To care or not to care. Are these the options? by Eduardo Cervino

Jean Valjean

Jean Valjean

Whether it is possible for a fair, reasonable person to remain oblivious to current political trends in the US. Or to abhor the hatred and jingoism vomited by righteous porters of bibles and guns.

If this sentence strikes a chord, make no mistake. It’s meant to provoke you.

Can you pass beyond the cheap literary hook?

Can you share with me the outrage against those forked-tongued politicians, preachers and televangelists poisoning people’s minds?

What can I do to awaken empathy for the millions among us at the margin of society?

Are we becoming a nation of psychopaths?

A nation where puppets of the rich govern for the benefit of the rich.

A nation where legislators criminalize poverty, and police arrest good men who feed the hungry.

A nation so arrogant that it takes pride in bucking the trends of the industrialized world. Refuses free education and affordable health care for all. Reduces child welfare, increases control of women’s reproductive rights, and promotes inequality.

A nation that revives the discredited philosophy of Ayn Rand, thereby raising the pursuit of money to the level of a satanic cult.

A nation that tramples over honest but less fortunate citizens

The majority of Americans refuse to see that abstaining from voting allows the nation’s oligarchy to solidify its control over our system of laws.

We agree that congressmen are for sale to the higher bidder, like whores in a Wild West bordello. But our refusal to vote gets them re-elected by 13% of eligible voters.

How many legislators enter office possessing a moderate net worth and leave as millionaires?

Coolidge, the 30th president of the US, said, “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” That canon served the interest of the entire people well.

Now, however, the avarice of the 1% has created despicable new sources of revenue. It has converted education of the nation’s youngsters into a business.

Have we forgotten that education is the foundation of the country’s future?

It’s no coincidence that incarcerated citizens in the US exceeds the number in other industrialized countries combined. Sweden has closed four prisons for lack of inmates. But in the US, prison construction is a growth industry more profitable than home building

Greedy CEOs have converted the pharmaceutical industry and health services into businesses dealing with life and death. It’s more accurate to say dealing with preserving the lives of those who can afford the best at the expense of hurting those who cannot.

The war on drugs is another profit center. A large sector of the armed forces pursues smugglers. Those resources could be allocated to rehabilitation of the users. This is crazy, the equivalent of trying to cut the supply and let the demand increase.

Millions of citizens have died of tobacco smoking. When was the last time you heard of anyone dying from smoking marijuana? Yet we subside the tobacco industry while resisting legalization and taxation of marijuana in most states.

Does all this sound to you like a successful, exceptional society or a failed one?

How can we fix the future if we believe things are perfect, contrary to all statistical evidence? In reality, we are number seven in literacy, twenty-seven in math, forty-nine in life expectancy, but number one in defense expending and religious belief.

By now you may say, complaints, complaints. What can we do?

We should start by removing the For Sale sign from the Capitol building. About 150,000 wealthy individuals in the country contributed the great percentage of money spent in the races in an effort to manipulate the uneducated masses. They invest billions of dollars to buy loyalty from senators and representatives.

The average legislator spends thirty to seventy percent of his or her time in office raising money for the next campaign. What do you think they give away in exchange for the money they receive?

Their yearly salary increase, or cutting taxes for the 150,000 donors?

Increasing regulations of the banksters and larcenous Wall Street speculators, or cutting the peoples’ right to heath care and education, children’s’ Head Start programs, and soldiers’ mental health care?

Please, my fellow Americans, teach your children to vote. Better still, take them with you when you vote. Stop the madness before we regress to the times of the pre-industrial revolution, if we are lucky, of those of Genghis Khan if not.


Eduardo Cervino was born in Havana, Cuba, where he studied art and architecture. The Castro revolution failed to deliver on its promises of freedom, prosperity, and peace. Eduardo refused the communist regime’s indoctrination. Instead, he voiced his opposition and ended in an agricultural forced labor camp. In time, he moved to Madrid, Spain.

To leave his loved ones hit him like a ton of bricks. The pain seeded his heart with an overwhelming desire to give a hand to the fallen and join any group dedicated to healing the hurting.

