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Life Arts    H1'ed 3/22/20

Cuba's Response to COVID-19 Is Much More Enlightened than Ours

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Readings for 4th Sunday of Lent: 1 Samuel 16: 6-7, 10-13A; Psalm 23: 1-6; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41

This week's liturgy of the word centralizes the concepts of blindness and darkness on the one hand and vision and light on the other. The constellation of readings is extremely relevant to our situation during this election season and time of Coronavirus.

Taken together, they claim that in the end, the processes of the Loving Universe (aka God) differ sharply from the choices of "the world." While the world chooses the rich and powerful to lead, God chooses the least. What the world calls "seeing" is really blindness enshrouded in darkness. What it calls blindness is deeply perceptive and surrounded in light.

I'll get to those readings in a minute. But before I do, consider the relevance of the readings' unifying theme to our culture's own highly cultivated blindness.

On Our Blindness

Yes: from birth we're taught to deny what's staring us all in the face. We're actually trained to be blind by our parents, culture, teachers and holy men. That imposed condition is exhibited today as we confront the world's current pandemic crisis brought on by the Coronavirus.

Think of how our politicians both Republican and Democrat want us to deny what we've all seen with our own eyes.

Begin with the Republicans and Mr. Trump. (This is quite amusing.) Mr. Trump actually wants us to believe that he deserves a grade of "A" for dealing with the health crisis that surfaced last December and which he ridiculed, belittled, and mocked all the way up until last week. Despite that clear record, the man's dared to say, "This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."

What?

Then there was Joe Biden's admonition last week that we all close our eyes to the achievements of the Cuban revolution. This man was shocked and appalled by Bernie Sanders recognition regarding Cuba that ". . . (I)t's simply unfair to say everything is bad."

"No," Biden insisted, since Cuba is a "brutal dictatorship," it's somehow wrong to recognize the truth acknowledged even by the vice president's own mentor (Barack Obama). Obama said, "The United States recognizes progress that Cuba has made as a nation, its enormous achievements in education and in health care." Biden wants us to forget all of that.

But there's more even apart from the arguable fact that for nearly 20 years, the most brutal human rights violations in Cuba have been carried out by the United States in its heinous hellhole known as Guantanamo Bay.

Cuba's Enlightened Humanity

The "more" is that Cuba is exhibiting much greater humanity and skill in dealing with the Coronavirus than is the United States. That is, even in this time of pandemic, "we" not only refuse to lift sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, and the other countries we're punishing for crimes very similar to our own and even surpassed by "friends" such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the Philippines. We're actually intensifying the sanctions in the case of Iran while it's an epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic. Evidently, for our leaders, there's no recognition of human solidarity that transcends political considerations. They want us to forget that we're all in this together - to be blind.

Meanwhile, Cuba has given docking privileges to a British cruise ship (and medical treatment to its passengers and crew) after those same privileges were refused elsewhere - even by Great Britain's former colonies. Cuban authorities gave permission, they said, out of "humanitarian concerns" and the need for "a shared effort to confront and stop the spread of the pandemic."

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Mike Rivage-Seul is a liberation theologian and former Roman Catholic priest. Retired in 2014, he taught at Berea College in Kentucky for 40 years where he directed Berea's Peace and Social Justice Studies Program. His latest book is "The Magic (more...)
 

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9 people are discussing this page, with 17 comments  Post Comment


Mike Rivage-Seul

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Forty years ago, the Sandinista anthem denounced the United States as "the enemy of humankind." At every turn, U.S. policy proves the Nicaraguans were correct. It's time for "Americans" to see the hypocrisy of our empty posturing about human rights, "brutal regimes," and democracy.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 10:00:02 AM

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Floyd Tolar

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Reply to Mike Rivage-Seul:   New Content

This reminds me of the Bruce Coburn song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher".

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 10:09:39 PM

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Nels Wight

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Solomon-esque, Mike. Divide the child, half to each 'mother.'

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 12:55:39 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to Nels Wight:   New Content

Thanks, Nels. When I was out walking this morning, it occurred to me that there's much more to say about Cuba's response to COVID-19. So, on my return, I made a revision. Cuba's even further ahead of us than the draft you read indicates.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 2:42:35 PM

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Robert Gormley

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I have always said: "We've been lied to since we were born."

