That Which Costs Us Nothing…

Dariela Aquique 

Street of Santiago de Cuba.

When I wrote the entry “Nothing’s Perfect,” the objective was only to point out certain objectionable attitudes of some young people relative to their disregard for places created for public enjoyment and recreation.

Responding to my assessment, a friend made the emphatic suggestion not to leave out an important aspect of this seemingly local situation.  He told me:

… a young person without concrete opportunities in the present or the future, in whatever city of the world, will lack a sense of identification with such urban renovations.  Their often non-organized protests usually take the form of graffiti and committing other acts of vandalism.  In these and others ways they demonstrate that they weren’t consulted or taken into account in the decisions as to how to invest public resources… 

I immediately saw here the subject for another commentary.  Cuban youth have very unique characteristics that make them different from the rest of the youth in the world.  Different from other societies, where youths and any other groups manifest themselves destructively as a way to reject some policy or concrete events.

I don’t believe that such objectives in Cuba have reached these levels of awareness.  To the contrary, they may instead translate themselves as an expression of distancing.  It cannot be said that our youth don’t have opportunities, they have them in terms of opportunities and access to education, but Cuban youth lack economic opportunities.

Right now we’re in the presence of a nascent group with higher standards of living than others.  While this marks certain social differences, it is not a phenomenon on such a wide scale for these disparities to be notably in absolute terms.

I don’t believe that there exists such a level of exclusion here that there are places that are seen as only being for some and not for others.  I believe this type of attitude is the result of indifference to what they consider doesn’t belong to them.  If someone points this out to them, they would have a ready answer: “This isn’t yours and it’s not mine either.”

The overwhelming majority of the places here are not private.  Social property makes things everyone’s but ultimately nobody’s.  This can be verified easily in how private properties are maintained, where owners zealously take care of these and won’t allow access to misbehaving characters.

I think the disrespect for public property stems from the absence of laws and regulations that put into practice prohibitions or sanctions against these actions.  It’s poor formal education that begins at home and ends in the school.  I believe this is a manifestation of being uncultured, the result of laziness and the non-existence of rules of courtesy, those that I’ve made reference to on more than one occasion.

Cuban education instructs but it doesn’t educate.  It turns out people with certain cultural information but individuals who are not cultured.  To succeed at this is a personal decision, one that depends on the context, clearly, and to questions that I at least don’t have the answers to; or, like my grandmother would say, “that which costs us nothing…”

One thought on “That Which Costs Us Nothing…

  • Don’t feel sorry for vandals & I wont feel sorry for thieves or violent people,

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