I just finished carefully reading my readers’ comments to the most recent posts. I consider it a real privilege to receive so many different and intelligent criteria –at times even conflicting- that force me to go over my own opinions and sometimes to even correct my course. And among the many opinions that find echo in those who approach me with issues over which I have poured more than once in this, our virtual plaza, are those relating, directly or indirectly, to the responsibility of Cubans with respect to the current state of affairs on the Island. Civic responsibility that demands -as indicated by several readers- pride, critical sense and enough maturity to not feel attacked every time someone points at us or question us.
I fully agree with those who argue that we are also responsible for what happens in Cuba, we all are: the ones before and the ones now, those who left and those who stayed, those who did evil and those of who allowed it, the daring and the meek, those who remained silent, those who tolerated, those who betrayed, the ones looked the other way, the flatterers, the opportunists, the cowards, the mediocre, the envious, the intolerant and the condescending, those of us who clapped at times and those still cheering, even when they do not believe in the work. Dictatorships exist because there are irresponsible masses that, consciously or unconsciously, nurture and support them. They have deprived us of what we let them grab from us, whether for convenience, complicity, ingenuity, cowardice or meekness.
I already know what the most benevolent will say: that totalitarian regimes have all the power, all the resources and all the strength, that they penalize and impose themselves by terror, and that’s true too, but, how did they get all of that, and how were they able to retain it? Probably the most indulgent are going to tell me that dictators manage to prevail by manipulating the truth, deceiving the people, but how long can a bunch of crooks deceive millions of people? Hasn’t the regime itself also existed from the fruit of the labor or the silence of those who are disappointed? Who forces Cubans to participate in repudiation rallies, to march, to do volunteer work, to be members of the CDR, to participate in the so-called “elections”, to pay for a labor union that does not exist, and even to participate in invisible militias of territorial troops for a tenacious imaginary war?
The lack of civic sense of many Cubans is not a blemish born in the last 50 years. Without doubt, it has worsened in recent decades, but the germ was already present at the very genesis of the nation. Just look back on Cuban history to repeatedly find the same circus: hedonistic people that are only inspired on immediacy, eager to find a “strong man” to deal (or to pretend to deal) with state affairs so they can continue with their lives, happy and carefree. Millions of people have lived with their backs turned to the milestones of our common destiny, and at the same time, when plots are conjured, they have either escaped or were willing to applaud childishly to the flowery speech, or they have just given in. The most infamous even imitate the poses of patriotic boasting. Passion has ruled where there should have been reason. They have proceeded with vengeance where there should have been justice, and -as if all this were not enough- the constant and immediate forgetting of the past is the greatest obstacle to understanding our present and project ourselves into the future.
Not even one of us is exempt from liability, but many have not realized that the time has come to assume it. As for me, I want and I should think there is hope. I won’t require of others what I am not able to do, and I won’t stand at the barricades because I am not willing to go there myself. I do not believe in violence as a means because it often becomes an end in itself. Almost every day of my life, I sit at the keyboard and write my own impressions and experiences so I can share them, to meet with each other, and to think together. I feel I have found a path and this has made me freer, but also more accountable. I still have faith. I know that everyone, in his own way, can do something, the point is how many are willing to do so and submit to the fatigue of effort. Let’s not get more distracted by blaming each other, let’s think instead what we can each do and not what others should do. Only through changing ourselves will be able to drive changes for Cuba.