Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FIDEL! Fidel...


Are you old enough--were you young enough--to have been thrilled by the fiery young Fidel and his spunky sidekick, Che,


and their revolution against the corrupt and oppressive Battista regime in Cuba? I am. I was. A dedicated young European socialist (small "s": remember, it had not yet been granted dirty-word status over there as it had here in America,) I saw in Fidel from that perspective a sign of hope for people across the ocean--the oppressed black people of America (this was the Fifties...) as well as the oppressed brown people to the south.

And then I watched in dismay as bully America--bear with me here, I am still in my early twenties, I am idealistic, I am socialist and European!--tightened its communist-fearing iron fist around the little island and drove Fidel unnecessarily into the welcoming arms of post-Stalinist Soviet communism.

I watched in dismay as the people's hero, the great liberator, turned into his own nemesis, the great dictator, the hectoring autocrat, dispatching those who dared to dissent from him to jail and continuing to cling blindly to his ideology and his power as the nation's economy crumbled about him.

I watched in dismay as the exiles from this Castro regime began to exercise an increasing and unhealthy influence in American politics, with their strident and overbearing demands on American leaders to support their anti-Castro agenda at the expense of American and hemispheric interests.

And I watched in dismay as the once jaunty hero showed up, at last, shriveled with age, a sick old man, gaunt, scraggly-bearded, hollow-cheeked and sallow, still clinging stubbornly to what was left of his power, a "shadow of his former self," the wreck of what had once been a powerful man.

The more I watch of the world and its affairs, the more I'm grateful to the wisdom of the Buddhist teachings. We all grow old and die. Political power is nothing but vanity. It is we ourselves who can be our own worst enemy. Attachment to outcomes brings nothing but further suffering, while equanimity and non--attachment lead to serenity of mind. And yet, and yet... I still continually find myself caught between the two!

6 comments:

thailandchani said...

At this point, I am not willing to make any statement about Fidel.. because I have not visited Cuba and I don't know for certain what has taken place there and what is US propaganda. (The defectors who spew this stuff are... where?)

At the same time, I agree so much with your last paragraph that I just had to comment! :)

roger said...

"I watched in dismay as the people's hero, the great liberator, turned into his own nemesis, the great dictator, the hectoring autocrat, dispatching those who dared to dissent from him to jail and continuing to cling blindly to his ideology and his power as the nation's economy crumbled about him."

the first part may be fidel but the rest is also bush.

robin andrea said...

I remember watching a video of Castro, not too long ago, when he was walking off a stage and fell. Sprawled on the floor for a moment, he was just a common frail old man, for whom all the power in the world could not save from the ravages of time. True for him, true for everyone. I wish power were more like enlightenment. It's unfortunate that it hardly ever is.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I was in Cuba when Castro came to power. I met Che Guevara. Somewhere in my archives is a post about it, but my point is that I have watched the entire saga over most of my lifetime, and the end is somehow anticlimactic.

I agree with your statement that political power is nothing but vanity, and yet it would feel irresponsible not to try to vote in the best next lucky shooter, the one we hope will somehow facilitate the serenity we all yearn for.

John Torcello said...

I heard that David Letterman said the other night that Fidel Castro would be soon be handing over power to his idiot son...
Fidel W. Castro...

Some things never change...

Doctor Noe said...

In Washington Heights NYC progressives used to call Cuban exiles 'gusanos,' or worms.

Thanks, Peter, for pointing out the in-between paradox, a dilemma whose horns George Orwell sat upon similarly in 'Homage to Catalonia.'

Cheers,

Noe

Favorite Movies

* pierrot le fou
* le mepris
* celine et julie vont en bateau
* alphaville
* meshes of the afternoon
* knife in the water
* chinatown
* rosemary's baby
* pickup on south street
* out of the past
* i walked with a zombie
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Favorite Music

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* the wild palms
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* homage to catalonia