When I was in Iran, we used to hear about people like Prof. Javan, or Vafa or the talented Iranians who came to US years ago and succeeded.
We used to think that US and by extension the entire western capitalistic world, is just such a place, a place that you can come and succeed ! a place that appreciates talent and does every thing and any thing for that talent to be recognized. A place that makes every thing available for you, so that you can achieve your potential.
The forgone conclusion was then, that Iran is definitely not such a place. Iran was suffocating, Every body simply assumed. If you are in Iran and you are talented you will never succeed, no body appreciates you and no body cares and if you talk too much, you will find yourself in a prison and you will be either killed or crushed.
The fish in the tranquil waters, wanted to step out and see the world. The fish wanted to fly, just spread her wings and fly away.
The problem is that this picture was partially wrong, and partially right, it was half-truth, and half-illusion.
When all you have had all your life, is a blurred vision, you don't know how things are supposed to look. People who have had sharp vision all their lives, don't know what a blurred vision feels like. when all you have had, the entire time was a broken TV, you don't know how a working TV functions. Even if your TV is showing something right, you still can not appreciate that fact. If your life has only shades of one color, you never know about others.
It is important to travel and to see other places and other systems, other customs, other people. Your mind automatically starts working and comparing, you start asking questions. What do they have that we don't? What do we have that they don't? What did they do that we didn't? Was it good? Do we want to have that? Do we want our society to look like this ? So, this is important.
But on the topic of helping talents blossom, I came to a conclusion many years ago and that was that, you have to build an environment for all sorts of people. You never design a system that only works for one group of people with one sort of disposition, you build the whole thing from ground up with the idea that every one is talented in his or her own way, and every one has to have the opportunity to see all things that are possible for him or her.
The most efficient system of administration is the most possibly open minded one. Not every one would like to be an engineer or a physician, some body wants to paint, some one wants to study philosophy (hopefully not a big portion) and some one wants to write poetry. Building such a system is not easy, and it is not enough to just open the flood gate and let every one in, that is probably necessary but insufficient.
Those of us who left our motherland, have to ask ourselves a question. Were we right to assume that the western world is a place that would appreciate talents and allow them to grow ? Were we right to leave our country? Should we stay here for the rest of our lives? My answers to the first two questions are that we were right to think that way, we were also wrong to think in that particular way without qualification.
You should have no illusion, that as long as a society is built upon one paramount and over-arching principle such a society can not fulfill human's thirst for creativity and growth. Some of us, a very small fraction, will find that to an extent which is better than what we had back in Iran, and far less than what we thought we would have, or should, we will be satisfied. For the rest of us, what we make out of ourselves and what we learn about ourselves and about this society is the most valuable idea that we can come away with. For some people, a society that works based on a principle that money and material wealth for yourself is the only thing that matters and you are only as valuable as the amount of wealth that you make for yourself or for your employers,such a society, can be as limiting for human creative faculties as any fascist society.
Failing to appreciate man's hunger for creativity for meaningful and significant contribution to society has brought us to despair. The most important role that a government of people can fulfill is to tend to that endless spirit.
I am convinced that the entire path of evolution of society can be re-paved and re-mapped with this fundamental idea, that people need meaning in their lives, they need to be appreciated not only for the role they play in contributing to another lucky person's quest for amassing wealth, but also for the role that they can play, and the role that they want to play in creating a world where their ideas have contributed to every one's happiness and well-being.
The world is a big place, there is room for every one's talent, be it mathematics, or singing, building bridges or dolls, dancing or designing circuit boards. We need a system built around this. Built around realizing talents, in every conceivable way.