There is an article by Marguerite Del Giudice on Iran in the August, 2008 National Geographic.
The following is from the article.
"The legacy from antiquity that has always seemed to loom large in the national psyche is this: The concepts of freedom and human rights may not have originated with the classical Greeks but in Iran, as early as the 6th Century B.C. under Achaemenid emperor Cyrus the Great, who established the first Persian Empire, which would become the largest, most powerful kingdom on Earth. Among other things, Cyrus, reputedly a brave and humble guy, freed the enslaved Jews of Babylon in 539 B.C., sending them back to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple with money he gave them, and established what has been called the world's first religiously and culturally tolerant empire. Ultimately it comprised more than 23 different peoples who coexisted peacefully under a central government, originally based in Pasargadae - a kingdom that at its height, under Cyrus's successor, Darius, extended from the Mediterranean to the Indus River.
So Persia was arguably the world's first superpower."
"It was a stable superpower for more than a thousand years."
The author is informed that we outsides tend to judge Iran by the last thirty years, the Islamic revolution, and not by what came before. Even now, 65 percent of the college students are girls.
The article goes on, and then, the author writes:
"In fact, the first thing people said when I asked what they wanted the world to know about them was, "We are not Arabs!" (followed closely by, "We are not terrorists!"). A certain Persian chauvinism creeps into the dialogue. Even though economically they're not performing as well as Arab states like Dubai and Qatar, they still feel exceptional. The Arabs who conquered Iran are commonly regarded as having been little more than Bedouin living in tents, with no culture of their own aside from what Iran gave them, and from the vehemence with which they are still railed against, you would think it happened not 14 centuries ago but last week."
And therein, the reason we have wars. 14 centuries. Forgiveness, working together and moving on, anyone?