6 days ago
Saturday, February 23, 2008
A few days ago Fidel Castro announced he was stepping aside as the military head of Cuba. The Cuban revolution has fascinated me for a very long time. Not only because it is a remarkable story of how a handful of passionate people changed the political course of events on an island but also because the Cuban revolution tracks along with my personal history. In May of 1958 (I was baking inside of mama.) a brutal dictator propped up by US policy sent an army of 10,000 soldiers into the Sierra Maestra mountains to capture Fidel, Che Guevara and a ragtag band of guerrilla soldiers. By most historical accounts the size of Fidel's band numbered around 300. By early January of 1959 (I am a little over 3 months old.) Fidel and his revolutionary soldiers are marching into Havana and Batista has fled the island. Now I am nearing 50 and Fidel is voluntarily stepping aside. Still alive. Still ranting against US imperialism. Still a player on the stage of world politics. He was the only world leader mentioned in the most recent debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Regardless of how you feel about Fidels politics there is an important lesson in the Cuban revolution. For me it is this: Passion wins. No political system is without debit because no political system is free from human weakness. We are not perfect creatures. Collectively we are not a perfect community. But a compelling message beats bullets every time if you know how to hide within the environment.
Fidel continues to rant. Most recently he said something along the lines of... All the U.S. presidential candidates are calling for change, change, change. I agree. The U.S. must change. It sounds like we are all on the same page. Now lets start hammering out the details. With passion please.
(This photograph is by Jack Manning of the New York Times.)