Screaming in a Vacuum

Irina Echarry

God is Love. Photo: Irina Echarry

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.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

2 thoughts on “Screaming in a Vacuum

  • “Freedom of religion” is one of the great legal accomplishments of what we call the bourgeois revolution against feudalism. It is a legal right based on a human right.

    I think what is most important about the man you heard screaming, Irina, is that authentic socialist society must guarantee him the civil right to believe as he sees fit, and to advocate these beliefs before others.

    Yes, this civil rights even means screaming bible wavers and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  • I can’t help but thinking that two millenia ago the original Christus went about his proselytizing in a very different manner; otherwise his teachings would not have lasted so long, nor had such profound influences. Even He (or he) allowed doubt to enter his mind, as indicated by the final appeal to his “Father.” I think you are right, Irina: deeper spiritualality begins–and ends–with questions, and not with answers, whether the “religion” is Christianity, Budhism, Islam–or Socialism!

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