I met an Iranian General

I took megabus* from San Francisco to LA. But we stopped in San Jose. A man got in and sat next to me. I ignored him.

Later, we talked, and I wondered about his accent. Still later I asked if he wanted some of my water. He didn’t. Then he turned the vents down a little.

Finally, he told me he was visiting this country from his native land. I asked where that was. He said, somewhat uncomfortable, “Iran.” We kept talking. I found out he was in the Iranian military. Ok fine. He said he flew Chinook helicopters. Alright, pretty sweet. He told me he retired as a Brigadier general. haha. I couldn’t believe it.

America is an egotistical nation in this way: time after time, polls, data, and reports tell us that we’re doing something badly. Or worse than before. For instance, we find out that we’re falling behind in math and science. But public sentiment is unconcerned. This is America! We don’t do things badly. Yet, what always puffs our ego is talking to people from other countries, and this guy did that for me. He told me how much he loved America. He trained in America (there were no flight schools in Iran), then he moved back to Iran, but never forgot America. All of his family members live her and he tries to come here as much as possible. He wants to get a green card, but it will be hard because he’s from Iran. He doesn’t care though. He loves America.

I tell him that the schools in America aren’t what they used to be. He tells me he loves our religious freedom. I tell him college is expensive, he tells me his grandson is an electrical engineer at Stanford and that it’s worth every penny. Wherever I see room for growth or change, he tells me what a wonderful country we’ve built. It feels good. It really does. It’s deceptive, but it does feel really good.

It makes me laugh to think that we have trouble getting behind the idea that it should be easy for people to come to america and study math and science, and then live here when they’re done. I won’t claim that such people love America more than some Americans, that would be heresy. But these people, by and large, seem to love America in a way that some native-born American cannot quite appreciate first-hand.

This general had broken english, and I told him about “the immigrant mentality.” The idea that with hard work, one can make it in America. He knew this phrase and agreed. He said that he told his grandson and other family members that education was most important. That they should work, study, and take advantage of all America has to offer. It was very inspiring. It may be proud to be an American, and it made me more optimistic about the future. Last, it made me think that we really need to welcome people who want to come here.

It’s like school. You can’t make kids want to be in class, and a corollary; those who want to be in class usually do much better than those who don’t. I want to be around people who want to be in America.

*Megabus claims to have wi-fi. That is laughable. Most people know that it is laughable. I could create better wi-fi if molded tin-foil to take signals out of the air.


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