last night we gathered with friends and had a somewhat heated discussion about the state of affairs, the temperature rising at our table laden with fresh fish, vegetables and fancy, cheesy, re-baked potatoes. Aren’t WE the lucky ones to have such abundance, here in the good ol’ U.S. of A? I’m grateful. Are you? Everyday is Thanksgiving to me, not just when the calendar points to it.
when you're in the gratitude mode everything's extraordinary!
. . . instead of ordinary . . .
All six of us had spent a good bit of time living outside the country; three of us weren’t American born; two natives of oppressive Latin American governments that were really nothing more than authoritarian dictatorships; the other person was French. All of us well traveled in many areas of the globe.
The words flew fast and heavy when we began to discuss Cuba, a country five of us had recently visited, at different times and in different capacities. Two of my friends had just had their picture published, a portrait of the married pair standing in front of a mural of Che, as they grinned widely and holding a copy of their hometown newspaper: part of a special show-and-tell feature their small town paper offered to travellers.
my friends in havana
these two had lived through a lot of political unrest, suffering much painful harassment from drug cartels and government agencies alike when, for many many years, they had an organic farm deep in the mountainous jungle of Colombia. Their ordeal ended with fleeing for their lives, after finding out they were on a hit list to be “disappeared” … as many of their friends had been already–by government agencies working in cahoots with drug cartels. Unfortunately, the husband, my dear friend Miguel, had already anguished over leaving his native country after his own father was found murdered by the ruling factions vying for power in Colombia at that time, the eighties.
To live in such overwhelming terror leaves one permanently fearful of government power wielded for purposes other than the betterment of the populace. To live in such a nightmare scars one’s soul. Some who have survived this kind of emotional torture experience their hearts going hard, their faith in government, forget about God, turning to dust. I am happy to report that my friends, Miguel and Monica I’ll call them for their anonymity’s sake, are fully integrated, peaceful and loving folks, who have weathered their misfortunes with the help of level-mindedness, and a healthy dose of expressing themselves, releasing their sorrows, through their art.
Yet, whether from their horrific personal experiences or their own natural propensities, today they both subscribe to the belief that the communist Cuban government of Castro has been a success. In the eyes of people who have lived through hell in other violence-prone latino nations, this unseemly fact does make sense—if you reckon the alternative of unheard of violence and poverty are the cold hard facts of many other South American countries (the Argentinean and Chilean dictatorships of the past, Nicaragua of Central America, and today, Mexico succumbing to the influence of drug cartels more and more).
greeting at havana airport
To Monica and Miguel, the Cubans appeared as contented children, heralding their love for “Papa” Fidel, even crying at the suggestion he could ever die. Wherever Miguel and Monica went in Cuba, countryside, city or village, they saw contentment and peace, safe streets, unthreatening people, and no crime in either small pueblos or large cities. In effect, this latino experience for my friends was the exact polar opposite from their own, when they lived in dangerous Colombia, whether from local jungle-living guerilla; the FARC, a citizen-run counter-guerilla movement, organized drug cartels or drug-moneyed government agents–all were threats in Colombia when my friends lived there. Compared to the extreme violence Miguel and Monica lived through, the daily threat on their lives even while living in the remotest, most peaceful place, raising vegetables and tending cattle, Colombia was hell. To them, with this comparison, Cuba today is a model of a peaceful place, a country where one can live safely and with enough food and education for everyone. Even today, it is rumored that the president of Columbia is in power because of his associations (his past ones at least) with organized drug mafia. We shall see the development of that country, as we also watch with interest how the governments of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Eva Morales’s Bolivia turn out, those two countries that are turning away from democracy and toward the communist philosophy espoused by the Castro regime.
The award-winning journalist and blogger Yoani Sanchez ( www.generaciony.com ) tells a different story. She, you see, LIVES in Cuba. She tried to move away, years ago, to Switzerland, but couldn’t leave the country of her blood, her heart. She tells her story to the world, and is now featured as part of the Huffington Post ( www.huffington.com ). But my friends Monica and Miguel think her view is slanted. And . . . I think theirs are. No doubt, people think mine is too.
Yes, each of our own perspectives —whether about life in general, religion, politics, sex, even the food we choose to eat — are affected by the experiences we’ve had in our life.
