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Exclusive scenes from Leader’s Life: I am not totally alienated from youth. I still feel young to some extent

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I am not totally alienated from youth. I still feel young to some extent, and I will never let that happen to me. Thankfully, I have managed to avoid the feelings that overtook those people, and I will never let this happen to me.

I had a very exciting youth. Due to literary, artistic, and other such activities there was some excitement in my life before the Revolution. After the Revolution, this excitement came from the political activities which started in 1341. I was 23 at that time. I was at the heart of the most exciting developments in the country. I was imprisoned twice in 1342. I was arrested, imprisoned, and interrogated. Such things can fill your life with excitement. There was more excitement after I was released and met an impressively large number of people – who supported the values I had been imprisoned for – and their leader, Imam Khomeini (r.a.), who used to guide the people and rectify their actions, thoughts, and ways. That is why the life of people like me – who were involved in similar activities – was filled with excitement.

At that time, our elders – who were at my present age then – used to say some things that left us wondering why they thought like that. Now I can somehow understand them.

Of course, I am not totally alienated from youth. I still feel young to some extent, and I will never let that happen to me. Thankfully, I have managed to avoid the feelings that overtook those people, and I will never let this happen to me. But at that time our elders, who were overtaken by the feelings associated with old age, did not feel the pleasure that a young person can experience. That was the prevalent mood at that time. I do not want to suggest that there was a gloomy atmosphere. I do not want to make such a claim. But ignorance and lack of identity were very prevalent.

What is more, at that time me and people like me who were deeply and seriously engaged in political activities made every effort to pull as many of the youth as possible out of the regime’s sphere of cultural influence. For example, I used to do religious commentary at mosques, I used to deliver religious speeches after prayers, and sometimes I used to travel to different towns to give religious speeches. I specifically focused on freeing the youth from the cultural yoke of the Pahlavi regime. I used to call this yoke “the invisible net” at the time. I used to tell them that there was an invisible net, dragging each person in a specific direction. I wanted to destroy as many of these invisible traps as possible and free the youth. Those who were freed from these intellectual traps – who were characterized by a tendency towards religion and Imam Khomeini’s ideas – developed a kind of immunity. That was the case those days. The same generation formed the foundation stones of the Revolution later on. Even now in our present-day society I see many of the people who belong to the same generation – both the people I used to be in contact with and the people with whom I had no personal contact.

~Ayatollah Khamenei meeting with a group of youth on 4/27/1998

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