|Char Simons at a Tehran synagogue|
- Iranians are the most pro-U.S. people in the Middle East outside of Israel.
- The president of Iran sets foreign policy and decides whether to wage war or peace.
- There are 25 national political parties representing a wide range of opinion. Men and women ages 16 years and older may vote in elections.
- More Americans than Iranians attend religious services regularly.
- Iran has not invaded another country in 300 years.
- The integration of men and women in public space. From administering a major university library to jogging, women, often wearing colorful headscarves and fashionable slacks, tunics, high heels and jewelry were very visible.
- The subtlety of religious practices. Iran is the only Middle Eastern country I’ve visited where I didn’t hear the call to prayer.
- Poetry as a major part of the national identity. A form of both political dissent and appreciation of beauty and the human spirit, poetry performances draw crowds in the hundreds. Major streets are named for poets. Everyday people from computer programers to college students knows reams of classical poetry by heart. The hottest Friday night dating scene is the garden tomb of Hafez, where couples meet to recite love poems.