Creo en el pueblo Cubano.
Last week during President Obama's visit to Havana, he gave a speech addressing the Cuban nation. Our own National Public Radio sat in with a Cuban family as they listened to this address. The assembled group included neighbors and friends all listening in respectful and attentive silence--that is until the president spoke this line: Creo en el pueblo Cubano.
I can't quite characterize the response from the father of the host family--whatever it was it seemed wholly unselfconscious, deeply felt--almost a whoop--full of joy and of gratitude. And even all these miles away hearing it was deeply moving.
Creo en el pueblo Cubano translates into I believe in the Cuban people.
As anyone can tell you--residents and visitors alike--contemporary Havana is not a place of things. There is so much there that must be improvised or simply gone without. But it is a place of people, wonderfully, impressively, joyfully so... and this in turn made our recent visit there a privilege and joy.
Go now if you can.
I am not alone in suspecting that Cuba is poised to catch up with the rest of us on the owning of things. No doubt the culture will survive the onslaught coming its way, but now is a unique moment--after the thaw and before the deluge--when a visit to Havana serves up this lesson--things do not make a culture...and that is a very refreshing notion.