I tell my daughter that being responsible is a privilege. I don’t know from what deep part of me this form of rebellion emerged. I find that it is not something I’m fully aware of. It is not the education I received in school, nor at home, where the most important thing was to be obedient. To be guided by others.
In the blink of an eye she’s turned 7. In the same period that we have spent together — unquestionably the best part of my life — she will be 14, then 21… By then I will have taught her the best I have to give. I’m not sure about having been free. And I think you can only be happy from there.
Amid the crap that goes on in Cuba today, my daughter and I are really lucky that her teacher from the first grade is pretty good. But you can’t teach someone to be free, and so, she can’t be educated to be truly responsible. The teacher, whether by conviction or obedience I don’t know, but undoubtedly because here we all play down the importance, must teach my daughter about other heroes who are not her mother’s, if I ever had any.
And she must indoctrinate her from the time she’s little in the political religion, and I swear no one has ever asked me if I agree with this model of children’s awareness. And it’s taken for granted that if the education is free I have to accept that the values they teach my daughter are the same ones that have brought about the profound crisis in human rights of our country since the seizure of power by the Castros, who have made it a place that most people dream of escaping from.
Can we do nothing other than play down the importance of the the way others, whom we did not choose, educate our children? Content ourselves with their learning to read and write and perhaps one day going the University and becoming members if they annul their consciousness, their will, their responsibility and their freedom? Who comes out ahead with the education offered free from the State. The family or the State dictatorship?
The day my daughter was born I understood that I could not continue to disengage myself from my responsibility. She taught me the rudiments of freedom with her first cries. That day, in the room where we were waiting to be discharged the next day, Palms and Canes was showing on TV, a program from time immemorial, after the State News. And I told myself I did not want anything like that for her, that her life was going to be different from mine, that all the times I had shut up about my small truths, I had lost the opportunity to carve out a future. But I didn’t realize I would have to do my part to give her a better life.
A few years ago I opened the blog Jeronimo, falling under the spell of an engraving by Durer, and in the act of finding my own expression I started to listen to my heart, the same voice that tells her that being responsible is a privilege that she earns and that she should do so, for love of herself.
A country where people are silenced in so many ways, that blocks the path to the internal truth of each person, cannot produce individual growth, flourishing, creativity, wealth, happiness.
A friend has a 3-year-old daughter in daycare. She told me one day the girl came home with directions to paint Che’s cap. So she took the black crayons and as best she could painted a cap with a star. The following day the girl was supposed to paint Camilo’s sombrero. And the same thing happened. On the third day, while she was climbing the stairs to the house, the little girl announced that that night she was supposed to paint, for the following day, Fidel’s trousers. My friend looked at her husband and the two of them, in chorus, said, “Don’t fuck with us!”
But outside of pretending to be demented and forgetting a task that carries so much political weight, and arriving late for the morning assemblies which are also political, there’s not much more you can do as long as the school system belongs to the State. Every day that passes I ask myself what is the path to regaining the freedoms our parents sold and without wanting to, postponing their responsibility, they passed it on to us.
12 November 2013