The World Doesn’t Have Extremes

Veronica Vega

Illustration by Yasser Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — Even though the Earth being round has been proven for centuries now, even though both adults and children know or intuitively know what a circle is: integration, a whole, an infinite… the human mind has the uncontrollable need to see things as divisions: black or white, good or bad, right or left.

According to Wikipedia:

“The term Left-wing politics is used to describe political positions that group those whose main focus is to defend social equality, in the face of Right-wing politics that believes social differences are inevitable, normal or natural.

Both terms were coined in the election that took place on July 14th 1789 at the National Constituent Assembly which was born as a result of the French Revolution. The draft of an article in the new Constitution, in which the king’s absolute veto of approved laws by the future Legislative Assembly, was being discussed. Legislators who were in favor of the proposal, which meant the monarch’s absolute powers were still kept intact, sat together on the president of the Assembly’s right side. Those who were against it, and stood up for the king only having a limited form of a suspensive vote, thereby putting national sovereignty above royal authority, sat together on the president’s left hand side.

That’s how the term “Left” is associated with political movements that advocate for political and social change, while the term “Right” is still associated with those who oppose these changes.”

Life shows us that anything physical is subject to change, that emotions alter just as ideas and concepts do. That our perception of reality is conditioned by many different factors, many of which are subjective, and so what we call the “truth” is really super relative.

Maybe there is a duality that comes from the rotation of interpreting reality according to whether it dominates the left or right hemisphere. And that’s why there has been the age-old battle between the soul and reason. I believe that all dichotomies could be extensions of this contradiction. Humankind travels through experience, matures with blows and pain. There isn’t any other way.

Nevertheless, there is a single, intangible truth that we all share as our essence. And there is always a truth when it comes to facts. For example, in a court. Aside from what some people saw and felt, there’s the facts of what actually happened. And this is something that we try to demonstrate with evidence and witnesses.

In Cuba, this binary simplification has been a serious impediment to our development. We have received an education that is founded on unconditionally accepting an ideology. The truth was (and for many people continues to be) whatever the government and official media said, it doesn’t matter whether it seems Leftist or Rightist.

Condemning a truism can get you into serious trouble. Even if there has been an unspoken agreement about the cause of the system’s dysfunctional behavior, if this is mentioned in public, the general reaction can be very unfavorable.

For example, I remember how, at a neighborhood meeting with the local representative that I went to, those who were putting things forward or giving important opinions, had noted that they were Party (PCC) leaders or members at the beginning.

I asked what that had to do with the complaint, as we all see and suffer from what’s bad in society. Of course, the mention was self-defense, but it overruled the soundness of other proposals.

Nobody should have to say who or what they are in order to legitimize a grounded opinion. And the same thing happens with the Left-Right political dichotomy. False dichotomy, I will dare to say, because everyone is talking about the same world they want to improve.

Not too long ago, I heard a Spanish YouTuber say:

“Nordic countries have already been 70 years without obssessing over whether it’s: left or right, or whether it’s socialism or capitalism. They’ve gotten beyond that. They simply assess whether it works for them or not, and they act as a result. Meanwhile, judging by the comments I read on a daily basis for almost a decade, we, my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters, are still in the prehistoric age … (of Politics).”

Humans only think according to what they experience, that’s true. For example, going back to Cuba: how can you convince a high-ranking official or public servant, or somebody who receives generous remittances, that survival is tough and that there isn’t enough money to change a tap, fix a roof that is falling on top of us, or replace a termite-infested window or door?

Putting wages against real prices. Walking down the street. Doing anonymous surveys. The truth is what you can see with your own two eyes or what can be proven because it exists, it happens.

How do you convince someone that a Left or Right proposal is the right one? Putting it to the test. And if it fails, it doesn’t have to remain in force because someone in particular put it forward. Solutions don’t need to be personalized. Nor do they need to be stained with ideology.

The Right-Left debate is creating fruitless confrontations, more pain and a stalemate.

One of the most profound reflections I have read about the subject comes from writer Ernesto Sabato, in his book “Before the End”. Sabato embodies a convinced Communist who exposed himself and his family to danger and imprisonment. And even though his political beliefs changed over time, he never stopped worrying about the fate of the poor. This final work is infused with this uncertainty.

“Maybe, because of my anarchist background, I have always been a kind of lone sniper, belonging to this class of writers who Camus noted: «By definition he [the writer] cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it». Writers need to be an incorruptible witness of their time, with courage to tell the truth, to stand up to all pro-government political forces who, blinded by their interests, lose sight of the sanctity of human life. (…) It’s a long path ahead: the powerful will label anyone a Communist for demanding justice for the defenseless and hungry; the Communists will label him a reactionary for demanding freedom and respect for himself. He will live torn and hurt by this great duality, but he will need to keep standing no matter what.

If he doesn’t, the history of times to come will have all the reason in the world to accuse him of having betrayed the most precious aspect of the human condition.”

I’m sure that Cuba’s experience is already enough to find a path that can make Marti’s dream (“for all and for the well-being of all Cubans”) a reality without committing itself to any “-ism” and only using what works, ignoring parts of the world that only check minds and maps. This is because they are a part of the planet’s roundness and reality’s complex nature, just like our existence in its thousands of year’s history.

Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.