I’m Like That

Alfredo Fernandez

Photo: Mauro D´Agati

I become outraged; all there needs to be is someone who doesn’t think like me for that to happen.  That’s how I am, since almost none of us who live in Cuba engage in dialogue.

What’s more, when there is an opinion that is different from mine, I see the person who expresses this as mistaken and demonstrating a lack of respect. In such situations, I lose my temper and react angrily. Though I never get physical, I silence anyone who dares contradict me.

All this, which is quite ugly, defines me as a modern-day Cuban.  Here, after five decades of Revolution, we have ended up losing all capacity to listen and understand other points of view that are not our own.  That’s why my first response to any criticism is primitive, automatically assuming the observation made of me to be unjust.

This is justified even more if I say that this was my attitude several days ago in my entry “I Don’t Want To Be an Aspirin,” in which I commented about how critical Cubans are —in private— concerning the country’s situation, and how they then act as if everything’s fine.

That commentary was responded to by a reader, Grok, who branded me a “foolish sellout of my homeland.”  Months earlier, my attitude had been one of tolerance in my essay “When You Won’t Talk to Me,” in which I commented on how people in Cuba are afraid to grant interviews to the non-official media.

Regarding that entry, one can read where another reader, Conner, said this was due more to my bad journalism, which prevents me from posing good questions, than to the existence of an actual situation of self-censorship among Cubans.

Thanks to Havana Times, a new dimension was born within my character: one of toleration and even acceptance of opinions different from mine.  People in Cuba rarely say what they think, and much less are they critical.  That’s why when this is done, it’s difficult to accept.

Even with this being the case, I wanted to make it clear to the Stalinist Grok that concerning what he refers to as Cuba, I’ve never been or will be “a fool, and much less a sellout of the nation.”  While at the same time, I accept Conner’s opinion that I’m far from being a good journalist.

4 thoughts on “I’m Like That

  • And complaining is indeed daunting at times but it helps alleviate the burden of reality and shows that people want to entrust you with their thoughts that they would not necessarily want to share with the rest of the universe. I see it as a privilege and sign of respect but then again, I see your point and there are always limits to empathy!! 🙂

  • If someone were to accuse me of “foolish sellout of my homeland”, I would be pretty furious and probably won’t want to listen further, either. The same applies to the comment of “being a bad journalist”. To me this sounds like a slightly unhelpful comment that doesn’t necessarily offer a point of view, but is there to provoke. I guess it’s important to pick one’s battles, no disrespect to the audience. I have been following Havana Times since I’ve returned from Cuba in January this year and I think you have a fabulous group of talented journalists and I love reading your thought provoking essays. I wish I had known about you before I actually went!

  • Hey Alfredo,

    I’m like that, too. When I was younger, I used to ‘get physical’ all the time. Lost a couple of friends because of over-heated discussions, too.
    Down here in Brazil there’s a saying: “you just don’t talk about politics, football or religion’… those subjects are touchy because faith is always involved.

  • I have to be honest. This is something that drove me crazy in Cuba. That so many people were more than willing to offer their opinions on a whole host of subjects. But if you were to ever disagree with them a miniature war would break out. Although, I do think that when writing a blog people need to understand that first of all you are not a “journalist” per say. You are simply recording your observations about everyday life in Cuba. There are some people on Havana Times who present themselves as “journalists” or academics and others who are every day people blogging about their life. There is a difference that I feel is obvious. I think that sometimes people level criticisms like the one Conner did when they disagree with the premise of your article or your politics but don’t wish to address them politically, so they resort to simple stylistic criticisms (obviously your not a journalist). As for the Stalinist, you will never make them happy, so its best to ignore them.

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