tyrannical regimes, they actually have more in common than their contrasting styles of government suggest.
Americans have great pride in their nationality, but so do Iranians. While both peoples consider themselves peaceful, they also see themselves as quick to act should their security become threatened. Naturally, this can cause problems in regards to Iran-United States relations since they both can feel threatened by the other. It would be nice, however, if they could recognize their disdain for the other’s nationalism as reflective of their own behavior.
4. The Strength of the Individual
Like the US, Iranians have a strong tradition of individualism. Perhaps the reason Iranians adapt so well to living in the US – and are so fond of American entertainment – is the belief in making the most of one’s opportunities. Unfortunately, this also can result in a defensiveness if they feel like they’re being pushed around. For instance, during the Cold War, Iran sided with neither the US nor the Soviet Union, choosing instead to go it alone.
While nominally a secular nation, American leaders have long emphasized the importance of their religion. While Iran may take this sense of spirituality to an extreme, the two countries are not dissimilar when it comes to placing religion at the center of cultural life.
Perhaps when the leaders of the two sides are willing to recognize that there is more uniting than dividing them, there will finally be a thawing in Iran-United States relations, and the spirit of mistrust can be replaced with one of cooperation and understanding.