Fidel Castro died and although I didn't quite feel the gusto to get out my pots and pans and celebrate I did feel a sense of relief. One less tyrant to walk among us. One less evil genius to sway things to the dark side. One less asshole to see on any sort of media. He was a symbol of ultimate oppression, only he was quite diplomatic in his ways. In fact, his diplomacy is what I find to be most infuriating. See, the thing is the world rarely recognizes the hard fact that the wolf always comes in sheep's clothing.
History proves that the most powerful of oppressors are often the most complimentary and beautiful story tellers. It starts like this, they befriend you and ultimately their communities by listening to your qualms intently, making sure to take note of that which is most often desired throughout a general people, equality, recognition, resolution, ideas, sometimes just simply being listened to and acknowledged or praised (mind you, this is not only true for world dictators but also for the most basic of hypocrites). They gauge their power based on their connections and their reach in terms of information, information which they stifle, misconstrue or manufacture for their own benefit. Those who don't know any better (lack of education, ignorance, arrogance, prejudice) follow suit because, well, why not. The person at the helm is eloquent, intelligent (to a certain degree or maybe in the sense of an evil genius but I like to consider true intelligence as a balanced mind not an oppressive one) and offers solutions to the problems they didn't even realize they admitted they had. The oppressor stands tall and confidant (because a lie is only believable if the teller believes it themselves) and weaves a web of lies that would make a person feel stupid to question. So now there are followers. The hopeless believers who support without question or interrogation (because questioning requires effort and rationale and that is often too much to ask of anyone) they chant alongside the malicious master revering and applauding the victories being fed to them and all without scrutiny of the chosen one.
You might be wondering, what is my point, exactly. Well, I recognize that a step by step analysis of what I believe was Castro's evil but perfect plan to destroy the beautiful island nation of Cuba, my family's homeland, would be somewhat irrelevant at this moment because it would be diving into a deep pool of the past and would offer little to no condolence to my people. I know these words will be lost on those that simply just don't understand oppression or those that face different monsters believing their plight and their woes to be worse. The point of my writing today is to ask you all to heed the lesson of Cuba's ugly history. Fidel was a master of words, a diplomatic adversary if you will, who gained followers and built an army based on his promises. He instilled fear and stifled truths once his power grew beyond the scope of one community. Castro's regime grew out of lies, it's as simple as that. Why aren't there more stories, movies, novels, tv shows, because the Cuban people are an optimistic people, forever believing that the blessings bestowed upon our lives, even in the course of tragedy and misfortune, far outweigh the horrors of the past. Our people teach our children to forgive and forget and move forward, that nothing will come from vengeance. That the thousands of lives lost at the hand of one of history's greatest Goliath is something that cannot be altered so why dwell upon it if no change will come of it.
Well, the story of David's bravery against Goliath would never have served as an example to us all had we never heard the story in the first place. To quiet triumphs and silence victories as well as injustices simply to appease the weak at heart is to devoid the world of hope and inspiration. Those that attempt to quiet the truths that need be spoken are a different sort of monster but, one just as strong in their power to change the courses of history and perception. Do not be deceived by the stories best told for often times those stories are more fiction than fact and as beautiful as a lie may be, the ones we most want to believe are the most dangerous kind.
Yesterday I had a strange encounter. One that left me thinking quite a bit. I started my day in the usual fashion, the morning hustle to get lunches packed, water bottles filled, breakfast ready, some quick house chores squeezed in and everyone dressed in the right outfit for the day (since when did schools have SO many different theme days). Finally out the door and on our way (we've been on time to school almost every day this year so far!). After school dropoffs I typically head to the gym for about 45mins before taking a quick shower there and then heading to work. I've upped my water intake so I went straight for the restroom as soon as I walked through the gym doors.
Now, this is the part that was a bit different. As many moms know, most handicap accessible restrooms offer added comforts. When my children were little, I often chose this restroom stall for things like breastfeeding when I was a young and embarrassed mother (although I outgrew that rather quickly), packing three kids in a restroom with me while everyone took care of their business, using the changing table which is often located in this stall, taking advantage of a private sink for many feminine reasons when flushable wipes are not at your disposal. In the four years as a member of this gym I have used that stall maybe 4 times, and, yesterday was one of them. Now let me add, during the same four years at this overloaded Hialeah gym where literally hundreds of people frequent at any given hour, I have never once seen a person who would be restricted to only using this stall. People at gyms tend to be routine in their arrival times and during those 4 years I have learned the faces of almost every frequent member. But I digress.
