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Francisco Castro: I was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1984 and I have lived in Havana since I started studying at the Higher Art Institute in 2004. Being a homosexual in a traditionally homophobic society and not hiding it automatically turned me into a revolutionary. As a young person convinced that other people can always be better, makes me live in the middle of a thorny garden, and I get hurt a lot. So I decided to find a machete and cut each branch and do it here, right smack in the garden. The one where I was born, that I love more all the time by choice, because it’s mine. My life is that search, that of the machete. I also seek help, to find it and to clean the garden.

The Lesson from the Pope

February 28, 2013 | Print Print |

Francisco Castro

Pope Benedict XVI when he was in Cuba in March 2012.

HAVANA TIMES — To say “I quit” requires great courage. This was one of the comments made by Vatican spokespeople regarding the decision of Benedict XVI to step down as head of the Catholic Church.

Health reasons led him to make this decision. It’s logical that since he’s unable to fulfill his assigned tasks in a fully responsible manner, he’s stepping aside for someone who’s capable of continuing that work.

This came as a shock, especially since it’s been more than five centuries that something like this has happened. The end of a Pope’s reign is usually decided by their death, though this isn’t law. These individuals have every right to make this decision, and I would go so far as to argue that it’s their duty.

I think that in addition to courage, making this decision also involves great responsibility, love and respect for the task to be accomplished on behalf of those benefiting from the work. It requires the desire for these tasks to be fulfilled correctly and for things to run smoothly – as they should.

But there’s something else, above everything, which one must have to reach the conclusion made by Benedict XVI: modesty.

History is full of vain leaders who thicken the star system of heads of state. These individuals aren’t so interested in their duties. What’s most important to them is to appear in the press every day – several times a day. Being the subjects of many headlines, they’re able to hear their names and see their gleaming dentures in photos.

This is not to mention the perks that go with their contracts. This element, though not often discussed, has an impact. These leaders are concerned about their “spread” (the car, the home…) but above all immunity, or should I say impunity?

We already know about the thousands of homes turned over to families in Cuba each year, the thousands of elementary schools opened, the countless free health services provided… all the balloons that are inflated, one after another, again and again.

But these balloons end up bursting in the air, the consequences of which are paid for — as is historically known — by those most in need.

I hope the Pope’s action serves as a lesson for all of us. If we want to realize the dream of a better world, we will have to measure our abilities and work according to these.

There’s nothing intelligent or heroic about committing to a task that one can’t achieve just to show that we as individuals are able to take another step forward – let alone if it’s only for our personal gain.


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