By Armando Chaguaceda
HAVANA TIMES – I have decided to end this series of columns that I’m writing during quarantine, with this one. Because quarantine seems like it’s going to go on for a while, and nobody knows for sure when it will end or what will happen afterwards.
I’d prefer a kind of retreat, an intimate moment of reflection, from what lies on the horizon. Sharing with you some quick ideas about what forms my imperfect view of the world which I believe would be desireable to live in.
I am a modern, urban man and a member of what we call the West. This is my inheritance and my borders. My possibilities and my limits. This is where my view of the world comes from, mixing memory and fate. And I’m OK with not having the definite truth or answers for every challenge Nature or fellow humans throw our way.
I believe that the individual, community and Nature need to work in harmony. And that science, free from dogmas and tyranny, is the best way to achieve this. Both in its technical sense, so we can interact with our surroundings, as well as in a social sense, which is focused on explaining and anticipating human issues.[i]
During these times of terror and prayers for protection to the Gods or national leaders, governments need to be elected and auditable, but authorized and given everything they need to rule effectively (as long as they don’t change the law to stay in power indefinitely or to suppress the opposition). Citizens should have the basic right to express themselves in speech, at the polls and in the public space. This also means they need to take the time to reflect, to be responsible and in solidarity.
Over these past few weeks, withdrawing into quarantine has not only been the best way to protect me and my family; it’s also been a way to prevent infecting others, to take care of our elderly and sick, not overburden our health system and its hardworking personnel and specialists.
Ensuring the individual enjoyment of collective goods – work, health, food, safety – is a valuable purpose of society. Without the economic and institutional means to sustain them, any appeal to live the Good Life is just empty rhetoric. Therefore, the productive sovereignty and redistribution based on solidarity between classes, families, regions and countries, organized according to public health and sustainable development criteria, should be the heart of tomorrow’s economy.
I believe that the modern Republic (liberal and of the masses) is the best, understood and perfectible way forward – and many centuries of history have proven this. So, we can have a Government of Humans and an Administration of Things, avoiding the traps of possessive individualism and unappealable authoritarianism.
I am tired of the middle class’ savage liberalism which continues to violate the healthcare pact, turning to leisure and lavish consumerism instead. Confusing any cautious and established limit of their rights to freely move and consume, in order to protect life of the community, including their own. I am reviled by the police officers that are dressing up badly as the protective father, trading off our safety for freedom. Without knowing (it’s more of a hunch) that it would be bad business if we earn some of the former, sacrificing all of the latter.
Great crises put all of the above to the test. There are no predictable endings, terrible or bright. But if we all take action and reflect, with humility above all else, we might be able to save ourselves and maybe even be somewhat happy. See you soon.