Cuba Blog Post #1
What strikes me is the passion.
I expected the communist system in Cuba to foster a lack of excitement or enthusiasm or any sense of vocation among the people. I thought the Cubans were told what job they were required to do, thus squelching individual autonomy and inner drive for personal growth. I thought everyone would feel like a cog in the wheel of socialism.
Whether from human nature or indoctrination, I find a real sense of purpose and passion from the people we have met. The head of an urban organic Garden was practically bursting with excitement as he explained his techniques of producing rich soil from compost, sugar cane leaves and the help of worms and microorganisms. The medical students are so proud to be learning medicine in a country that values natural and traditional medicine alongside western medicine. The waiter at a new vegetarian restaurant (a new development in Cuba – privately owned restaurants) explains each course and ingredient with pride and precision.
It helps me understand the nature of ambition, drive and the ability, or even need, for humans to find meaning in their work and their lives, no matter the circumstances. Of course I see Americans with ambitions stifled for social, health or economic reasons, especially at the free clinic, where I work. And in Cuba there are certainly disgruntled people who yearn for freedoms that we fight to protect in the United States. But overall, the passion I see here renews my belief in the ability to overcome and to be resilient, allowing for the pursuit of personal growth and a sense of contribution to society, no matter the personal circumstances.