After arriving in the USA, he wrote his memoirs. Eduardo found great satisfaction in writing. In New York City, he renewed his painting career. Since then, he has combined painting, architecture, and writing to quench his curiosity and express his awe for life’s wonders.

He has traveled throughout the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Canada. In the USA, Eduardo has resided in Havana, Cuba; Madrid, Spain; New York City, Denver, and Phoenix.

“Life’s ups and downs make it a marvelous experience,” he said. “But only if we cultivate an ever-growing circle of friends to share it with.”

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20 thoughts on “To care or not to care. Are these the options? by Eduardo Cervino

  1. Trish Jackson

    Eduardo, you are treading on very contentious ground! I’m just going to post two quotes in response:

    When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. ~~ Thomas Jefferson

    “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
    ~ ~Abraham Lincoln

  2. Bryan Murphy

    This morning, I read in Doris Lessing’s autobiography, “… it is a mistake to exclaim over past wrong-thinking before at least wondering how our present thinking will seem to posterity.” Apart from the obvious, like future generations’ puzzlement over our addiction to cigarettes, cars and television, I imagine they will find it hard to understand our current subservience to market fundamentalism. Even in Europe, we are witnessing systems that offered health and education for all being sold off piecemeal to the highest bidder, without a public vote or public endorsement. As Eduardo shows, this prostration before Mammon is actually regression, not progress in any sense of the word. I trust it will go the way of feudalism and communism before it, to leave us wondering how it ever could have taken over our minds.

  3. Monica Brinkman

    Eduard, perhaps it is fear more than anything else that keeps people from bonding together across all religious or political lines for the good of the nation and the world. Yes, there is corruption in almost every vein of life but I also believe people know it and see it.

    I hope for a day when we are all brave enough to communicate with each other openly, without party line infliction, and remember we are all people of one nation. The saying, United we Stand, Divided we Fall rather sums it up.

  4. Diane Piron-Gelman

    I am reminded of the crystal moral clarity of Matthew 25:31-46. If we are going to call ourselves a nation of decent people–whether framed in the Christian tradition or not–we must do right by one another. We may disagree as to the means (you call it “Big Government”, I call it “promoting the general welfare”; you bless private acts of charity, while I call them good but insufficient), but surely we cannot disagree as to the ends. Do we care, or do we not? Do we feed, clothe, educate, give succor to, or do we turn away–giving in yet again to the consummate sin of indifference?

    Too often these days, it seems we choose the latter. The call to balkanize, tribalize, and care nothing for those beyond one’s own self-defined “tribe” drowns out what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” We need to listen again, have heart again. However we reach that place of caring, we need to do it.

    Thank you, Eduardo, for raising your voice and asking questions that need to be asked.

  5. John B. Rosenman

    Eduardo, I’ve heard much of this before, and I agree with much of what you say. America is a country of many misplaced values and hypocrisy–political, religious, and otherwise. A famous American wit once said, “We have the best politicians that money can buy.” And we still do. Why do we have so many prisoners and prisons compared to other civilized countries? Lord, do we still subsidize the tobacco industry? Those who ask hard questions aren’t always popular. This essay needed to be written, and written in the way you wrote it.

  6. Delinda

    I find Eduardo piece challenging on several fronts. First, I also write political/economic commentary. I too am concerned about the role of money in our society and the roll money plays in our current political policy. Our current economic situation is unsustainable, and we do need to address the issues that create the instability.

    One of the issues in our country that is creating instability is the blanket condemnation of whole groups of people. We condemn the rich and the poor, the employed and the unemployed, people of color and people with light skin and as Eduardo demonstrated, we condemn people of faith along with the ruthless. We Cannot Continue To Condemn Whole Groups of Diverse People. Are some rich people greedy SOB’s who create more poverty through their greed. Certainly. We also see many wealthy people who quietly go about the business of giving away their wealth. Do black people commit crimes. Certainly some do, but most are wonderful citizens who work hard to build up our country. Do professed Christians commit human rights violations? Unfortunately, some are just way off base. However, most people of faith, go about practicing their faith quietly–feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and loving their neighbor,

    Step one to building our country into the strong, healthy nation we long for is to learn to work together by not judging the many by the outrageous actions of the few.

