Monday, April 20, 2015

Politics… As Unusual …

I have been called many things, including being an extremist of the right side … and a… (Gasp!!) Republican…

And this is in my own house, mind you. Where my dear wife is a descendent of a long line of liberal democrats. I think by now more through tradition than conviction.

Actually, I have been a registered independent for some 40 years who has actually voted on both sides of the aisle. Yes, I know this excludes me from primary voting, but it allows me to look and listen. To actually listen to what is being said and look at what has been done, or not. My swaying is encouraged by the latter, not the former.

I am a conservative who is willing to talk, dialogue and to listen. As long as the other part is also willing to do the same. Now, I am not saying my mind will change easily, but if the arguments are coherent, I will listen.

It is easy to lump me, along with many other Cubans into the “reactionary right” bag without giving any of the group a chance to be heard. "Oh Yeah!! You are Cuban, therefore you are a far right advocate". My leanings to the right-of-center are the result of, yes, my own and my family’s experiences in Cuba after the “Coming Of Castro” but, more importantly, they are the result of talking to many people as well as of observing firsthand the actual generational results of unchecked left oriented liberal governments all over the world. 50 countries visited and worked in over a 20 year span; from the highest levels to the poorer levels. It has been a long trek.

As a general rule, the higher the education level of a country’s citizenry (at all levels, not just the upper 25%) the less one of these governments has a chance to succeed. Also, there tend to be more job opportunities for the citizens, therefore there is less of an opportunity for the usual harangue the populist leaders’ use as a platform: “Take from ‘them’ so you can have”. Those privileged countries where there is respect for the institutions of the republic will be better off and more sustainable. The countries where the following of individual(s) becomes the norm, will suffer greatly, economically, socially and emotionally.

Populism, whether from the right or the left, tends to fall into the latter group. By definition, there is a “popular” leader who will spouse “populist” (of the people) ideas, at the expense of the wellbeing and the future of the republic. The terms Right and Left are also becoming a little overused and abused by anyone who wishes to have five minutes of fame.

In the political world terms and symbols are bandied about and most people follow them without bothering to dig a little and understand what they actually mean or stand (stood) for. Witness the (in)famous Che t-shirt. Those who wear it today have no idea the man was a blood thirsty criminal who happened to also be an avowed racist and bigot. It’s trendy, that is enough for them.

It is high time to understand that being a republican (as in “Republic”, not party) and standing for the institutions that guarantee its evolution (not “revolution”) and its adapting to and adopting changes with order and certainty is much more important than simply espousing liberal, conservative or populist stock sayings which, very often, are repetitive and meaningless.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Sunday, April 19, 2015

From Wally’s Pond. Take ... Is it 3? … Or perhaps 4?

Yesterday morning I was almost late for my morning ESL class…

It was a long night, one of those that refuses to allow sleep to come in and stay for any reasonable amount of time. Finally, at around 4:45 in the morning (yep… one of those) I gave up and being alone –seems like there has been a lot of this lately- turned on the television set. As in other occasions, I went down my usual channels – Discovery, History, American, Sports—and, finding out that at this time of the morning their primary interest lay in selling me pants, glasses, new hair(actually, this one I may take note of) kitchen utensils, etc… it was time to go to the movie channels.

Flipping furiously down the line, one offering caught my eye. I don’t really know why. Perhaps because it promised a light fare and perhaps because it promised to be boring enough to put me back to sleep. Julia Sweeney (From SNL and “Pat” fame, among other accomplishments) talking about life. From her book “God Said… HA!!”. This program was recorded in 1994.

Little did I know this would not only keep me from going back to sleep, but that it would rivet my attention to the screen for the next 90 minutes. And that it would set off a long period of questioning and reviewing of my own version of God Said HA…

Her brother Michael had died of cancer in 1991, after a long period of living in with Ms. Sweeney, at her home, since there was no insurance and costs of treatment were then –and still are- very high. During this difficult period of time, she also found out she had cervical cancer, which she survived.

Being a comedian by profession, she recounted this story with a light comedy touch. One of those which every so often brings a knowing smile to your face. On the other hand, I guess it would be very difficult to talk about this as a subject to create raucous laughter. There was love, care, warmth and, above all, perspective.

Having had cancer myself and having lost several friends to this disease, it was easy to relate to her stories. How to find a little peace in the midst of constant debacle. A little laugh, a little smile. A little loving thought. How to learn to deal with a reality that all too often no one around you may come to understand or mentally accept.

As everyone who has gone through an encounter with a life threating disease knows, the resulting changes are not only physical, they are also emotional and spiritual. The physical ones are usually manageable. Lingering side effects from drugs which are quite strong, sometime for the rest of the patient’s life. Follow up treatments that go on for often years, trying to insure the disease does not come back.

The other side effects are the ones only the patient sees and feels. The questioning, often without answers. A subtle change in every day relationships, in the understanding that truly there is a limited time for out physical presence on this world. A change in priorities, a change in the way we look at life in general and at existence I particular. Sometimes these come on gradually. Sometimes they snap to in the midst of a conversation, a thought, a discussion.

What is true, as Ms. Sweeney implies, is that life will change. In her case, it took her into the world of Atheism. All well and good. In my case, it helped me understand that –whatever name we give- there is a fighting spirit who is with and within us; who has shared with us life and choices; who waits and –if and when asked to- will step in and guide us through moments which may be more difficult than others.

It also changed my life perspective. I always believed that life’s roads were to be travelled with admiration and enjoyment. Now I am totally convinced this is so. While we all set goals and lay out plans, we may or may not have the time or the opportunities to accomplish them.

Yet, I now believe that the true accomplishment is in walking the roads life gives us and in enjoying every step along the way. In the end, it is not about the things one did or owned; it is about having walked in the knowledge that each and every step counts and that each and every moment –whether in abundance or not, materially speaking- was understood and enjoyed. And whether or not something was grasped from those moments. A lifelong learning process.

A little long winded… maybe a shorter entry next time to make up for this… Or maybe not… 

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Doña América and other memories.

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