from Manuel Márquez-Sterling and RR Aranda
Jews and Cubans share similar values, strengths, burdens, and lessons. Among the most important shared lessons is that those on the side of truth and light eventually prevail (even against overwhelming odds), but it is essential to keep faith with appreciation that it is our Maker that secures the victory. Diaspora has taught both the need to preserve history and tradition while in exile.
The Babylonian Captivity forced the leading citizens, nobility, craftsmen and scholars of ancient Israel to leave their homeland. These exiles in good measure managed to keep alive their traditions and history throughout seven decades of exile, and their heirs who retained those traditions and history eventually returned to rebuild the ruins in the wasteland that had once been their glorious nation.
Among the sufferings of Cubans in exile has been witnessing the falsification of Cuban history by the thugs who hijacked the country in 1959 and their useful idiots masquerading as journalists and scholars.
In addition to having their country stolen, Cuban exiles have had to endure an unending series of grotesquely false portrayals (by Castro’s media and academic confederates) misrepresenting the glorious old republic they proudly remember as a poverty and disease-ridden backwater whose illiterate citizens were oppressed and exploited by a brutal tyrant in concert with US businessmen and gangsters. These untruthful propagandist portrayals further present the brutal thugs who hijacked, looted and destroyed the nation—and slaughtered untold numbers—as noble, admirable, heroic figures who greatly improved Cuba and the lot of its citizens.
It seems hopeless to swim against this tidal wave of falsified history and utterly distorted “studies” and “documentaries” of the actions, impacts and results of the Castro revolution. But we do so armed with a force stronger than can be marshaled by the aggregate of Castro’s thugs and their battalions of useful idiots. That force is Truth.
As Christmas approaches on this the longest night of this year, a year that most of us see as a dark time, it seems especially appropriate to reflect on the words of Christ:
For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
As we look back on this year and what we have to be grateful for, and look ahead to what we will do with a New Year, we offer for your consideration a story told by Robert Fulghum about a question he asked Alexander Papaderos (a noted Greek teacher, philosopher and politician) at the end of seminar in Crete, a soil where the scars of brutal Nazi invasion and occupation still reverberate.
The Meaning of Life
He turned. And made the ritual gesture: "Are there any questions?"
Quiet quilted the room. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now there was only silence. "No questions?" Papaderos swept the room with his eyes. So I asked.
"Dr. Papaderos, what is the Meaning of Life?"
The usual laughter followed and people stirred to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was.
"I will answer your question."
Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this:
"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.
"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine--in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.
"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light --truth, understanding, knowledge--is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.
"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world--into the black places in the hearts of men--and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."
And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.
extract from: It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It by Robert Fulghum
(The author published an expanded version in his 2008 book What on Earth Have I Done?