    1. Monica Brinkman

      Well said Delinda.
      I believe when we can communicate with each other it will open the gap. I recall speaking with an author who visited Israel for peace negotiations. Who would go to the local bar where varying religious groups frequented. He would join people together through conversation of their similarities and by the end of the evening, instead of being mortal enemies, people were embracing each other as human beings. They’d end up laughing together, joking, and enjoying each other’s company.Of course a story such as that would never be placed on the news media – not scandalous enough.

      For one moment, one hour, one day, one week, one month, I’d love to see our people in the US toss off preconception, judgment and righteousness and speak of the things that are of mutual concern. They would surely find they have much in common, more than they would ever have believed.

      Quit trying to be ‘right’. Open your ears, your eyes and your heart – listen and work together.
      There is so much good within our nation’s people be they rich, poor, black, white, Christian, Jewish, blue-collared or white collared. Why not allow it to shine!

  7. Micki Peluso

    This is a commentary making some good points–some not so good. One of the problems might be that as a free country–although that is slowly eroding–we are going to have things we like and things we don’t–that’s choice. Second, as a melting pot we are a highly diverse nation with many different and conflicting opinions; also what comes with freedom. Do we want to lose this? As a journalist I wrote many articles like this but all of us tend to complain about the situation while doing nothing to change it–fiddling while Rome burns, so to speak. I don’t see where your condemnation of religion fits into this essay as we are a nation of many beliefs. And no one forces us to choose one–yet.

    You’ve made some point worth thinking about. Remember as John F. Kennedy said; “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of yhe problem. This country includimg most of us has grown lazy and lathargic and it will be the end of us.

  8. Kenneth Weene

    I know that there are members of the blog who will take issue with this piece. Indeed, some have already done so in emails within the blog community. I hope our visitors also have strong reactions to this piece and I sure hope they share them with us by leaving comments, which it may take a bit of time to get posted. It is interesting to me that there are those who cloak greed behind Christianity—I am sure Jesus would not share that view, but what do I know? I also know that there are many who would say that without the self-preoccupied creativity Ayn Rand proposed there would be no real creativity. As a devotee of theater and symphony, I know that there is another side to that position. The real bottom line is that we do seem to be at a point of choice not just in America but in the Euro-American world. Do we value the community and empathy or the creation of wealth and selfishness. I’m not sure that we can’t find a good middle ground, but I think that Eduardo has done us all a great service by raising these questions.

  9. Louise Malbon-Reddix

    Hello Everyone,

    Good Morning,

    These hearts of ours. And looking here at these remarks, it tells me that all of them have been hurt, at one time or another, and by somebody somewhere or another, and are speaking out of that hurt, and are clearly running for cover. It is so easy to paint this life with a broad brush, be it religion, be it money, be it politics, or whatever you want to call your brush. But I beg you right here and right now to not hurt each other any more. It is true, hurt people hurt others.

    I want to assure each and everyone of you, that if I cut you, you WILL bleed red blood! You are all a part of the human race, be you red, yellow, black, green or purple! And you all have the right to be who you are and say what you want. Since somebody called my name, here is the deal! I live each and everyone of you from the bottom of my Christian Soul, and there ain’t ( bad language intended) nothing you can do about it! Do not group me in the group of “bad”, out of touch time, high falutin’, rigid, non-forgiving “Christians” or whatever the correct terminology is at this time. I look at your heart, and I do not have a Heaven or a Hell to put you in. I take what comes to me one issue at a time and I do what I can with whatever has been presented to me at that time. Stop demonizing me because of what you have been through in your life!!! I have my own problems, and am doing the best I can with what I have. Do not try to take away my Jesus though, because He loved and loves me when no one else does!!! When you look at me as black or fat or a woman or a “Christian” I know where I can go to find refuge. And I still return, ready for duty, so to speak, trying to help whoever I can in what ways I can as I too sojourn through these days and times and trials.

    Now , “Can We All Just Get Along?” I like this comment to I saw on the blog: “Remember as John F. Kennedy said; “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of yhe problem. This country includimg most of us has grown lazy and lathargic and it will be the end of us.”

