What I Would Have Liked to Hear the Pope Say in Cuba

Erasmo Calzadilla

Cuba dió la bienvenida al papa Francisco. Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES — Dear brothers and sisters, the crisis that scourges civilization today is without a doubt a crisis of consciousness. Material developments such as finding an ideal energy source, eliminating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, halting the growth of populations and changing the prevailing social model shall not be enough to overcome it.

All of these problems are interrelated and are the symptoms of a greater predicament. Should we solve any individual issue (the energy one, for instance, through the mastery of nuclear fusion), we would face a worse problem in the blink of an eye. When we dared change our social model, a system worse than or as bad as the previous came along.

Fixing a given problem by doing more of the same and doing so more intensely is retreating in a forward direction. In a finite and nearly exhausted world like ours, doing this is surest path to failure. We must stop and change our model. We have to move beyond the state of adolescence humanity is in.

I use the word “adolescence” with the utmost respect for those who are going through this stage, as this is the time in life in which the body develops but the mind lags behind – and this is what appears to be happening to us. The eyes of the soul open, the quasi-Christian Socrates used to say, when those of the body begin to fail.

I do not believe this is anyone’s fault. I do not believe a handful of sinister conspirators took advantage of the media to produce a mass of compulsive consumers and brainless followers of charismatic leaders. No, from my point of view, it is a coming-of-age crisis, a natural step in humanity’s development, the absurd extension of the idea of humanity that blossomed in the Renaissance.

For the Renaissance man, the world was a kind of boundless garden where he could run about and curiously pry into everything, a universe full of beings that dominate and conquer without the slightest remorse.

For a very long time, we believed the Renaissance had been a great step towards liberation, humanity’s return to the light after many years of darkness, ridding ourselves definitively of the burden represented by a belief in a transcendent awareness that keeps watch over us. Now is the time to finally understand that it wasn’t so simple, that the Earth is not our playground but a vital domain to which we are profoundly linked. It is time to realize that there is a spiritual connection between beings and that this transcendent awareness is always there, even if we choose to ignore it.

In the course of five centuries, the strapping young lad of the Renaissance has become a slacker. He has already drunk the amniotic fluid and wants to continue the good life. He’s already shat all over the womb but, instead of cleaning up after himself, he wants to head off to another planet to conquer and contaminate. This brat is willing to do anything save grow up. Luckily, there are no planets to pillage and plunder nearby.

To mature psychologically doesn’t appear that hard. We need not become Yogis, monks, mystics, saints, or practitioners of Toltec rituals, faithful followers of Jesus Christ or another great spiritual teacher. It would suffice to check our compulsion to consume and grow economically. It would suffice to think and act with a bit of secular common sense, as the earthly is divine as well.

But no, even that seems too complicated for us. Capitalist inertia is unbreakable and the collective mind offers no signs of being mature enough to overcome it.

If we continue down this road, soon we will come to a crossroads: leaping towards adulthood or retreating to ignorance and brutality.

Long live freedom, anarchy and free sex. Amen.

Oh, and please don’t forget to pray for me.

2 thoughts on “What I Would Have Liked to Hear the Pope Say in Cuba

  • The average Cuban lives (or exists) on 33 cents per day. Others in this world struggle to exist on $2 per day. Cubans are not restricted to 33 cents per day by capitalism which is opposed by their totalitarian communist/socialist dictatorial regime. Cubans owe their poverty to the application of socialist theory.
    You should be glad to know Erasmo that anarchy is represented in these pages. Those of us who have read the contributions of the anarchist understand that academia encourages creative thought, but can fail in that endeavor.
    The walls of academia can constrict, both physically and mentally. Academics may in consequence pontificate and quote various publications about specific matters without any actual experience of the reality. We who read and contribute to the Havana Times have recognised that this applies to some contributors, but perhaps fail in our endeavors when trying to educate them even while recognising that they have fairly high IQ.

  • Your state of mind on the world is completely understandable.
    It is a mess with half the 7 billion humans struggling to exist on US$2.00 per day .
    That all comes to a rather fast halt within 15-20 years when automation drives capitalism to its demise.
    When the smarter-than-human machines are doing every job better than humans , the human race will have an abundance of everything necessary for not just life but for a golden age of humanity.
    No jobs for humans will kill capitalism .
    President Obama has launched a program to develop a 100 petaflop computer array within two years .
    The human brain operates at 1000 petaflops ( peta=quadrillion, flops =floating operations per second)
    Moore’s Law dictates a doubling of computer speed every 18 months .
    That means a 100 PF array by 2017 will translate into a human level computer by around 2023 .
    Once we reach that point , the super-smart AI will begin to develop the means to eliminate all unnecessary and unwanted human labor and the owners of every business will race to get these cheaper and better workers to replace their expensive and inferior human workers.
    I am currently on my seventh book on the subject of an automated future but recommend Martin Ford’s “Rise Of The Robots: Technology and The Threat of A Jobless Future” as the best book for those just beginning to understand what the book’s title indicates.
    While it covers the technologies quite well, it is a fairly easy read for those not well versed in tech talk.
    In short, Erasmo, yes, things are bad with few evident signs of serious improvement coming anytime soon.
    I find a great many people in my environment to be generally depressed about life in general and I remain one of the very few with an optimistic view of the future .
    It helps greatly to know why things are the way they are, the history of things which enables an ability to predict the future with some assurance .
    IMO once you truly understand where AI is going and, more importantly, how fast it is progressing, it becomes difficult to dwell on the negatives of the past and present and increasingly easy to look forward to that golden age of humanity.
    IMO we will go through the worst of times before we get to the best of times
    To quote Marxist Antonio Gramsci on his thinking of another era but thinking that really applies to the now :
    “The old world is dying and the new world struggles to be born .
    Now is the time of monsters”

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