May 15, 2007

Birds Do It

“Why do you do it?” I’m often asked. And when that pitch comes I’m tempted to hit one out of the park… for the girls and the money!

A “labor of love” is what it says on the site, and that much is true, but there’s more. On some very basic level, the reason for my exploration of Cuban history has more to do with curiosity.

Sure, on an emotional level I’ve come to believe that the heart and soul of Cuban history represents mankind at its very best… evolved and compassionate; a society daring to not base itself on selfishness.

In the abstract, you can see that Cuba was meant to be a country “for the people,” (black and white, slave and landowner, farmer and lawyer, and anyone else who had the guts to step out of the “old world” and join the fight to expel external [read: white/racist/imperial] influences from the island), and create a paradise…

Where else can those words be applied as honestly? Sure, others use them like slogans, but does their history reflect the implementation of their underlying meaning and ideals? Think again!

So, yes, curiosity is one of the big reasons for this work. I MUST know all I can about Cuban history. I CRAVE to know… I have to know… it’s a bio-chemical impulse that I can’t stop… even if there’s no other profit than nature taking its course. It is outside of my conscious control. What’s the point of being alive if I can’t learn all I can about my people? Should I just go shopping instead? Undoubtedly, this is what modern culture would prefer I do.

The most fascinating time period for me in Cuban history is the 19th century, when the island had her civil rights” movement that eventually became the independence movement, and the official birth of Cuban ideology. [The web site will feature major new content developments in this area over the next two years. Promise. ] Can you imagine the courage it took to speak out against slavery and Spanish rule in 1850s Havana? If you think it’s tough to oppose the embargo in Florida… think again.

The innumerable facts of Cuban history must be strung together in my brain (and on the web site) before I die, even if I must live past my exit date. I may have to find a way to “transport” my brain into an android/holographic body so I can have enough time… or learn to work much faster… what else could I give up in my life in order to have that time to research more of this great but hidden history? Should I give up Battlestar Galactica? Should I stop going to movies and restaurants? Should I stop reading Frank Miller and Alan Moore and other Vertigo comics? Should I forget that next year Starbuck may return as a Cylon?

Another reason for continuing this work is pride. I am simply proud of my people’s history. The more I learn about Cuban history, the more I consider myself fortunate to have names like Ignacio Agramonte, José Martí and others like them in my past, because even if I’m not related to them directly by flesh and blood, our souls are connected. The site allows me to share this connection with my American brothers and sisters.

Sure, there are also shameful, selfish creatures that have forced their mark on our history—every culture has a few bad seeds from which rotten ideas grow.

This morning, over coffee and toast, I rediscover Foner’s thought that “Cuba’s history has a significance out of proportion to its size.”