So I rush into the coveted stall, which is typically occupied for the reasons I listed above but never once for its handicap accessibility. I am a multitasker in everything I do, so even in the restroom I am quick. I'm typically not even done and I already have my t.p, in hand ready to wipe and go. Right when I'm about to wrap things up I notice an electric wheelchair move up to the stall door. I'm immediately horrified by my own lack of consideration. I call out instantly, "I am so sorry, give me a minute and I'll be out". No response but the chair moves in closer so that I can now see the person's feet. I'm reaching for the t.p. only to realize, to my horror, there is none. I repeat my apology a second time and add the fact that there isn't any toilet paper. No response. I scurry over to the sink with my pants around my ankles and am relieved to find paper towel in the dispenser (doing this is never fun but you do what you gotta do to get things done). If a timer was set, I'd swear that I was out of there in less than 25 seconds.
As soon as I open the door I apologize once again but I am already being yelled at. She begins to tell me, in Spanish, how inconsiderate I am and starts yelling about the fact that I have no business in that restroom. I apologize in Spanish and let her know of the missing toilet paper situation but she's not hearing it. She continues on to tell me that it is illegal for me to be in that restroom which is designated for the old and disabled. I repeat again that there isn't any toilet paper and if she would like for me to get her some. She forges on to belittle me with insults refusing to hear me. Now, I start to get upset. Most people that know me well know that I can be very nice and understanding but also am intolerant of arrogance and entitlement. Had this been a one stall bathroom this person would have had to wait till I was good and ready to be done to use the restroom as one stall restrooms at any establishment are also the handicap accessible restroom.
When she starts quipping laws I start losing my patience. The one remark that set me off was when she stated that it was illegal for me to use "her" restroom. I had already moved on to washing my hands (which I didn't do inside the stall, even though there was a sink, to give her access as quickly as possible). Instead of hurrying into the stall to do her business she turned her chair around to face me, while I washed my hands, to scold me, with absolutely no rush on her part to actually use the restroom. This is the point when I decided to dry my hands and walk out completely aware of the fact that there was no toilet paper in the stall she was about to use.
Sometimes not everything is our problem to solve. Sometimes you just have to turn around, walk away and not feel sorry.
My father-in-law loves to share stories and tell jokes. He often surprises me by sharing a joke that relates perfectly to my day without knowing it. Today he insisted on an Alvarez Guedes oldie.
Two couples met after quite some time and immediately start catching up. "What have you been up to?" "How have you been feeling?" "What about your parents?"....
One man asks the other, a father of two, "hey, how are your kids? They must be grown with lives of their own." To which the other replies, "Ugh, my poor son. He's been married for some time but to a lazy woman. She doesn't work, stays home all day and constantly goes out shopping. Meanwhile, my son, who graduated with an engineering degree and makes a pretty decent salary, has to work all day only to have to help with the children while his wife takes a break. It's insulting really, the gull of this woman to squeeze my son in this way but he is in love and allows her to do as she pleases. Can you believe that she has him get her a new car every three years?".
The other man then asks, "but what of your daughter?".
To which the father replies , "My daughter?! Now she struck gold! She married a surgeon who makes a ton of money, doesn't allow for her to work and is constantly spoiling her with gifts and jewels. The guy is head over heels for her. This month he bought her a new Mercedes, it's the third one she's had since they married. My girl is a smart girl.".
The jokes that are best to laugh at are the ones that resonate truth. Often times, the same exact scenario is interpreted in two ways and it doesn't even mean that one is the truth. Why? Because both sides of the story are still presented with prejudice no matter how hard one tries to stay neutral. It's not in our nature or in the way our language and culture was built. There are irrevocable tendencies to one side or another in delivery and reception. These interpretations form the relationships we have with others. Should you chose to have a particular fondness for the person then you are likely to interpret their communications, actions and intentions positively.
The problem lies in those relationships that are strained from the get go and require quite a bit of self reflection to progress. When we fail to recognize the truth of others and their efforts for what they are in reality rather than what we perceive because of our own predispositions, we cast unwarranted judgement and negativity to something that can very well be the same thing we find positive in another. Our current post-election situation is a perfect example. People revere their candidates for reasons they feel to be sound but fail to recognize that those on "the other side" are doing the same. Rather than acknowledge differences of opinions, instill love and understanding and fortify communication, we point the finger at each other with an over zealous need for blame.
This is the part where I am supposed to draw a conclusion based on self reflection and which offers an insightful solution. The only thing I can say is this, don't be a prick because, truth is, what's good for the goose should be good for the gander.
Multi-tasking over-thinker that is, as you can imagine, often running late.