My new piece in the Guardian, a love letter to the French people in empathy with victims of terror in Nice. I also want this to be a message against the violence that is wrecking havoc the world over from Beirut, Baghdad & Istanbul to Paris, Brussels & New Orleans; against violent rhetoric that is raging across the world by reactionary voices & autocratic rulers who use the war against terror as an excuse to curtail their people’s freedom, those like Donald Trump in the U.S. or Marie Le Pen in France who in the name of freedom undermine freedom.
As you know, no matter where we are from, we are born citizens of the Republic of Imagination (ROI), the portable world found in books and other forms of art. Unlike our physical homes, the portable one accompanies us no matter where we go. My childhood, for instance, was defined by the stories read to me by father and later discovered at the library & bookstores. Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, stories from the great Persian epic poet, Ferdowsi, The Little Prince and Pinocchio took me to new places and taught me about curiosity & empathy, about how to change and be changed, how to connect to others & how to discover new terrains. Even now, I turn to these & other tales as I reflect on complex questions ranging from personal dilemmas & relations to public policy, education, and foreign affairs.
With my new website, I want to create a platform for ROI citizens to share their experiences while responding to the questions: how and why are imagination and thought central to our lives today? In what practical ways do they help us understand and find answers to the current crisis both at home and abroad? To start things off, I would like to collect and share answers to the following question: as a child which book most influenced you? Was it a classic fairytale, a mystery book or perhaps a piece of non-fiction? How has that book contributed to where you are in life, where you hope to be, and your vision for America?
Submit your thoughts on the above question (250-300 words) along with a short bio in the “Contact” section under “send a message to Dr. Nafisi” and I will select content to be featured on the blog alongside my thoughts on the subject. The cutoff date for submissions is October 1.
As members of the Republic of Imagination it is questions like these that we must strive to derive meaning from together. For is not our childhood one of the most fruitful times of all for the cultivation of the imagination?