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Can a woman safely run through Iran alone?


Photo Courtesy of Kristina Paltén

Calah Alexander - published on 04/24/17

Kristina Paltén set out on a mission and surprised even herself by what she discovered.

If you had asked me that question a week ago, I would have said “absolutely not.” I would have envisioned all kinds of horrors for her. I would also have maintained that a woman couldn’t safely run through the US alone, or Europe alone. Maybe Canada, though.

Anyway, I would have been wrong. Check it out:

I was very skeptical when this video started. “Propaganda,” I thought. “Silly and staged — of course she can run through Iran with a CAMERA CREW! Duh.”

But I had second thoughts when I saw her cell phone video of the first night, where she was clearly filming herself admitting she was afraid and fighting back tears. The text says that a man approached her tent that first night to offer food as a way of welcoming her into his country, but all we see is a picture of the man holding grapes.

“That would have been a powerful moment,” I thought, “so why was it not filmed?” In fact, although we do see some filming that is clearly being done at a distance, we also get a series of unstaged photos that look remarkably like they were snapped with a cell phone.

Read more:
Video: This Will Make You Think Twice About Prejudice

Curiosity piqued, I went to the website for the documentary and found this explanation: “To make sure Kristina truely (sic) was alone our cameraman was only with her on the road in Iran during 8 out of the total 58 days it took Kristina to cross Iran.”

Um. You guys, this woman LITERALLY ran through Iran alone. Unlike Hitchbot, this is not some kind of hokey, feel-good progressive stunt. This is an incredibly brave act by one woman, to remind the world of our common humanity. And it worked. In Kristina’s own words:

My run through Iran represents, in my mind, the simple, yet incredible beauty that happens when people meet. Or, as one family in whose home I slept, expressed it: “I believe that inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. If people get the opportunity to show their good side, they become prosperous and create a better world around themselves … You became a bridge for people to get closer. If you, as an outsider, can trust us, we can also rely on each other and be graceful to each other.” By having the courage to be vulnerable and hence meet, as the true person I am, we create trust, openness and belongingness. And that is where we create a beautiful, better world around ourselves.

Sidenote: Major shout-out to the Iranian lady with the pink veil and pink hair. I like your style, sister.

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