By Regina Cano
I had the luck of finding out in time about the “Nonviolence Day” activity, the first such homage ever organized in Havana.
Its date, October 2, has been recognized around the world since 2000, but -as occasionally happens- we Cubans didn’t find out in time.
That day is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, and through this the celebration points to one of the undertakings of this great person.
Fate brought to the hands of writer Veronica Perez Vega a magazine where this event was mentioned. She therefore took on the task of pulling together a group of people sensitive to the issue. That was how the activity was initiated. She and her friends and comrades organized the homage at a Vedado neighborhood cultural center.
Called “Ahimsa” (from the a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm – literally: the avoidance of violence), the activity’s invitees included Gabriel Calaforra, who is a professor of eastern culture and languages; Pimentel, a yoga instructor; as well as environmentalists, animal rights advocates, those who defend the rights of obese people through their dancing, visual artists (who provided their works for an exhibition there), left activists, journalists, poets, and theater people – in short, people who were leaving their imprint in spiritual as well as critical thought through this first activity.
The entire select group that reflected a percentage of the Havana population that lives, thinks and feels differently, hidden among the great “masses.”
This small event brought us a great deal hope, because -like in other parts of the world- violence marks our lives, perhaps due to limited resources and overcrowding.
These are occurrences that the multitudes experience daily: catching public transportation, buying food, purchasing a postage stamp, making a call on a public telephone or going to see a doctor. All these acts build up pressure that impact on you more frequently than you would like and are evidenced in our manner of speaking, walking and even dancing.
Increasingly, we are a people without the inner peace necessary to discover ways to solve our own problems, beginning with the personal and family environment.
I suppose that to turn the parable upside-down, and to make a 180 degree change requires a long re-learning process, which sounds crazy if one proposes to apply this to an entire people; it’s almost impossible. But I assure you that to practice nonviolence could be the principle and could mean a great change in the lives of everyone – even yours.
This is why I believe that what happened on October 2 was important and that it should continued. I hope that it continues to achieve what it is aiming for: gathering people around a goal that will allow us all a better life.