HAFEZ: 1st vs. 3rd World


HAFEZ: 1st  vs. 3rd  World
by Hafez for Beginners

HAFEZ:  1st  vs.  3rd  World

With the Olympics on and viewing a myriad of categories where sportsmen can excel,  I do wish we also had categories for what how rate nations as 1st World Vs. 2nd or 3rd World. We live in an era where the only category is essentially economic, material deveiopment, followed by political freedom.  Fair enough, the West gets the gold medal and Kudos to them. But as any person from the Arts would immediately observe, that's like having an Olympics with only one or two sporting categories. 

What about medals for:

- Architecture

- Urban Squares (the above, Maidan-eh Naghsheh Jahan: ISFAHAN, IRAN is one of my favorites -("3rd" World? - I don't think so.)

- How few or many children take anti-depressants

- How many people will come to help you if you tripped and fell on the sidewalk

- Food and Cuisine

- How few are obese

- Fashion (the Italians ace that one in my book)

- Economy

- Eonomy and what % actually trickles down to the population at large

and more... feel free to add to the list.

I have been blessed the opportunity to travel much. To physically live in 3 conitnents (Asia, Europe and the US) - and have often had to face the puzzling question in my mind: "This is called 3rd World?"  of "This is called 1st World"? - say, when standing in Isfahan's Maidan - or hearing stories of Katrina-like storms in Thailand and the lack of looting, nasty behavior or violence.

In Persian there's a saying - "Khodeshoun miboran o khodeshoun midoozand" - or something similar to that. The gyst is pointing to a tailor who determines what is a good fit, and then goes to make clothes to fit his own definition of what is "good." Who made up the "1st" world and "3rd" world definitions?


The World is a far more complex place than one which is purely
defined by material gains, or political freedom alone. Kudos to those who win Olympic gold in these 
categories . But there's far more nuance to this planet - and we need medals for many, many more categories....And of course this
took me to Hafez:

اگر این شراب خام است وگر آن حریف پخته

به هزار باره بهتر ز هزار پخته خامی

If "this" wine is unfermented and raw, while the "other" is perfectly formed and cultivated

I'd one thousand times over  stick with "this" over a thousand of the "other"s cultivated rawness

Hafez is reminding us that in the path of "Erfan" - Mysticism - any stage is worthy of high praise. Meanwhile, those rivals or "Harif" who are not in such a path,  no matter what level of expertise they have reached, fade in comparison to even the raw stages of the "Aref" or the mystic. Now... given that for Hafez the key to this path is living through your heart, as opposed to your mind / using "kherad" and rationale, then... I sometimes wonder what he'd think of our world today - that we have chosen to call 1st World all the material/logical gains - and relegate to 3rd place all else? Huh? Hafez joon, chi migi?


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Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Zendanian + Alborz: Thanks for your points. Actually, the underlying point of the post is indeed that there is ultimately only one world - and that one culture might have one type of strength, but others have different strengths. (Italy's economy and employment prospects are awful - and yet, folks flock there for soulful and artistic inspiration.) As for the two worlds and wings  of science vs. religion - my guess is that Hafez would ask us to aim for a world of Love. Then... science, religion + art will all fall into place. Maybe?


"1st World" & "3rd World" or just One World?

by Zendanian on

Middle Class Sensibilities and Realities of the World.

With all due respect: as some have observed in here, there are expanding, extensive pockets of Third World all over the First World, especially since five years ago.

The "Recession" of 2007, after five years, slowly but surley, has turned into the first great Depression of the 21st century, with no relief in sight.

A comparison of the rate of development between developed economies of the world (all Western except Japan), and developing economies will show us that in the past two decades, it has actually been China, India, Brazil and others in that group that have led the entire world in growth and development, rather than the "West."

Moral of the story:

- Catagories such as "First World" and "Third World" are basically useless nowadays, and are of use only as metaphors, devoid of any precision.

- Social Mobility in the "West" has been significantly stagnated in the past three decades, followed by greatest class polarities since 1920's. This process has been greatly accelerated in the past five years. 

- Enviornmental Crisis is posing issues and problems never seen in human history before.

- Today's world in one interconnected global unit. In our contemporary globalized world, concepts of class, gender, race and environment, rather than 'national' concepts, are the operative concepts we need to deal with. 


Agreed !

by alborz on

I did not and don't contest the facts that you present.  The downtown of many US cities are nothing but concrete wastelands (lack beauty) and the premise of gangs and drug dealers (lack safety).

But this is precisely why in my response, which perhaps was a bit dense, I suggested that the metric is actually the norms (median) for quality of life and opportunity for human potential to be fulfilled.  By these metrics, downtown Dubai, with its modern skyscrapers and free everything, still would not qualify as 1st world, as it would fails miserably on both accounts.  It has a bi-polar society - the locals live in subsidized luxury and the immigrant servants live in relative poverty.  Furthermore, its welfare society counters every animating desire for the fulfillment of human potential - spiritually and materially.

So, forget about downtown Washington DC, Paris, Florence and Isfahan, and look at the society as a whole and ask where the norms exist in each society. The US, despite its many shortcomings, still remains the number one, followed by the rest of the 1st world destinations for much of humanity, including the residents of Isfahan and Shiraz. 

The Olympics is the one place where every nation irrespective of whether it is labeled as 1st or 3rd world, receives the same honor, dignity and recognition for its athletes and accomplishments and all conflict and disagreement is set aside - with the exception of our very own nation which has distinguished itself in this regard also.  So, frankly the beauty of Isfahan pales in the face of the position that the Iranian atheletes are placed in this world event.

Again, you have raised many good points and I am in agreement with much of what you have expressed but my intention in this exchange is for you to consider the bigger picture and not focus on a single metrics which I frankly don't think is the measure for making any such determination as you have suggested.  In effect you may be challenging a faux-metric.


Religion and science are the two wings upon which man's intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone! Should a man try to fly with the wing of religion alone he would quickly fall into the quagmire of superstition, whilst on the other hand, with the wing of science alone he would also make no progress, but fall into the despairing slough of materialism.4

Hafez for Beginners

Paris, Rome, Isfahan

by Hafez for Beginners on

Alborz: Yes -  we do live in a world that labels "1st or 3rd" on the condition of a chosen metric. The world I wake up to, ranks the world according to this limited paradigm 24/7. I put in the Olympics to show that within one world - say that of sports - there are so many sub-metrics. Similarly, within one world of - say "humanity" - there are many sub-metrics. Economy and Tecnical advancement are one, but by no stretch all.


"Advanced Nations":

We don't look at different metrics with the world at large. We  judge by Economic or Technical advancement, only one metric. In fact, this is the first time in human history this is happening - where "Beauty" or the Arts don't feature. Paris, Rome, Isfahan, Baghdad - were not just centers of economic and technical advancement - they were the center of Beauty. The most beautiful gardens, avenues, buildings, palaces, fountains - were part of the paradigm of deserving the label "Advanced Nations." They are not any more. No amount of technical advancement, guarantees Beauty. Which is why the capitals of the "1st World" are not the most beautiful places on the planet. People still flock to Paris, Rome and Isfahan for that. 

Humanity has never, up until the modern era,  assigned being #1 to purely Economic/Technical advancement: Today, we build the "tallest" towers - not the most "beautiful" buildings. The aspiration is material, not spiritual. Beauty has stopped factoring in - essentially because we have taken out the spiritual aspirations, and have only the technical one left with which tojudge the whole planet. It is flawed. It isn't complete - and that's what the Blog is hoping to draw attention to. That by opening up the paradigms of how we view humanity, perhaps there could be more "dialogue" between different nations. None are complete.

Our Era has no "1st World" nation that is number #1 in contributions Technical and Beauty/Aesthetic, ie. Material and Spiritual: To get there, perhaps, just perhaps it would be best to stop using "1st Wolrd" as a label, as it dangerously  implies a mission that is far from complete. Much of Downtown Washington DC - the capital of the most powerful superpower in human history, looks like the 3rd World, or 2nd World at best. The trees alone are shambolic - often 4th World, if that category existed.  Paris, Rome or Isfahan or Florence  - when they were "Capitals" would not allow for that. But our technical age, is fine with it. Design wise, the US Capital is kind of a 2nd World at best - and that's a shame. It's also unprecedented in human history. 1st World, up until the modern ear, had always   aspired to have the most beautiful place on the planet as its capital:  Florence, Rome, Isfahan, Paris are all testament to that reality.  Not in this  Age. This incomplete Age.



by alborz on

 Hafez for beginners,

Your blog is essentially about the validity of metrics and I contend that any metric without its corresponding result is subject to the questions that you raise.  So, if one correlates these metrics to the quality of life and the realization of human potential then it is possible to correlate these metrics with ranking which the 1st and 3rd world denotes.

