Reconquering decency

By: Antonio López Sánchez

Social media, within its many benefits, is also a kind of first-hand survey of many people’s ideas, interests and supports. Just to cite one example, on Facebook you can find sites against animal abuse, to encourage good spelling, as well as art galleries, followers of an artist and even groups to swap, or buy and sell dissimilar things. As a main course are opinions, equal on dissimilar issues (for or against), published by each member.
A friend uploads a post (or what’s the same, an entry, a post, depending on the language of the network), to the wall of her Facebook profile. The message is a small box with a text headed by the phrase To change the country you have to. Then, with a set of various typography, insert exhortations such as: do not sneak in; don’t throw trash in the street, read more; recycle; caring for animals; not drinking and driving; help the person next door; love, work, care; respect, among several others of equal cut.
Among the many answers that provoked his act, I highlight one, but out of discordant. A forist, with some textual and political aggression, described the post as useless. In his view, even in compliance with such precepts, we would not end corruption, theft and other evils that also, we know, afflict our society. Besides, she suggested that my friend, for posting the message, would be rewarded with a little jabita or something. Other foristas responded and admonished the aggressor, first and foremost, for his disrespect for the opinion of others and the quick way to answer. The event gives us a couple of thoughts.
Let us begin by saying that, in honor of the truth, none of the exhortations in the text are political in nature and do not address such grounds. Mixing both ideas is, as my elders said, to confuse potash with mustard. Moreover, and now we would vote for someone whose first act to disqualify a rival idea was to attack, offend the opinion and not beat the opinion. Already in these pages we have talked other times about the evil that turns the rails from any dialogue or idea towards the political. Worse, it turns out if it is done with bad blood and chambone criteria and not with strong, serious and well-founded postures to discuss. Dialogue with offense, or from positions of power or glances on the shoulder, is not dialogue. Moreover, the reluctant forist, embedded in the delusional desire to criticize anything and at any cost, did not even read the text well. Because I didn’t steal, it was one of the proposed ideas.
Cleared up that point, we think basic, there would be other issues that we can sweep. It is clear that we live in a country with thousands of problems. Many of them, in their direct logics, are oblivious to politics (although in the end everything is political, such blows in my ear an old troubadour friend, already gone). But wouldn’t our lives be a little better if we really recycled, didn’t mistreat animals, get less dirty, read, listen, respect and take more care of everything? Who, of what ideology, can be against these noble exhortations? Even in a dreadful, corrupt and thieves’s country, would it hurt, as the text asks, to “give way, play, not discriminate, save, stop fighting, and get to know your culture more”?
You can be communist, reactionary or Catholic. The ideological platforms of his creed and the authors and capital arguments can even be known and repeated to the front, but if he does not meet the most elementary and positive standards of human behavior, just those requested by the publication of marras, he will not go from being a communist, reactionary or unpleasant and ill-educated Catholic, a detestable, disrespectful being, no matter if he belongs to Jacobins or Girondians. Even a kind executioner would be preferable to a rude one, if it were to choose.
Because it happens that, along with corruption, theft and so on, we also suffer other consequences in our day-to-day life, without having anything to do with ideology. It does wrong who does not stop at red lights, who drinks and drives, who does not study, who discriminates, who lies. Right now, anywhere, anytime, you milite on any side, you can fall victim to one of those dismantles. We do not lack violence, terrible accidents and other shadows, even criminals, in the days ahead. It is mostly the case for disrespecting the discipline, the simplest or the cardinal. The rudeness, a direct consequence of the lack, the economic and therefore moral mismatch of society, of those mental and behavioral malfunctions that have become enthroned in our futures, today is championed by their respects. So any call to order, however minimal, is a vaccine against the terrifying disease of neglect, rudeness, insidia and social savagery that surrounds us.
As these lines are drafted, a couple of good news runs through Cuban society. On the one hand, in order to combat one of the economic sides of our sorrows, wage increases and other measures are announced. On the other hand, the congress of the most important organization of Cuban artists and writers, UNEAC, ends. At the closing of the conclave, among other ideas, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel calls in his words to “unleash an irreconcilable battle against inculturation and indecency”.
It is impossible for all people to have a free culture or stand out for their knowledge or intellectual performance. I wish it happened, but it’s utopian to think about that possibility. However, again, thanks to my elders, I remember those gauntled guajiros and tough workers of yesteryear, how they treated you, how they were unable to drop a vulgar taco in public, how they defended the maxim of “poor but decent” as a sacred coat of blason. That gives us a very broad view of culture. Because culture also includes respecting, helping, and protecting others, beyond academic degrees or pages read. It can be illiterated and behave politely. Conversely, being educated, without being decent, is a painful and almost inhuman contrasent.
One of those anecdotes, which are repeated from the oral imaginary and no longer matter whether certain or not, comes to mind. One colleague had said years ago that in those terrible and beautiful times of the sixties or seventies, a chamber group or some classically format grouping, he traveled to intricate rural places in various provinces. One of the performances, in improvised settings, occurred in a tiny, distant baty. Faced with the stupor of the musicians, the peasant group that made up the audience, not only listened attentively to the program, but in the end they asked for great classical authors. The explanation for astonishment, my colleague smiled, was that they were in a radial silence zone. The CMBF was one of the very few stations to be heard on the site. The peasants, those illiterate, had succumbed to the charm of the great geniuses of “cultured” music and had learned to enjoy it. Anyone is sensitive to the good, no matter their academic level, if they are properly exposed, if they know it and taste it.
From culture, to its greatest meaning, that battle must finally be unleashed. Not everyone will love classical music or trova. Not everyone will understand Carpentier or Lam or Lecuona, but to be there, along with good contemporaries, available to all, is already more than vital, urgent. Of those peaks down, with no room for bad examples, there is a great river of magnificent, popular, Cuban art, which we must dust, aer and put into view. Always someone, out of curiosity at least, will want to know what that is. There will always be those who choose it for themselves. On the other hand, it comes from wonders that the decibels of intra ancestry and vulgarity come down for a while. In fact, if possible, let them turn off.
If, moreover, every day we do something as simple as fulfilling those invitations to the good that my friend asked for in her post, our neighbors will end up grateful. Even oneself will be better, because doing good illuminates the day, heals the soul and surely bounces. No good is small. As José Martí would say, in one of his wonderful letters to his friend Manuel Mercado, “the good that is sown in one part, is seed that everywhere is fruitful”. Each of these minimal seeds, sown in everyday life, would bear fruit, nobles, humans, and make our lives much better. Capitalized culture plus the minimum space of good within the daily reach of all, and for all, would create unsustainable power. In such a way, the return, or say better, the urgent reconquest of decency, would finally be in sight. Ω

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