Exploring Human Potential

MLK, Cuba, and Trumpian Values.

Posted on | January 19, 2020 | 4 Comments

Mike Magee

We just returned from a 11-day trip with Road Scholars to Cuba. During the trip, Trump announced new restrictions on travel to the island. Last year’s elimination of cruise ships and flights to all cities except Havana shaved nearly 10% off tourism. The day of this latest offensive, a Cuban professor gave us a lecture on the Cuban American relationship over the past century. In closing, he mentioned that Martin Luther King was his hero and cited the “I Have A Dream” speech. He then said:

“I dream of the day my grandsons and your grandsons can travel to Cuba freely and play baseball together in a peace and love environment. I dream of the day when there is no blockade on the Cuban people, and Americans and Cubans can travel to Cuba and to USA without restrictions. I dream of the day when there will be a big bridge of  love  between our two peoples. I dream of the day when the light of love and friendship illuminates the sky that covers our two peoples. I dream of the day when violence disappears in the lives of our beloved sisters and brothers of the USA. I dream of the day when my people don’t suffer from shortages because of injustice and blockades. Yes, today I have a dream. God bless you.”

Throughout the 11 days, the most common phrase I heard from our fellow travelers was. “This isn’t what I expected.” Here’s why:

1. There was not a single sentiment of anti-Americanism expressed from anyone, anywhere, during the entire trip.

2. There was never a sense of danger or a single concern for safety as we freely explored rural and urban, cities large and small, alleyways and revolutionary squares, synagogues and churches, dance halls and schools. (Not incidentally, guns are illegal in Cuba.)

3. The joyfulness and constant expressions of love exchanged between and among the Cuban people was extraordinary, causing more than one observer to remark, “Why are Cubans so happy?”

4. The gratitude openly expressed to our group, by all we visited (approximately 50 different events/sites), was universal. They collectively and individually wanted us to know how much they appreciated our making the effort to visit them and support them.

5. Finally, since all of us in the group were grandparent age (and many had raised children and were active participants in grandchildren’s lives), there was common appreciation for the values these people embodied – a love of education, a belief in the healing powers of culture and the arts, a strong work ethic and remarkable resilience, love and loyalty to family, and finally – music everywhere.

This morning Captain “Sully” Sullenberger seemed to be channeling these values of resilience, courage and love in an Op-Ed in the New York Times titled, “Like Joe Biden, I Once Stuttered Too. I Dare You To Mock Me.” In the piece, he is primarily speaking to children who stutter and his advice includes, “Ignore kids (and adults) who are mean, or don’t know what it feels like to stutter. Respond by showing them how to be kind, polite, respectful and generous, to be brave enough to try big things, even though you are not perfect.”

Cruelty doesn’t cut it – no matter where you live. As many Americans have said, “We are better than this!” Our values and character as a nation are being stress tested. Hopefully we will stand tall, and embrace goodness, opportunity for all, humanity on our borders, and common decency.

As we reflect today on the life and values of Martin Luther King, consider visiting and supporting the people of Cuba. It is not what you have been led to expect.


4 Responses to “MLK, Cuba, and Trumpian Values.”

  1. Charles Moriarty
    January 19th, 2020 @ 3:47 pm

    I don’t understand the title referencing “Trumpian values.”

    In your first paragraph, it’s “President Trump”, not “Trump.” Still in the first paragraph, the restrictions were announced by the Secretary of State, Michale Pompeo, not President Trump.

  2. Carol Watson
    January 20th, 2020 @ 8:44 am

    My husband & I just visited Cuba November 2019 & our experiences were exactly like yours. We loved our time in Cuba! The people are delightful, the food is delicious, the history & culture is wonderful, & the island is beautiful. We, too, wish for open relations with Cuba & recommend that anyone is thinking about going to Cuba do it!!

  3. Mike Magee
    January 20th, 2020 @ 9:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Carol! Best, Mike

  4. Mike Magee
    January 20th, 2020 @ 9:04 am

    Thanks for your comment, Charles. Trumpian values are on full display daily for all to see. Perhaps this 2005 address at the Coast Guard Academy helps provide a contrasting example of positive leadership: Best, Mike

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