By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Cubans suffer from pathological fear. It isn’t the natural fear that protects humans from the real dangers that Nature poses. It is a toxic fear, because it makes them subject themselves and be led by the flock so they can be sheared like the docile sheep they are. It’s an emotion that robs them of their dignity and clouds their judgement, stopping them from acting like free, responsible and mature beings. It is the enemy of happiness.
Many people dare to criticize those in power, and when they do, it’s in whispers while their eyes dart this way and that to check there aren’t any spies about because “you never know who anyone truly is.” Occasionally, it would seem that they begin to overcome their fear with isolated acts that end up being little more than a swan song in a dying national spirit.
However, even though there are only a handful of these incidents, there are examples of brave people who pass by unknown. Like an old high school friend, who was a Jehovah’s Witness. A noble young man, of few words, very proper.
Due to the faith his parents had raised him in, he didn’t use the handkerchief around his neck or take part in “revolutionary activities”. Even he couldn’t explain the reason for this. According to him, these things were just unacceptable in his Faith. This led to quite a few problems. He was called into the Principal’s office on more than one occasion.
From what he told me about those meetings, I could deduce that there had been threats, repudiation, attempts to manipulate and brainwash his teenage mind, but I could especially sense his fear.
A deeply-rooted fear in the soul of someone who exercises their freedom of conscience (regardless of how wrong his dogma was or not, or the beliefs his family had raised him with) and puts a target on their back to be repressed.
A fear which sometimes made me step away from our friendship. I was afraid of being associated to such an outcast. However, Castillo (let’s call him that for now) stood firm in his decision, and he taught me something in one way or another, that you can live with fear and better yet: overcome it.
I wanted to be like him, brave, but like anybody else, I have always had this fear.
How couldn’t I when I had seen acts of repudiation through my 5-year-old eyes, watching people be attacked and helpless against all kinds of insults and even beatings from a degenerate and good-for-nothing mob that has been manipulated by those in power? If I had been indoctrinated at school to believe that going against the ruling ideology was to be a worm, to be a sellout, traitor and ungrateful?
So, that fear still lived inside of me. Like a demon that would show itself all garish sometimes, and curled up other times, but always biting my tongue, tying my hands when making decisions. Until I slowly began to exorcize him, over the years.
It is an enemy that lies in wait for me, today. I run into him when I see so many snitches around me, so many shameless, opportunistic and criminal people around me, and there is quite a few I’m sad to say, but it’s the same old story, just with a different face. Whenever this happens, I feel like I want to shrivel up and disappear. Then, as a last resort, I appeal to Dignity to help me get the demon out.