What, you may ask, does an Arab warrior who was killed over a thousand years ago in some Caliphate power struggle in Karbala have in common with Terry Fox, a modern one-legged Canadian gentleman, sufferer of cancer, who enjoyed running a lot?
Not much, you would say. And you would be wrong. Both are held up as paragons of virtue, courage, dedication and sacrifice by state educators, Terry Fox in Canada, and the other Arab gentleman in Iran. And teachers in both countries succeed in driving children crazy with boredom and frustration by talking about these guys so much.
-“I hate Fox series man!” declared the golden boy yesterday. He had confused Terry Fox’s with the name of an American-Arab satellite channel watched illegally by Iranians, including his grandparents, in Iran.
I was also confused. “Why? Why do you hate Terry Fox?”
-“Because he is boring!!!! And he wants our money!!!!” shrieked the golden boy.
Yes. The kids do a “Terry Fox” run, emulating the great saint Terry Fox, and raise money to go to charity. Somehow, the wrong message had filtered to the golden boy.
A couple of years ago, when the princess was in primary, she had nightmares about Terry Fox, a one-legged sick dead man running up and down Canadian school yards. Mr. Karbalai, the Arab gentleman I was talking about up there is not really a figure of comfort or joy for children either: killed and his family massacred by the bad guys, for reasons no-one ever fully understood. Oh, and they were thirsty, as well. It was the desert, right?
All heroes. The State, in Canada or Iran, insists on erecting these hero figures and worshipping them, and keeps producing the opposite results. The children in my class were sick of the Karbalai. And the golden boy hates Fox man.