[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Seeing Through Different Lens

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Seeing Through Different Lens

Val and Henry have already posted about the screening of the Alberto Korda documentary at FIU last night. Please read their posts linked above for the details.

As Henry noted, all three of us showed up with t-shirts showing pictures from the revolution that Korda didn't take. In the back was a list of the people executed by Che. When Val handed me the t-shirt outside the building, I was so anxious about the event that I forgot to check the list to see if my distant cousins were on it.

On my way home after the film, I checked. Sure enough, there they were, a little past halfway down the first column:

Raul Clausell
Angel Clausell
Demetrio Clausell
Jose Clausell

Although I never met them, there's obviously a connection. As I understand it, their only "crime" was that they were members of the national police force. As they were understandably loyal to their previous employer (Batista), they were executed in the very early days of the revolution.

It's in this context that I approach the subject of Che, fidel and post-revolution Cuba. The film was in essence a glorification of the revolution. The first 30 minutes, in particular, were almost pure propaganda. As tough as it was to sit through that, Henry and I managed to do it. I feel for Val because I know he gave it his best shot but just couldn't do it. I don't blame him.

Imagine how tough it must be for someone who has lost a close relative to the hands of Che's firing squads to face this. Imagine how tough it must be for someone like that to face and hear the taunts and chants of Viva Fidel. Imagine how tough it must be to hold one's emotions in check.

This is something our community fails to realize: our individual beliefs and actions are determined by our life experiences. We can disagree, but we also must try to understand where the other person is coming from. More than likely, they traveled a much different road than you did. Every time a controversial issue arises in the Cuban-American community, this is what goes though my mind.

For us second-generation Cuban-Americans, it's more complicated. We haven't lived through our elders' pain, but we feel it nevertheless, even if diluted. We also understand how others might react to our pain and emotions. Often, it is tough to reconcile these conflicting emotions.

This is why I whispered to Henry during the film that as hard as it is to sit through something that goes totally against your belief system, sometimes you have to do it in order to see what the other side is thinking and saying. One can gain a better perspective by doing this.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Mambi_Watch said...

Excellent post. You highlight an important lesson on empathy. Its a value that supports tolerance in a society, and makes violence an unacceptable option.

Furthermore, it may allow means to accept pragmatic solutions to long-standing problems, especially where social groups cannot see eye to eye.

But, where there are those who call themselves "proud intransigents", then tolerance and empathy are treasures abandoned, and violence left too close at hand.

4:11 PM, January 26, 2007  
Blogger Robert said...

MW,

You touch on a slightly different variation of the theme here. It's good to be exposed to different ideas to provide a more complete frame of reference. Still, one can have his mind made up and this is totally acceptable. In other words, intransigent. That word has gained a bad connotation, but all it means is that you're sure of your feelings and beliefs and nothing can change them.

I am intransigent in my beliefs towards the Cuban revolution. Nothing anyone can tell me, nothing I can see or hear will change that. There are certain beliefs you can't compromise.

Just because someone is intransigent doesn't mean they can't tolerate other opinions. I just don't have to believe them. There's a big difference between intransigence and intolerance. The two do meet, and on both sides of the Cuban political spectrum I should add.

9:18 AM, January 27, 2007  
Blogger Srcohiba said...

Korda was a good photographer, but so was Leni Riefenstahl. So rather than an artist, he was simply a propogandist puppet and no better than Leni as far as supporting murderous regimes.

4:34 PM, January 29, 2007  
Blogger Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

Very good post. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

6:10 PM, January 30, 2007  

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