Proverbial Truths

Dariela Aquique

Prostitution to live better.

I definitely like proverbs for explaining certain matters; they intrinsically possess a gift for illustrating the essence of any situation.

“Necessity is the mother of all invention” or “Misery breeds misery.” These two belong to the same family of short definitions that explain the subversion of the system of adopted values, or — as a consequence — economic shortages.

Clearly I don’t give absolute credibility to these phrases, because I believe that the values of the individual cannot depend on material aspects alone, but a series of precepts and habits of conduct ingrained from childhood.  These relate more strictly to the family environment (where the home is the first school) than to the broader social context.  In any case, these two entities: family-society, and vice versa, constantly interact, since one is the foundation of the other.

It is evident that Third World countries experience higher levels of poverty, marginalization, prostitution, violence, gambling, drug addiction and other vices.  However, the grand metropolises of the First World do not escape this reality, where the statistics in this respect are also surprising.

Our country — in the middle of an economic embargo, without great natural wealth and because of other things that I don’t want to refer to — is in fact immersed in underdevelopment, which causes us to be the daily witnesses of an abrupt subversion of values.

Maybe I’m somewhat romantic and consider this “loss” only a pretext for the absence of values.  If an individual considers themselves capable of progressing in life, despite the precariousness and deprivation, they would not appeal to dishonorable means.

I’ve seen youths in our streets snatch garments, a video camera and a wallet from tourists.  I’ve seen women prostitute themselves for a better quality of life.  I’ve seen people enrich themselves on the sale of drugs.  I’ve heard about leaders and corrupt managers who commit major acts of embezzlement and live comfortably off such theft and the misappropriation of resources.  I’ve heard mothers tell their barely teenage daughters: “Get out there and make some cash…!”

This reality is depressing; the times are convulsive, and the proverbs cease being mere proverbs as they are transformed into concrete life.  But I remember other ones that are more just and possible: “One can be poor, but decent.”  Likewise, there is another one that, more than a phrase or proverb, was a brilliant saying by the greatest of all Cubans, our own Jose Marti:  “Poverty passes, but what doesn’t is dishonor.”