Furthermore, no society is ever measured on the basis of one metric, but a collection of metrics which combine to define the norms which then correlates with the ranking of a society.  Alongside these norms there are also fringes and these must be recognized as such. 

In conclusion, your point is well taken but the Olympics is all about physical and mental prowess.  I hope that we never resort to ranking the people of the world as our diversity defines human societies.


Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Mohammad Ala: That's lovely - talking about "immortality" in your movie when near the burial place of an immortal poet.

Mohammad Ala


by Mohammad Ala on

AM jan;  thanks for your efforts.  It is good to see your posts.

In a film which I am a producer, I show Hafez's tomb and talk about immortality.  More later. 

Good to have you around.

Hafez for Beginners

Technical vs. non-Technical Progress

by Hafez for Beginners on

Oon Yaroo: Thank you for your views. Last time I checked, Iran won an Oscar in 2012, and  produced the first Female Nobel Peace Prize winner from the Middle East. The Nobel Prize you mention is predominently assigned to the sciences, medicine, inventions, and economics (one literature prize is thrown in for good measure.) The Arts essentially - don't feature - Cuisine, Architecture, Carpets, Gardens, Urban Design, etc. - so you actually prove the point of the Blog: We are living in a world that calls rationalized material progress, the only progress. It is only one component of progress, and that is the point here. Technical vs. non-Technical progress. As for "sipping Tea with the Indians" - as you describe it, I'd be honored to be given the opportunity. 

Mamour: Good point, thanks for sharing.


Oon Yaroo

But, there are other contests and medals for intellectual

by Oon Yaroo on

....and scientific and artistic achievements.
They are called the Nobel Prize, Oscar, and academic prizes, etc. And guess what, Iranians along with the rest of the 3rd world folks are not there either, of course, except some Indians. There is a reason for that. The 1st world (e.g., the West) is always in search of finding new things and exploring. They take risks, pay a price for it, and reap the benefits. The 3rd world (e.g., the East) tends to relax, drink tea, read Hafez and Sad'di, pontificate, and take a chort in the afternoon, and pretty much stay 3rd world! It has been like that for the past 1400 years and most likely will remain that way for the next one!


Family values

by مآمور on

we would do well on that too!!


I wear an Omega watch

Hafez for Beginners


by Hafez for Beginners on

Fanoos - if the Maidan and it's 4 monuments don't impress you... it really is your aesthetic choice. Replace them with the Taj Mahal, or the Jameh Mosque in Isfahan, etc. etc. - It's not just scholars, azizam, who like these places. Plus, the Blog points to  rating all kinds of categories, other than architecture, there's a whole list you can draw from... like you did with  ARMANI -  which is a good example. Italians consider themselves "behind" when you live among them, they also become victimized into assessing their worth through a limited definition - and almost feeling ashamed if their economy isn't the size of a floating balloon ... while not forgetting that they rock when it comes to so much else. We need more categories that define humanity - beyond material achievement and political freedom. You can argue "Freedom" with no "Culture" is actually quite a dangerous combination... Happy that you like Armani, and thanks for the honest post.


Dear Afsaneh Jaan.

by fanoos on

I know you are an expert in architecture and I know I am not but what's so beautiful about this Meydan in Esfahan!? I recall, I visited that place in mid 60's as a young woman and then in the 90's as an older woman and in both times it made me sad and unimpressed. I mean if one is obsessed with the history of middle east as an scholar sees it differently thing than a person who has seen the whole world a tourist!? Could you elaborate on this paradox?

Thank you!

P.S. I love Giorgio Armani's dresses, by the way, they are so seductively sexy!