Isolated from the world, behind the cold walls of the notorious Evin prison in Iran, seven prisoners have been languishing in inhumane conditions for over a year now with no access to their lawyer, the Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi. The Iran Seven, as they are frequently called, are “guilty” of the crime of promoting the oneness of humanity, motivated by a Faith that the Iranian authorities label heretical. Among the charges that have been laid against them is the charge of “spreading corruption on earth”.
In times past, victims of oppression such as these would have perished in relative obscurity. Today, however, all of humanity is able to bear witness to such cruelties, and to raise its voice in defense of the defenseless. The struggle for social justice is taking on a new form in an age of global interconnectedness. The conscience of humanity has been stirred. Humanity is speaking out.
But no great movements of social transformation – from the establishment of democracy to the abolition of slavery to the achievement of women’s suffrage – have been achieved without suffering and sacrifice. This dynamic has not changed. What is changing is humanity’s collective responsiveness to injustice.
The Iran Seven have demonstrated their willingness to offer the highest possible sacrifice – their lives, if necessary – for the cause of unity and justice. Their offering is an invitation to humanity to join them in advancing this cause. It is an invitation to move beyond indifference to suffering. It is an invitation to demonstrate solidarity with the victims of oppression everywhere. It is an invitation to lift the burden of sacrifice from the shoulders of those who are giving their lives for the cause of social justice.
This is what the oneness of humanity looks like.
This is agency and change.