Iran-US tensions: 5 ways Americans and Iranians are actually similar

Despite escalating US-Iran tensions, remarkable similarities between their peoples have prompted some to suggest that the US and Iran could one day be powerful ‘natural’ allies.

5. Spirituality

Raheb Homavandi/Reuters
Students hold Iran's flag while attending the anniversary ceremony of Iran's Islamic Revolution at the Khomeini shrine in the Behesht Zahra cemetery, south of Tehran, Tuesday.

Faith is never far in the Islamic Republic, declared to be a "Government of God" by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. It is relentlessly on the minds and in the hearts of many Iranians, and can be felt from mosque to classroom to street corner.

Likewise faith is never far away in America, where the Declaration of Independence proclaims that all men are "endowed by their Creator" with unalienable rights, where Americans pledge allegiance to "one nation under God," and where every piece of currency is marked: "In God We Trust."

"In the US, having a system that thinks religiously is not bad.... I prefer people in the US who go to church," conservative editor Amir Mohebian once told the Monitor. "But war between these two people – who think they are acting on behalf of God – is not good. War between believers is too dangerous."

This list is adapted from Scott Peterson's book, "Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran – A Journey Behind the Headlines." Follow Scott on Twitter.

5 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.