This is an interesting topic, because to me, I used to consider myself a totally un-political person, yet a true spiritual warrior. Yet I realized after 9.11 that I would have to, one day, make a stand about how I felt. After my country was attacked by terrorists who don’t approve of our democratic way of life, either for religious or political reasons, I decided that I felt strongly enough about democracy — when I seriously asked myself this very telling question—that if i had to, i would choose to die in upholding the values that our country stands for. I would rather die, yes, that’s right, than be subjected to the whim and will of any other system, be it a dictatorship, a takeover by renegade prophet or politician who self-proclaims his or her view to be that “of the people’s” as the revolutionaries of Cuba loudly sing. It’s the same song sung (different language, different rhythm, but same lyrics) by the silently menacing dark shadows of the Taliban that deepens the gulf between East and the West in our world today. Whether right or wrong, unless people get to VOICE their choice —that is, live in a democratic style where the vote of the people is the rule of the land —any system that is in power is going to end up putting out the flame of the human spirit: taking away our intrinsic freedom of choice.
free to choose whom to love, who to be ---what to dream!
To satisfy some of my own questions, I decided to sit and contemplate the difference between what “political” and “spiritual” means to ME. I believe all humans are a blend of many things. But some of us are very much more one way (emotional, intellectual, physical–and political or spiritual) than the other. No one can be absolutely un-political, unless they are brain dead. Maybe there are a lot of those types, the ones who watch too much TV, but i bet they tend to be more finantics than those who don’t watch TV. Even Daw Ang San Su Kyi, my beloved heroine of Burma, who has been under house arrest for nearly 20 years for opposing the military dictatorship of her country, maintains total peace and passive resistance as her political stance. In her quiet vigil she is a STRONG political figure, even though her warring-arms are nothing more than the single lotus tucked behind her ear.
she awaits the moment of freedom, in prayer and silence
When my consort Carter and I made the trip to Cuba last March (see previous blog postings when we traveled with the humanitarian group, Fundacion Amistad)— we had exactly the opposite feeling about how the people in Cuba appeared, as our friends Monica and Miguel had. We felt the Cubans’ deep sadness of those we met and spent real time with, saw the lack of vitality expressed in the words they spoke in public, viewed the counter-revolutionary sentiments in their art, noticed how their faces turned frightened when certain subjects were mentioned outside their homes. Countless times we were told household secrets only shared behind closed door by the frustrated, depressed Cuban people we visited. We met with several collectives of artists and artisans, an internationally acclaimed actor, an noted architect, and business and service people as well; all of whom felt incredibly depressed, they said in private conversation, because they were not allowed to participate with the rest of the world. They felt—in a word—unfree.
Here is my list of the differences of being political as opposed to centering on a spiritual way of taking ACTION to help humanity. You decide which characteristics suit you best. Hopefully you’re a blend of both.
A POLITICAL perspective on life is
- filled with motives
- replete with agendas
- involved in the art and science of governing others
- engaged in intrigue, shrewdness, contriving, dealing, promoting of policy and taking action either FOR or AGAINST a political system
- argumentative and often, finantic about personal views
A SPIRITUAL perspective on life is
- all inclusive
- without rules or boundaries
- has no judgement, motives, or agendas other than acceptance and forgiveness, knowing that evolution does not come without painful growth
- involved in no-opinion but passive resistance, like Ghandhi and Daw Aung san su Kyi, Martin Luther King, and countless others
- wants to help others attain spiritual freedom, and actively prays (engages in “mental thought battle”) to achieve this goal
the words themselves tell it all.
political: from the Greek word, politikos—about the people, the citizens
spiritual: from the Latin spiritus—a breath, to breathe (a.k.a., to LIVE)
Being in balance with both sides of our human nature, the political and the spiritual, is the healthiest. But in my book, it is better to be MORE spiritual than political. To pray for change is much more powerful than arguing or taking up arms. If all of us who believe in the highest possibilities for the evolution of our species, used prayer as our tools, holding positive thoughts as our weapons of change, the ONENESS, the UNITY, the SACRED DIVINITY of our human state will become a reality instead of some far-fetched metaphysical mumbo jumbo. Instead of fighting or arguing over politics—a lot of change occurs on its own when thoughts are attuned to the highest potential. Thought is action. Thoughts are “seeds” of change.
I offer this blog as a seed to balance the anger and unrest in many people’s hearts who have been deeply affected by violently suppressing regimes.
In the Light, lordflea