More for the Sake of Civility in Cuba

Photo: Caridad

By Amrit

HAVANA TIMES, March 19 — Due to my almost non-existent internet access (a distressing condition), I’ve had no dialogue with you, the readers of my articles, though I always appreciate your attention and comments.

Thanks to the editor of Havana Times, I receive those comments by e-mail, and on more than a few occasions they have stirred up mental images in me. However, because of those same restrictions on my online access, I seldom get to post my thoughts here on the website.

Nevertheless, this time I would like to dedicate a few words that were prompted by the comments to my writing titled “Civility Threatened in Cuba.” I think that because of my insistence on talking about what I call “the need to depoliticize,” this has created the impression that I’m refusing to realize that calling for de-politicization is in itself a political position, or it’s showing an apolitical stance.

As my colleague Isbel Diaz Torres wrote:

“Politics is a natural aspect of human beings. Those who write here [in Havana Times] are talking about politics even though we might be referring to coffee or to the national ballet, even though we don’t want to call what we’re discussing “politics.” The opposite interpretation would be to commit the sin of naiveté. Now, in recognizing our political practices in daily life, in accepting that certain fixed and outdated conceptual Orthodox canons manipulate our thinking, we have gone a long way. To realizing that this is manipulation is in itself a political action and to state this publically, is that much more…”

It is inevitable that we all perceive the world from our subjectivity and that we shape our philosophies through the knowledge that we choose through identification and that we test through experience.

In my case, I would like to clarify that I don’t consider politics as an end but as a condition — an inevitable one right now — for most humans.

It’s true that in Havana Times we’re talking about politics, even when we comment on a movie or a ballet performance, for example. It’s true that we Cubans need a transformation that involves politics and I believe that this is in fact happening.

The blogosphere, the alternative cultural movement and even the comments from people on the street are tangible indicators of this transformation.

But I also believe that Cubans, and by extension all of humanity, need and deserve more than this. Politics is the state of polarization, of dissent and debate through which one hopes to build dialogue, because present civilization knows no other means of exchanging thoughts. But these do exist.

Although it seems like a utopia less likely to occur than communism, I know that human beings can reach a state of consciousness in which it is possible to objectively connect with the universe and cooperate with it. This state cannot be called politics, because it transcends that.


What we know as history (national or international) is plagued with political conflicts, wars, more or less successful attempts at civility and more wars. However, there have been individuals and even groups that have lived beyond these conflicts in a state of awareness that transcends any polarization and confrontation.

Of course, these people rarely move in a political context. Their lives go unnoticed in carefully archived histories of upheavals and scandals.

Some appear as almost political figures, like Jesus, because his teachings challenged the most powerful empire in the West of those times. There was also a backlash against those who followed him then, as there are still reactions against any philosophy that is truly profound.

Today, though, these reactions are limited to commercial campaigns that distort mysticism, spreading only its exotic aspect, packaging it as one of a horde of pseudo-philosophies which all fit under the nondescript term “New Age.”

Or we can pass them through the filter of materialist analysis, which of course only proposes and revalidates the materialistic thesis.

Photo: Caridad

Unfortunately, Christianity erected one of the most powerful political phenomena over the course of many centuries: the Catholic Church. But I’m not sure how many Christians know that Jesus — far from recommending to his disciples to structure their spirituality based on written precepts (such as the legendary Bible) — said to them: “Do not seek the law (truth) in books, because the law is alive while what is written is dead…”

The case of Shamas Tabrez, a Middle Eastern mystic who was sentenced to death by public flogging — and in circumstances that might have been called “political” — is virtually unknown, which demonstrates that this situation of relevance in history can be very relative.

Surely his own disciple Maulana Rumi wouldn’t be known either if he hadn’t left such admirable poetry.

But the real legacy of those people was the possibility of unity and reconciliation of all human beings, not as a metaphor but as a fact based on the verification that unity that now exists and is inherent in us, beyond any sophisticated conceptualization in the mental sphere.

When Europeans discovered and wiped out the Aztec empire, of their religion they only saw bloody sacrifices to deities that terrify us still today. But parallel to those practices that sought to avert the most instinctive fears and that were also manipulations of political power, there were also people who maintained the pure spiritual tradition and lived in a state of wholeness, which is barely outlined in the writings of the poet Nezahualcoyotl.

That legacy exists and is available for those who want to delve deeply into that search.

There are testimonies about aboriginal societies whose members did not lie, about how they spontaneously shared everything they had and faced diseases with particular methods that reveal a great knowledge of the workings and laws of the human body.

They do not need technological means to communicate with each other because they do it through telepathy. They don’t involve themselves with political concepts like multi-party systems, nor would they call what they have “democracy.”

They merely live by what they consider their spiritual nature and they zealously preserve this standard of living and its influences on “civilization.”

I think there have been proposals for change that were not designed from a political approach, such as in 1957 with the foundation of the World Fellowship of Religions in India, and the “First Conference on Unity of Man,” which took place in Delhi in 1974.

Both events were coordinated by one of the most emblematic spiritual leaders who ever lived, Kirpal Singh, a name that means nothing to most of us, though also attending the conference was Indira Gandhi, one of the politicians with whom we are all familiar.

And there is the case of Mother Teresa, who recommended accepting governments like sailors inevitably accept the weather, focusing on what she could objectively do for the most vulnerable.

In accordance with the materialistic education that we receive, in both capitalist and “socialist” countries (and even in the countries where there remain fundamentalist religions where a long time ago they lost the inner knowledge that originated them), politics is indeed a necessity that only confirms that we are still within that limit.

But that is neither my goal nor what I would like to consciously promote.

That’s why I prefer to say, consciously, “de-politicization,” though it sounds naive.

I’ve seen how writings that speak about true conciliation don’t generate reader comments. They pass by “unnoticed” like those people to whom I referred because fragmentation and debate are much more exciting to the human mind.

No wonder there are so many jokes about heaven, such a paradise is too boring.