Years ago, a mutual friend and I laughed at the position of some of his relatives. My friend, although he does not militate in any political party, I can always place him in favour of many just causes. However, for some of his relatives in Cuba, his opinions critical of the national environment made him an opponent, a worm that had to leave. For the other part of the family clan, settled outside the country, his arguments for the Cuban social system made him a communist, who had to stay hungry and misery in Cuba. In honor of the truth, my friend was neither, nor an opponent, nor a communist.
The sides are fashionable these days. Their barricades, their scandals, their acts and songs and signs rise. The reasons, the arguments, usually, are falling behind, become less and less visible than the cries and offenses and slogans that tip each other away from the nets. Worse, in the midst of so much buzz and so much rudeness, even the reason for their discussions blurs, what they stand for, why and for what.
A person who opposes the Cuban social system paints, on the outer wall of his house, slogans against socialism and its leaders. In a civilized country nothing would happen. It’s your right, your opinion, your thought. I didn’t vote for them, you can say, even here. In this country, whose political creed says military in defense of a more humane, progressive project, in search of the welfare and improvement of the people, a mob invades its portal, is said to break padlocks and that, in addition to painting the wall to erase the writings, they leave a slogan on the floor of the portal. Inside the house, the opponent is accompanied by another person, plus two young children and their mother, as referred to by the networks. If the narrative is reliable, the scene is described with cries of frightened children and offenses from those who enter the house grounds. I don’t know what they said, in the pictures, they don’t really look very friendly.
Too much has already been written, too many wounds come afloat yet, when the rallies of repudiation of that year 80 are remembered, when those who left the country by the Mariel were offended and unintended for their thinking and their desire to live elsewhere. Still, every once in a while, someone apologizes to someone. Are we witnessing the return of such aberrations? Does the purpose of defending a just, human cause, as Cuban socialism is proclaimed, justify the means of abusing, abusing, invading the portal of a home where there are women and children, however opposition they may be? I try to imagine how this magnifies Cuban socialism, how it strengthens left-wing ideology and revolutionary union by erasing signs and scaring a family… I try to imagine José Martí leading an angry group invading the portal of a house, maybe even enemy, where there were women and children… I can’t make it.
I grew up hearing that Celia Sanchez Manduley was in charge of taking care of himself, providing home, education and material and spiritual protection to the children of those who were tried, imprisoned or shot after January 1959. I grew up reading anecdotes that the respectful and honorable treatment of the wounded or captured enemy was a tradition in Cuba, from the Mambises to the Rebel Army. I was brought up saying that these were the attitudes of a worthy human being, capable of respecting even the enemy; that progressive causes are not dishonored or dirty from human lowness and misery. I was instilled in the humanist teaching of this country that a process, which is said to be just, should not be soiled by lies, offense and brute force, much less if it is to defend it. Of course, it is also possible to discuss the validity and veracity of this education and anecdotes, but it is flour from another cost.
So what are we becoming, if political opinion, or almost any other opinion at this point, makes us the target of the offenses of anyone who locates, or places us, on the opposite side? To cite just one example, certain instances of this country, including officials, plus many worthy and well-worthy people, have been fighting for women’s rights for years, out of respect for sexual diversity, out of more respect for animals, because race, gender or a religious belief is not a stigma or a social limitation. We didn’t learn those ideas anywhere else. They came out of the education they gave us in socialist schools. So if we must live together and respect such diversity, is it so difficult to respect the diversity of thought or ideology? Are we back to the time of unanimity, if you’re not with me, are you against me? What late “patriot” does it think of that booing a person or repudiating them, in the best way of nazism’s anti-Semitic ghettos, is an act of revolutionary reaffirmation? What does an official journalistic body do by turning its ideological struggle into a vulgar flip flop with offenses and qualifiers of the lowest ralea? Are those the weapons of the socialist ideological creed? Does that strengthen the country, make it more dignified in the eyes of the world, even in the eyes of serious rivals, of solid creed?
My opinion, the simple opinion of a citizen, is surely worth little in the midst of the current shouting. If I say that I abhor politics and above all the wage earners of their thinking of it, of any policy and chair, their modus vivendi and not a means of helping others, it will still be worth less. But it is impossible to see without sadness, without much care, that the current state of actions and methods leaves much to be desired and generates not a few concerns.
Some provoke and some respond. We don’t talk about offenses and songs in the networks and the media here. We talk about direct, physical acts, violence that can start with screaming and booing, banging on a padlock or brushing a wall, but that when unleashed, no one can know where it ends up.
What scenario can be triggered by any of these excesses? What would happen in a panic stampede or a blind response from one of those repudiated? What will happen, in the midst of those infidence, if the rubber of a car explodes, some firecracker resounds, something breaks with shudder and causes a shooting from law enforcement at some group of civilians? What will happen, let’s all think, if in the outburr of one of those out-of-the-box mobs someone dies? What consequences would a martyr of dissent bring (fallen under communist repression, the headlines would say there) or a martyr of socialism (dishonorably fallen against the mercenaries of the empire, the headlines here would say)? I can’t imagine any good consequences. Under the brags and furies of mobs there are not even sides, there is only no lack of sanity.
I discussed some of these ideas with a good friend. We don’t know each other in person, the networks have forged our friendship, but I respect it and I want it for its intelligence and its serious and fair partying in certain, always positive causes. I don’t quote his name because I’ll use these words of his without his knowledge. She told me that she was a communist, environmentalist, animalist, feminist, mother, educator, legalist, who is in favor of all forms of civilized humanism that does not discriminate or repress. I think I identify, with more or less knowledge and more nuances, less nuances, with some of those causes. In fact, many of these thoughts and attitudes, we learned them here, in this social system, under socialist education. I am augured by my friend who, thinking in these ways that I now expose, the two sides can attack us, consider that we too are these ideas, the enemy. “Come, fierce great. / Come, jackals, / and move horn and tooth / And in horde attack,” would the older Cuban say.
Maybe that’s the problem on the sides. To be such, they need an enemy. But, neither do they change houses of occasion begging for acceptances andnuences (here and there); nor the usual opportunists (here and there); nor those who appeal to miserable personal arguments, pejorative offenses and qualifiers to combat the other and not their ideas (here and there); nor those who practice force and violence to retain power or from the aspiration to obtain it, none represents me or attracts me or convinces me. Those who do acts of repudiation in the name of socialism are not and will not be revolutionary, humanistic or progressive. Those who wish to lynch or burn the communists, if socialism falls, will be no better than those who now accuse, nor would they bring a better Cuba, if their assumption begins with such a massacre. None of those sides serve a better country.
I have right-wing and left-wing friends who debate on the nets. On rare occasions I know both years of study, college scholarships, special periods and early morning commoners where we argued live, with equal passions and a little less years. Many times I see them contend, laugh together in good vibes, and even get hot from their reasons. However, the real ones, those who dialogue and do not fight against the opinion but against opinion, end up inviting themselves to a beer “and, when all this happens, we keep arguing there,” they say. A there that can be in Miami, in Madrid or that, almost always, is in Havana.
I hope there is some drink, any beer or table or night, where we all fit, without anyone speaking louder, without offense, or any side other than to make a better Cuba and a more prosperous, free and happy people. We are still in time to sit down to debate and then do, once again in vital and martyred reaffirmation, with all and for the good of all. Ω