From a distance the world looks blue and green, there is harmony, we all have enough and you look like my friend. From a distance. When you take in the big picture it’s easy to see this. A soft blur. The devil is in the details though. And looking closer often reveals something totally different, even though in many cases it shouldn’t.
The words come from a song aptly titled “From A Distance” which was written by Julie Gold and first recorded by Nancy Griffith. It has also been covered by Kathy Mattea, Donna Summer, The Byrds, Richard Clayderman, Fairport Convention, Riva Taylor, John Barrowman, and in a Norwegian language version by Ingebjorg Harman Bratland. Of course the most famous version is probably the one done by the Divine Miss M herself- Bette Midler. All of this attention speaks to the song’s broad based appeal. That is, the appeal of it’s ideals.
I was reminded of this song on a recent trip to Cuba and the simultaneous, but unrelated, reaction of Donald Trump to relations between the United States and Cuba. From the distance of Mar A Lago, Cuba looks like it is thriving. Bigly. Thriving so much that it needs to be stopped dead in its tracks as Mr. Trump suggested in his statement that the improvement of relations between Cuba and the United States begun under the Obama Administration would have the brakes slammed on it. I got in and out just in time.
My political views are not often a topic of my posts. In fact, this may be the first time I’ve revealed them, but reading between the lines of other posts may have given my kind readers a hint. There is a great deal of meanness in the world, and the anti-Cuba stance is fueled by a lot of mean people who harbor a nearly sixty year old grudge and politicians courting their vote. Mean people suck.
I’ve been to Cuba. And seen it up close. In detail. Donald Trump hasn’t. From a distance it looks like a tropical paradise with beautiful colonial architecture, a grand European flair, and of course those fabulous 1950s American classic automobiles. From a distance…
Up close you will find that after fifty years of neglect, those beautiful colonial buildings are crumbling with decay. Beautiful facades, hollow inside. And the cars, up close they sometimes look like they may not make it around the corner. They sound even worse. Cubans are not legally allowed to own an American car newer than a 1959 model. Getting parts for these vehicles is pretty hard, and you will find all variety of foreign parts under the hood.
Color abounds. Bright yellows and blues, soft greens and pinks. It’s paint. On buildings and cars. And in many cases it looks like the paint is what holds the thing together.
The people can’t be painted, but they seem to be hanging together ok. Everyone I met was very nice, and curious about America. They did not speak of Castro, or Trump, but images of the Revolution and it’s heroes are everywhere.
There is great poverty, with old women begging on the streets, in the back alleys away from the tourist centers. People sitting in doorways doing nothing but watching, waiting for something. Rotting garbage, and it’s stench, in open containers in the streets. It’s definitely a third world country, but there is great promise there.
There are people working in shops, on public works projects, in restaurants, bars, offices, farming, shipping, banks, museums, as police and every other line of work. Internet service sucks, but there are computer repair shops. The people are resilient and looking forward to improved relations.
The majority of Cubans today were not alive at the time of the Revolution. They were born into the Cuban predicament. The didn’t create it. But they are the ones being punished. A trade embargo with Cuba hurts the people, not the government . And hurting the people is not helping anyone. I don’t know if the President is worried that a middle aged, well educated, well off, white male like myself would rush to emigrate to Cuba, or that a person such as myself would go there and see the needs that exist and demand action. I know he loves “stupid people” because he said so. But the rest of us he can’t control so easily.
From a distance Cuba may look like a threat to America, but in the details, they need some help. Not American developers or capitalists to take over and make money, but humanitarian aid. The Cuban people can decide for themselves what they want the future of their country to be. This isn’t 1898, although some of the technology there suggests otherwise. Instate free trade, let the markets decide. Power to the people. My opinion… And I’d like to see this post go viral, and for people around the world, people with a soul, to stand up and make the Earth great again…
And that’s part of my story. What’s yours?