The right to be ourselves
I like to remember a short story about a scientist that prepared an experiment and needed silence to concentrate and be able to work. But a 5 year-old grandson who was wandering around close to him wouldn’t leave him alone. To make him go away, he took a magazine and opened it by the middle; there was a large map and he thought: “I cut it in pieces, I mix the pieces and tell him it’s a puzzle and then I get rid of him for a few hours.” And so he did, he put the pieces inside a shoebox and told the boy, “Go and make the map of the world.” One hour later, the kid comes back and tells him, “Grandpa, here it is.” Bewildered grandpa asked him, “But how could you do it if you never saw a map of the world?” His grandson answered, “Grandpa, when you were tearing the map I saw that there was a man on the other side. I don’t know the world but I can recognize a man.”
What matters is the human being, the community; it’s us, humans. In front of the scandal of many, some dare to talk about giving a fundamental salary to every person in the world. When we say people have the right to live with dignity it is not because a person is a man or a woman, it’s because of the fact that it is a person. To say that the person who doesn’t work cannot eat is a barbarity of unsuspected consequences. For starters, we would have to get rid of millions of beings who cannot work: people with terminal or chronic diseases, disabled people, old people, etc. It is true that it would be more “profitable” to empty hospital beds, but it would be better to ask for the thousands of shareholders of big companies who have inherited their stocks and who have never worked. If we want to be consequent, we would have to question the legitimacy of wasteland property, of shares and of stocks upon which the lives of millions of people depend and who can find themselves on the streets and without a job because it is convenient for the company’s “profit”.
The keys to authentic human development are in education, health, an adequate diet and dignified life conditions for human beings regardless of their talents or their contributions to society. We cannot accept to be treated as if we should live to work rather than working to live. It seems like we spend the first part of our lives “preparing ourselves to produce”; maturity “employed to produce”; until they paralyze us when we “stop producing.” It is an inhumane concept of life because we are more than producers, we are soil that walks, stardust filled with feelings, reason and breath, soul or spirit.
It is true that we live in the threshold of utopia, not farther, because it is chaos and we still don’t know its laws. Utopia is what doesn’t exist anywhere, still. The great conquests of Man became a reality because someone dreamed of them first. They were premature truths.
We speak about hunger, dignity, education and freedom. We are talking about health, of being capable of choosing and deciding. So then, is it utopian to expect a salary for each person and the generalized access to Social Security, whatever necessary so that “nobody as poor as to have the need to sell oneself or as rich as to be able to buy someone off”?
It is not utopian with the wickers of the savage capitalism with which we will build a more just world. Likewise, the experience of what has been called “real socialism” in the old USSR, in China and in other countries has left a bitter taste in our mouths. They dreamed of a more just society and wanted to erect it through statistics and through economic laws. They built an immense prison in which liberties and basic human rights died. Human life is much more than an equation, it is the response to the fundamental challenge of our existence: it is precise to give some sense to our living, even if life didn’t make sense. The sense of living is to be happy, to be ourselves, to reach our plenitude and to assume the knowledge of a life according to nature.
Will the intrigue of destruction and death sustain the argument of life? No, so much insanity of confusing economic growth with social development, benefit with happiness and value with price is not possible. The duty of rebelliousness that has substituted the right to resistance in front of the new tyrannies when the weakest suffer has remained.
Like Jack Kerouac said, “We have to be celestial vagabonds, break free from the system and to throw ourselves to the highways to tell people that hope is possible.” Albert Camus exclaimed to us, “We have to talk. We have to raise our voice so that our sons don’t feel ashamed of us because having been able to do so much, we have dared to do so little.” Remaining silent in times of injustice makes us accomplices of injustice.
Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez