The Overzealous Types in Cuba

Dariela Aquique

May Day in Cuba photo by Elio Delgado

To be faithful to one’s ideals or principles is noble, just as having absolute conviction in what one defends and why is commendable.  The problem begins with people become overzealous, when they act on preconceived or partisan ideas rather than reason or experience.

Such dogmatism is disastrous in interpersonal relations.  If there is no right to reply, if there is no dialogue, there won’t be communication.  Unfortunately there exist people who still persist in their intransigence.

A few days ago a group of youths made some comments (which, by the way, were quite mindless) about how they would like to live in Developed countries.  A man, who evidently didn’t understand anything about the conversation between the boys, barged into their casual conversation and called the youth no less than “ingrates.”

He continued his diatribe reminding the teenagers of the years of the Batista dictatorship: the hunger, the misery, the repression.  In short, he talked about the infinite kindness of our system and concluded with the classic message, “Everything that we are we owe to the Revolution!”

One of the boys got upset (for good reason) and the first thing he said to the veteran zealot was: “Nobody was talking to you.  Listen, the past is past; we’re talking about the present and the future.”  This gave rise to words and more words in what turned into an ugly dispute.  It finally concluded with threats like: “Watch it! I already got a good look at your faces…”

I believe that no one has the right to invade other people’s conversations, be they for or against whatever is said.  Where is the respect for privacy, the right to expression (mistaken or not)?

Imposing precepts doesn’t liven up causes.  I believe that one evil of our society has been to foment this type of action and to encourage these types of fundamentalist individuals, who are usually extremely dangerous.

People like these were the ones used for what remains a shameful episode in our memory: the “acts of repudiation” in the 1980s.  I remember like it were yesterday when people marched with signs reading “Scum,” “Lumpen,” “Bums!”; when eggs were thrown at houses as well as at people’s faces and heads; when enormous paper worms were burnt on the porches of families who they were told were “abandoning this country.”

Today Cuba has what are called “Rapid Response Brigades.”  Their ranks are swelled with people like that rancid man just mentioned.  These are people willing to go to blows with others, individuals capable of acts of physical aggression against their neighbors for nothing more than not thinking the same, or for even worse: for feeling they have the right to freely express their differences.

Fortunately they’re the minority!

3 thoughts on “The Overzealous Types in Cuba

  • People with such rigid personalities exist everywhere, but they seem to be on the wane. Rather than lecturing–or worse yet, threatening–someone who doesn’t believe as they believe, if they really believe in equality and justice they should demonstrate this through how they lead their lives. There are honest and empathetic people everywhere; we know who they are by the way they lead their lives, not merely by what they say. In the end, those who are selfish and solipistic construct their own special hell here on earth. I once knew a woman (now passed on) who always believed the best in people. Sometimes she would be taken advantage of, but for the most part those she helped along life’s journey repaid her by passing on her goodness to others when they had the opportunity. Even though I live in a small town, when she passed on she had touched so many lives that there was standing room only at her memorial service in the largest church in town and, during the service, there were many heart-felt testimonials and colorful stories. I thought: “Now there was a life well lived!” On the other hand, perhaps we should have some compassion for those who are trapped in such rigidity as is the person you describe. Deep down, perhaps, they are insecure in their “faith,” and when it cracks, do doubt, they will be the ones heading for Florida or Spain!

  • I live in the US in New Jersey. I was born very poor. I worked very hard, went to school and rose from the lowest class of poverty to a very comfortable middle class life. I am free to worship or not worship God. I am free to work and stay middle class or not work and become poor again. I am free to challenge anyone’s opinion without fear of violence or punishment. I am free. I hope one day Cuba will be free again. I hope one day to visit your wonderful, brave, heroic, suffering people.

  • “Imposing” precepts on other people doesn’t work. But I think we should defend our precepts. Otherwise, precepts like socialism get watered down with “may’be’ “however” or “on the one hand but on the other.”
    But in order to defend our precepts, we have to live our precepts. Too many men I’ve known, while claiming to be
    socialist, are ready to make dirty jokes about women.

    I live in the United States, in San Francisco. No doubt, many youth in Cuba believe that they could have everything
    they wanted if they came to the U.S. They are not aware of the homeless sleeping in doorways and a real unemployment rate of 20% in the U.S. It’s always easier to think that someplace is better..if we could only get there. We need socialism in the U.S., which being a rich country (for the rich!), it would not be hard to achieve a more egallitarian society. I see the problem is that Cuba has not yet reached a socialist society and now exists in a shadowland between capitalism and socialism.
    in a shadowland between capitalism and socialism.

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