By Paula Henriquez

Kids in Havana about to share a pizza. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Have you ever thought about where people’s lack of empathy, respect and so many other values come from, today? I’m not criticizing our youth for their particular tastes, which are extravagant a lot of the time, nor am I against evolution or progress. I am talking about the growing alienation that lies in wait for us, and has nothing to do with specific age groups, race or beliefs.

A person described as “marginal” is someone “who belongs to or is on the fringe (extremity or brink of something). It is used to refer to a person or a social group. People living or acting outside of society’s norms, whether it’s of their own free will or something beyond their power.”

It’s true that the environment we grow up in has a lot to do with who we are and what we do. However, it’s also true that you can’t use such reasons as an excuse to justify behavior that isn’t fitting with the norms of society, regardless of whether the system is authoritarian or not.

It’s not what one might think

To give you an example, we could look at poverty and being dirty and the opposite. They don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. A poor person doesn’t exactly have to be dirty and a well-to-do person doesn’t have to be clean. Just like we don’t always find an ignorant people in a poor country with a certain political system, we also find ignorant people in the richest countries, with “superior” political systems supposedly. I can give you countless examples.

The point I want to make is that a lack of values isn’t always because there has been a failed political system, or the material shortages this can lead to. My parents come from the countryside, from huts with earthen floors, of walking about barefoot in the fields. However, they had a solid upbringing. Their parents instilled moral values and respect for others in them. In the same way, I have seen many people raised in most favorable conditions you can imagine, and they don’t have a sliver of these characteristics I’m talking about.

There’s something more going on. Something that has more to do with our inner being, our nature. I’m not an idealist though, nor a spiritualist. I’m not blind. It’s true that we live in a country where everything is in shortage. And where it is getting increasingly harder to find the basic essentials to get by.

Key factors

But this doesn’t mean that I’m going to raise my 7-year-old daughter poorly because of it. It doesn’t mean that everything that I believe in and what my parents taught me is going to cave in. No, my daughter knows right from wrong. She also knows what she can and can’t have. Likewise, she also knows that she can’t get what she doesn’t have by stealing or something of the sort. Or… you can, but that it’s wrong and so she won’t do it. This is the question at hand.

It’s about education, ethical and moral principles… the ones we inherit from our parents and their parents, or not, and so on.

I know that many of you will say that my daughter might decide to continue her life in another place one day. If that happens, I will be the first to encourage her to spread her wings and get to know everything I maybe couldn’t. I’ll be the first to help her do this, to look for a better life, if that’s what she wants.

The one thing I am sure about is that, if she does, it will be based upon the sacrifice and long paths she will have trodden. Without taking advantage of others, much less hurting others. Then, we, her parents, will know that we raised her with the best possible values, regardless that this country is rife with shortages and flaws. That day, we will be proud.

Read more posts by Paula Henriquez.


Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

One thought on “The Alienation that Lies in Wait

  • If ever there was more in need today to Create that Positive out Look on a young persons Life & Future Choices. inspire & there will be Hope.

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