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I had a very different post planned for today. But after listening to NPR this morning, I felt something light just didn't fit. The attacks in Brussels tore my heart in two...Obama's visit to Cuba gave me hope for international relations.
Heartbreak and Hope
How can two such opposing events happen in the same world, within 24 hours of each other?
This morning, an acquaintance commented to me that she doesn't feel safe anymore. She listed movie theater shootings, terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, and workplace shootings like the one in San Bernardino as evidence that the world is NOT a safe place. She said it doesn't stop her from living her life, but acknowledging the threat of violence is her way of being realistic.
When I was a small child, I lived in Miami Beach, Florida. Around the time I started kindergarten, I made friends with Lizzy, a beautiful Cuban girl who was my age. I didn't know we had different backgrounds or experiences. I knew she spoke Spanish, and she taught me some too because "it was fun to share." The fact that she was Cuban was not on my radar. The fact that she was my friend was the only thing that mattered.
While still a young child, my family was robbed at knifepoint in the middle of the night.. Years later I was told that the man who did it was a Cuban criminal let out of Castro's jails. To this day, I care less about the fact that he was Cuban, and more about the fact that he was someone who thought it was acceptable to harm others. His nationality is not what led to his life of crime. And the fact that he was Cuban never caused me to suddenly hate an entire country. But years after the incident I still wonder: How does someone get to a point in the life where harming others is an acceptable action?
Obama's speech in Cuba this morning started with his message to the people of Brussels. Like Obama, my heart is with the citizens in Belgium today as I can't even imagine, and hope to never experience, this almost unspeakable act of violence that so many experienced
So often our decision to approach the world with fear or with hope boils down to our personal experiences. However lest we begin to believe that we have no control over our environment, remember that we are creatures of freewill; intelligent beings filled with an endless capacity for compassion and hope. We are innovative souls who can use the resources of this amazing world to create and inspire.
I choose to live without fear in spite of the terrorists' actions.
The robber does not represent Cuba to me, but my beautiful friend does. Had I known then what I know now, I may have cared more about my friend's heritage, asking her to tell me about her family, share her foods, language, customs. Or perhaps I would have been just a child wanting to keep hanging out with her friend.
Now that the doors are opening to relations with Cuba, may we extend the hand of friendship, promote understanding between the two nations, and help foster a relationship of tolerance and love, peace and prosperity. May we learn from one another, may we share the best of our cultures simply because it is "fun to share."
May this be a first step in building a global community in which fear of your neighbor is a concept relegated to the dusty pages of a history book.
Samantha Eve, a