By Gaby Rabassa
HAVANA TIMES — Only three figures -and not fictional ones- are enough to draw a picture of modern day Cuban reality: a drunk man, an old lady and an arrogant young woman. It sounds like this has been taken out of a story, but it’s real.
It all started when an old lady who could just about get by herself, had to shout and ask to sit down on a seat which has been assigned to the elderly by law on the bus, a P-5 to be exact.
Other passengers who were comfortably sitting and who also have physical handicaps were aware, concerned, however they couldn’t stand up because they also find themselves in the same situation.
A young woman who was completely unfazed, was sitting in the yellow-painted seat which she should have to give up in these cases.
A drunk man got onto the bus, who filled the atmosphere with his scent from the very moment he stepped onto it. He shouted about his clothes being dirty because he works the land, about coming from Oriente, among other things. When he realizes what’s going on, in spite of his drunkenness, he holds onto the old lady who is still standing along with the typical P5 crowd at rush hour and says:
“Humanity has been lost, Mrs.!”
The last thing I saw was another old man, with a walking stick and handicapped too, stand up to give his own seat to the old lady.
Nobody said a word, not even the girl who sat in the wrong seat and who didn’t give it up no matter how much the old lady was asking for it. Nobody gave their opinion, except the drunk man who kept to the same subject as that which has inspired this post.
This is what I was referring to in my article “What are we missing?”, where I wasn’t trying to blame the Cuban people for the government’s mistakes, but to call upon the Cuban collective social conscience, which has been lost among all our needs which inevitably force us to think as individual beings, to protect ourselves first and foremost, when the fundamental premise is that “human beings are social beings”.
If we don’t have our humanity, what do we have left?
One of this word’s meanings: “Sensitivity, compassion, kindness towards our peers. Without mentioning the obvious meaning that connects us altogether.
When we talk about somebody who has accomplished a great feat, we brand them as “human”, when an art piece, from any artistc movement touches our core sensibility, it’s a “humanist” piece. Therefore, when we refer to the fact that we have lost our “humanity”, I believe we are talking about a very serious issue, which isn’t far from our reality and is something we definitely shouldn’t ignore, not in Cuba or anywhere else.
Problems with transport, timetables, workplaces, the government, the State can’t be stressed enough. However, if we don’t even have so much as a hint of HUMANITY…
How are we going to overcome something that insults us? How are we going to fight for our rights or how are we going to feel the need and appreciate the value of doing so?
If we lose this, this something that separates us from the rest of the Animal Kingdom… What do we have left?