Conscience / Lilianne Ruíz

I thought this week I wouldn’t manage to write anything. Who am I to talk about Russia’s foreign policy which keeps me from my sleep? What powers do I possess to dare to face off against a system that has caused so many victims in Cuba, just because they exercised their human right to freedom of expression as the only defense?

Before when I saw all of this I preferred to remain silent, as if the physical and spiritual hardships that a dictatorship imposed was the destiny that, in a prenatal time, in some place of conscience, we had chosen.

It’s true that there are schools, but I can’t choose what values to teach my children. It’s true that there is public heath, but the hospitals terrify me. That I get a pound of chicken a month, five of rice, because according to the radio, the billboards, the official ideology, if we had been born in capitalism we would be illiterate, lacking in medicine, and with less than a pound of chicken a month.

As if my destiny, my creativity, my rights, are worth nothing. If, above all, as if life were a school of ideology, a hospital that values state policies more than its patients, a pound of chicken a month that humiliates me and makes me want to tear up the ration book.

And from this reduction I emerge, and I discover myself to be immense, contradictory, free and different. The State and its totalitarian systems are omnipresent, it is the death of consciousness. There is no collective consciousness because we are not a collective, within each collective rebels of individuality emerge.

I know this is old stuff, that many before me have suffered. To act according to our conscience is not something we mothers can teach our children, because in a country dominated by ideology you cannot live as your own conscience dictates, but rather as most convenient for the debt to the State we all have from birth.

Sometimes it’s a job, a house, some perk, but in all cases it is freedom, better not to look for trouble for something one dares to say, or for some position one dares to have. After the sowing of socialist morality, ideology, the associated terror, we all have to respond like Ismena, Antigone’s sister: “And how, oh wretch, if things are so, can I heal myself, whether I disobey these orders or follow them?”

December 19 2011