Part of the process of being "born again" is to refute those lies and

start over with the truth. Not easy to do in a godless world/country.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 1:54:47 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to Robert Gormley:   New Content

Robert, your wise life-long insight took me a long time to get to. But it's so true. We're like those prisoners in Plato's Cave. It's all shadows. You're right we all require new birth.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 2:40:23 PM

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David William Pear

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US foreign policy has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with human rights, democracy, and freedom. From the time of the declaration of independence, the idea of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (you know the thing, lol) it has been about the "unalienable right" to private property and the pursuit of profits. "Happiness" was owning slaves and killing "injuns".

The US will not tolerate the example of another economic model other than so-called capitalism. Countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Nicaragua---any and all socialist countries are the "threat of a good example". Nixon and Kissinger said it quite bluntly when they crushed Chile on 9/11/1973. The US has tried to kill every socialist country in its cradle---it never wanted to let a socialist country develop without the constant threat of "all options are on the table". Most 'Americans' don't even know that the US invaded Russia in 1918 - 1920 to try and crush Bolshevism!

The war against socialism has been going on for over 100 years. And it has cost the US public dearly.

Thanks Mike, for another though provoking article.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 4:51:32 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

You're right, of course, David. Your quick review of our wars against "good example" represents a sound answer to the constant refrain: "Just give me one example of where socialism has worked." The capitalist powers that be just won't allow it.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 5:13:42 PM

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Jerry Kelley

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The United States has always been a war mongering country! There has never been a year gone by where this country had war. You think I'm wrong? To start, we were at war with the native people of this land for over 100 years so we could take there land. At least 10 million were killed in one way or another, then it was Hawaii, Cuba, every little country in the Carabian Sea, and more wars all over the world! WHY?

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 4:59:30 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to Jerry Kelley:   New Content

Good point. And General Smedley Butler answered your "Why" question quite thoroughly.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 5:11:13 PM

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Chuck Nafziger

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Mike, you roaring commie, one of your bullet points said: "Above all, we still impossibly believe that capitalism is at all capable of functioning effectively at times of crisis like the ones we're facing now." Capitalism is doing just fine moving money from the poor and middle class to the very rich, thank you very much! They have shown their ability to extend this insanely hyped up crisis so they have time for maximum fleecing. They have convinced the population to emulate cattle in feedlots.

Eat a diet of GMO corn products and animals fed on GMO corn so we stay fat and chronically sick with thrashed immune systems. Willingly crowd into boxes and do not move around much. Get pumped up with antibiotics and vaccines to stay alive until slaughter (financial collapse). Get harvested.

Capitalism is doing just fine.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 6:13:30 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to Chuck Nafziger:   New Content

Guilty, Chuck! And your comment is spot on.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 6:18:43 PM

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Good stuff, Mike. Here's another article I read a few days ago about Cuba's response:

click here

I can't reprint it here per OEN rules against duplicate posts, but see my thoughts on the origins of the curent situation by checking my comment posted at the bottom of the OEN article: "Fear, Coronavirus, and America's cold war with China."

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 8:00:48 PM

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Reply to John Lawrence Ré:   New Content

Checking Interferon-Alpha-2b (Wiki, etc), it seems to have been originally produced by at University of Zurich, and then manufactured by an American company.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 8:25:21 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Thanks for putting me onto this, John. How interesting. Thanks also for your comment on Rainer Shea's piece. Your reference made me read and appreciate it greatly. I like your parable. This is all so complicated, isn't it? And yet so simple. We're all being gaslighted.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 8:36:16 PM

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The hypocrisy is self-evident when they rage against Castro "executing all his enemies" and Chris Matthews in Central Park. Yet not one word against Pinochet, Syngman Rhee, Franco, Chiang Kai-Shek, Batista, Somoza, Trujillo, etc, and MBS.

Eisenhower called Batista, the US's best friend in the Caribbean. The examples are endless.

As I commented above, US foreign policy has absolutely nothing to do with human rights. It is all a smokescreen against socialism, and countries using their own natural resources for their own people.

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 8:26:14 PM

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Mike Rivage-Seul

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

Exactly so!

Submitted on Sunday, Mar 22, 2020 at 8:42:47 PM

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