By Lien Estrada (La Hora de Cuba)
HAVANA TIMES – I have a good friend who I always used to enjoy sharing things with, as long as we didn’t talk about politics. We agreed that we would do our best not to talk about the subject because we didn’t know how to have a calm and healthy conversation about it, and whenever we did, we ended up feeling resentful for a little while.
During one of those never-ending and unfortunate heated debates, she defended her opinion that our country was one of the best human projects to be born not only in our America, but quite possibly in the entire world. I questioned her because, quite frankly, this political/economic/social experiment hasn’t done me a lot of good.
I wasn’t proud about having been born and living in Cuba, and I dreamed about places where opinions didn’t turn into threats or reasons to terrorize those who formulated them.
She had other arguments, which also made sense, and replied that the freedom we understand doesn’t exist anywhere else, it’s just an ideal that exists in our minds, not real like we would like it to be; and that she continued to choose our country above any other. It was her right to defend what she believes, just like every human being has this right.
However, after years of not seeing one another, we ran into each other recently and were both happy to see each other again. We celebrated with a bottle of wine, and of course we wanted to catch up on everything that had happened in this time and we asked about each other’s families. I was surprised to hear that her brother had managed to get a contract in Mexico as a musician, and as things didn’t work out very well, he asked her what to do: go back to Cuba or cross over the border, not with Latin America, but with the US, as we well know.
My friend’s answer, which I have to admit left me gobsmacked, was: go to the US. She immediately gave me her reasons, which sounded familiar, but familiar or not, I couldn’t get over the shock I had. Years ago, wasn’t this the country with one of the best national projects in the world? Our Cuba? So, how could she tell her brother to leave “the best national project” and go to one that left a lot to be desired, according to her?
It had been a long time since my friend and I had seen each other, and because we hold each other dear, I didn’t pick too much at her argument, so I chose to talk about literature, poetry and love, Christianity and Buddhism, and anything else.
We bid each other farewell. I thanked her for her visit, from the bottom of my heart, and we wished each other well, hoping to see each other again soon, with good news always.
I console myself with the thought that she didn’t leave, unlike many Cubans who once said they would never leave and then end up going, and others who haven’t left for good, but never stay in this country because of work commitments, etc.
Writing about this encounter now, and about her suggestion to her brother to choose to live in a “consumerist and dehumanizing” society, instead of one that she always said was one where “we tried to do build one of the best countries where we and our children could live full lives.” I must admit that my friend’s remark still torments me.
How many people tell me to do one thing, and they go and do the exact opposite? How many people have I argued with, naively thinking that they believe and practice what they preach, when they defend something that they might not be experiencing, but it suited them to defend it at that time? How many leaders and colleagues have I believed, who wouldn’t want the same fate to befall even their pet dog?
I imagine that the answer is that humans are circumstantial beings, and we have the right to think what we like in any given moment. Me and my circumstance, like Ortega y Gasset once wrote.
Sometimes, it’s very hard to be coherent with what we think, feel and do. And, it’s even harder to admit when we are wrong, when we fail to be coherent. Both require a dose of courage.