Light in the Street…* / Rebeca Monzo

Never before have I thought of the old saying my grandmother repeated so often.

She was a living storehouse of Spanish popular sayings, which we inherited from the mother country and that enrich our culture.

I once heard a professor of Marxist philosophy say that in his saying there were all the categories of philosophy. He always started his classes by spouting off a popular refrain in the classroom.

For many years, on my planet, to be the “outside lamp” has been a daily practice, invoking an unqualified solidarity. Every so often we see a group of doctors on television, departing for some “brother countries” to bring medical care and even medicines. All this is very laudable. As is helping the victims of earthquakes and other cataclysms, but what we can’t lose sight of is that the first duty of a doctor is to “those at home.” Often you have to trek from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, to find a doctor who can give you a prescription, or take your blood pressure. The same thing happens with drugs, most of which are often unavailable.

We can say the same thing about teachers, international aid workers, and even social workers, who are sometimes sent to teach the citizens of other countries, or to change regular light bulbs for energy-saving ones. It’s not as if that is such a hard thing to do. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have any work for them to do. We also have artists who have turned themselves into “street lights” for the official propaganda. The case of the singer Silvio Rodriguez, who appears in a TV spot now advocating for the so-called Five Heroes.

We worry a lot about what happens in other countries, and we turn a blind eye to what is happening right next to us.

That famous saying once again comes to mind: Light in the street, darkness in the house.

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.

November 22, 2010