Reality is nothing, perception is everything

The author Terry Goodkind once said, “The mice think they are right, but my cat eats them anyways. This is the point, reality is nothing, perception is everything.” No matter how determined the world may be to instill in the Cuban tyranny a perception of benevolence, the oligarchic dictatorship continues to eat the mice. The frustration experienced by those of us who are not fooled by this distortion of reality is considerable. And more often than not, even after almost five decades of oppression and over 100,000 Cubans killed, the cries for justice continue to be ignored. The perception created by the world, with the very active participation of the regime, is a much more attractive reality.
But then, every once in a while, unrelated events and circumstances collide and create a perception based on reality. On January 18, 2008, such a phenomena took place off the northern tip of Cuba. Journalist Hilary Russ, providing coverage onboard the T.S. Enterprise during its voyage to the Panama Canal for the Cape Cod Times, witnessed a sight that left her in awe.


The sail looked the color and durability of parchment paper, and the body of the little vessel may have been about 20 feet long. A number of people — eight, 10, 15? — appeared to be on board, just sitting. It was impossible to tell how many there were or what they looked like.

Ms. Russ found the sight terrifying, and could only wonder how unbearable an existence could be that would drive people to risk their lives in such a manner.

It’s unfathomable, really, that you’d risk your life in such a way, at sea in this contraption with no apparent life vests, at least that we could see. It speaks of a desperation I’m grateful never to have known.

At that moment, the perception promoted by most of the world that Cuba is a workers’ paradise where all its inhabitants are happy, dancing natives reveling in their access to “free” education and healthcare, collided with the true reality of life in Cuba’s repressive, totalitarian society. At that moment in time, perception and reality came together for a brief instant to give Ms. Russ a brief, yet powerful, glimpse of an existence she admits gratitude to have never known.
You can read her entire account HERE.

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