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It's A Gray Area: Finding a common ground with Iran

June 14, 2013|By James P. Gray

I have tentatively been invited to speak at a "New Horizons" worldwide conference in Tehran, Iran, at the beginning of September. From what a friend of mine who attended the conference last year said, this is an amazing opportunity to meet and share thoughts with the people of Iran, and see a part of that beautiful country. But the participants are requested first to submit an article about what they will discuss. A draft of mine is below, so let's see together if, after I submit it, I continue to be invited.

I am an American and a retired trial court judge who is proud of my country. We have a history of being ruled by a Constitution since it was created by our forefathers in 1787. The Constitution is, in my opinion, the most brilliant political document ever written. I do not always agree with my government, but — as a free man — I am entitled to voice my objections if and when they arise. I am here in your country as a kind of people to people ambassador bringing you greetings from many of my fellow Americans.

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You are Iranians, and rightfully proud of your country as well. You have a history that goes back well before Cyrus the Great, who employed many of the same principles of respect for the rights of the individual that are found in our Constitution. Your history with Cyrus the Great alone goes back about 2,600 years, so you certainly have us beaten on longevity.

We Americans and Iranians have many things in common, and some things that are not. Let's focus upon and celebrate those things that we share in common, and be mindful and respectful of each other when we differ.

What are some of the things we have in common? We both believe in education. The people of Iran are among the most educated in the world, with an abundance of engineers, doctors, attorneys and scientists. Let's be vocal together in celebrating education for all.

We believe in family, as well as family values, and the beauty and blessings that flow from such strong and loving relationships. Let's be vocal together in celebrating the family and those family values.

We abhor random violence that strikes, injures and kills innocent people. Let's be vocal in our opposition against any and all people, groups and governments that inflict such random violence. And, yes, that includes being vocal about America's government as it is now using unmanned airplanes or drones to shoot missiles from the sky that kill people on the ground in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

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