Walking through the Vedado neighborhood in Havana, I heard some yelling, which without a doubt came from some human being. Though at first I thought it could be people arguing, when I looked I saw that it was some guy by himself.
I say “by himself,” but there were many people around him, because this was at the bus stop for route195 and lots of people were there waiting for their ride at that hour.
My immediate sensation was one of watching a comedy film. Everybody was laughing at this man who only hollered (perhaps at himself): “Whoever you are, Christ will save you. Say yes to Christ in the depth of your soul.”
His words were accompanied by abrupt movements, and he brandished a Bible in his right hand, as if it were a menacing whip or a stone ready to be thrown at any sinner. He was a young man stylishly dressed and his features didn’t denote a lack of mental clarity (at least seemingly).
I don’t know if it was because of the proximity of the elections, but I at once I thought about those electoral campaigns of which our grandparents or parents talk to us so much about, but that we younger Cubans know anything.
In those campaigns where there’s more than one candidate, each camp organizes activities to win supporters by proposing political platforms or social programs for when they win.
However this guy didn’t pay attention to anyone in particular, each time he was shouting in a vacuum. “If you want to know love, say yes to Christ,” he implored, shaking his arms quickly while at the same time distributing handouts explaining that only Christ loves…only Christ saves.
I stood there for a while watching how everyone was turning their back on this man, who —violently— was calling for love as if he were summoning people to mandatory military service.
I wondered: Will that approach succeed at attracting anyone? How can we love each other through violence…through imposition? How can we believe in someone who thinks they possess absolute truth? What can this person teach us, someone who no longer has to look for anything…who isn’t interested in investigating the labyrinths of humanity or in the mysteries of the universe?
I continued on my way a bit saddened. The man wasn’t campaigning for elections, though he was traveling the same path – full of the egotism with which candidates rise to power. He was pulling on the same strings of manipulation and —something very important— he was too distant from the others to know how to bring them closer to his objective, which at this point I don’t know if it was out of love or simply to scream.