There were all sorts of moments at “Cuba Nostalgia” this weekend. There were all sorts of experiences: watching the lines at the terminals to sign the petition to free Cuban political prisoners grow at least five deep, glancing at the same screen and seeing a gentleman’s signature with his prisoner number appended, seeing the younger generations- even those who have raised well outside the Cuban milieu- helping the old codgers to sign, the same elderly who demanded to be allowed to register their voices.
Much has been said about younger generations of Cubans. I say, what caring, and well-mannered young people! My daughter has that sweetness, which I used to erroneously attribute solely to her character. Yesterday I realized that in part it is her upbringing. Ours is a culture that cares for our elderly, that values their wisdom, tolerates their ill-humor, and respects their experience. Our children absorb those values and act accordingly.
I suspect that the same can be said of the sense of loss and righteous anger over Cuba. True, there is a difference, even with the older generations. The anger now is more muted, buried under the strata of years, even lifetimes, of living in the United States, but still there waiting to be unearthed. Now it is expressed with a quiet dignity, with a purposeful tread, a defiant angle to the head, but it is still there and still being passed on to younger generations.
I was privileged to witness this mechanism first hand. A father in his late thirties, early forties, brought his son to the Babalu booth. The young boy, intent on showing off his computer savvy, sat down to enter his father’s name as this gentleman looked on indulgently. They had turned to leave when the boy murmured something. His father led him back to the terminal and asked “What does it say there?” Bingo! I thought, as he began to instruct the boy in terms a seven year old could understand. That’s how it’s done.