Pope Francis left Cuba and left us several important messages. He spoke to us of service to others, mercy, love, and humility. However, more than words, his ideas also came with gestures and attitudes. After hearing and seeing him, I wondered: Could this man help to transform the attitudes and the language of our leaders?
We will have to wait a little to find out, but the seed is planted and it’s up to us to fertilize and water it to fruition. We cannot allow ourselves to continue bleeding in this sterile struggle. Cuba belongs to all Cubans, no matter how they think and no matter how they live. Those who run the country have the obligation to guarantee the peaceful coexistence and social friendship of all the people.
For many years, we Cubans have been engaged in one of those phases of the third world war mentioned by Pope Francis. In our case it involves the infamous Battle of Ideas, the main ingredient of which is feeding hatred and violence among Cuban themselves.
While this is happening in the interior of the island, the official delegations that attend international events like the ALBA and CELAC summits make speeches where they squander solidarity, commitment and love.
I dream that this government’s foreign policy would also apply to the Cuban people.
That attitude was also perceived in the Cuban television journalists who covered the papal visit. Francis repeated phrases and tried to link all the positive things he said to the Cuban Revolution, while the negative he laid on the rest of the world. He gave the impression, in his words, that in this island everything is fine and that is the rest of the planet that is very wrong. They did not want to recognize that although the Holy Father addressed his remarks to everyone, he did so in a way especially to Cubans: from the government, the religious, regime opponents and even non-believers.
Inspired by the messages of Pope Francis, civil society must work together in building a new Cuba, in a culture of encounter and dialogue, justice and love. There also needs to be an end to the information monopoly of the Communist Party and recognition given to civil society, regardless of ideological differences and points of view. It’s time to stop being “a light on the street and dark at home*,” and to work within our country for love and humility.
*Translator’s note: The old expression “Candil de la calle, oscuridad de la casa” (a light in the street, darkness at home) means that a person is effective (“lit up”) away from home and with others, but useless (“dark”) at home.