    And like the little girl said to the person who passed her by on the beech, and asked her why was she wasting her time throwing starfish back into the sea because so many of them were being washed ashore; “It made a difference to that one!” Well you all are important to me. You welcomed me warts and all, and now you are leaving? Say it ain’t so!!! One bad apple does not ruin the whole basket. And growing up poor like I did, you just cut out that bad piece in that apple, and as long as there was not a worm in it you ate it!!!’

    Love you now,
    Louise Malbon-Reddix

  10. Clayton Bye Post author

    People have weighed in on today’s post in some strong ways. And that’s perfectly acceptable. Some have left our blog over this, and if they can’t come to the table with a sense of harmony–even though we are a disparate group–then I believe they should do so. Better they leave than the harmony of the group be fundamentally disturbed. With this said, discussions regarding politics, religion and business tend to bring out the fire in people and, perhaps, should be approached with an extra sense of reserve. In fact, I believe that we, as a global people, must learn to tolerate the views of others. On the other hand, if you see an obvious evil in the world and do nothing about it, then you have become part of that evil. This is a tough place to be, as what you see as evil is based upon what you believe.

    So, what I’m going to finish with is this: rather than chastise those who have left us because of a challenge to their beliefs, why don’t we support, in harmony, those of us who have chosen to stay. The Write Room Blog has so far been a place where you can write about what you choose. And as long as it remains a fair place to do so, then write away. Just remember that I, as publisher, reserve the right to strike out any blog post or comment made.

    Have a great day everyone!

    Clayton Bye
    Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Write Room Blog

  11. Cherrye S. Vasquez

    Hello All!

    Some of you are new to me, but I was once a part of the fabulous writing group.

    I read Eduardo’s article twice because after I read some of the flaming comments, I wondered what I missed. Come on guys – Aren’t we writers and authors? Aren’t we taught to grab our audiences (readers) attention right at the beginning? Isn’t this called our “hook?”

    I think Eduardo did a great job reeling readers in to read more, and then even more. He gave us the “hook” needed to keep reading, and in my case I read it again.

    I believe, perhaps it was the first paragraph that got some all riled-up. Was it this paragraph?

    Whether it is possible for a fair, reasonable person to remain oblivious to current political trends in the US. Or to abhor the hatred and jingoism vomited by righteous porters of bibles and guns.

    If so, could it be Eduardo was telling a story from his environmental experience — thus his worldview? I guarantee you that IF Eduardo spent time using words to describe someone who many feel demeaning or evil, or someone whose policies, ways of life, or actions you don’t like; many would be JUST FINE with Eduardo’s comments. Let’s be honest here, okay?

    Although there are so many wonderful religious Christians in our mix (thank God), Could it be true that some of us know people who falsify religion as they walk around haughtily toting bibles, but in sheep’s clothing thinking they are fooling some of us? I can think of at least one person I came to realize was a devil in disguise, but if no one knew him like I came to know him over time, would think highly of him because “boy he can certainly pray!”

    Is it fair to say Eduardo is one bad apple because he shared his thoughts and opinions from his perspective? Isn’t this what many of us did when we wrote our articles for the “The Write Room blog?” I remember writing an article for this blog I felt was marginalized. It was about my experience as a young child growing up in my dark hue skin. I didn’t get upset when comments came in using the word “colored.” Why? There are many who identify with the word “colored” due to the era in which they grew up (a time this term was used to describe black or African-American people). Now the term is: “people of color” go figure. Anyway, did it shock me, or make me feel a tad bit uncomfortable? Perhaps so, but I did not get angry or upset? We have to have tough skin, learn what is revealed through writing, and then move on. Sometimes we can learn more about people, their feelings, and true worldviews via silence and observation.

    Why not share our thoughts, experiences and “take” on life’s issues? Isn’t this what democracy and free speech is all about, my friends?

    I was recently harassed when I wrote an article that was published in HERS magazine, and then again on the website of Project R.A.C.E. I titled my article, “Are Biracial Children Damaged?” As many of you know, I am in an interracial marriage and my husband and I have a beautiful biracial daughter. Lord knows, I was not alluding to the belief that biracial children are damaged!!!! One person who read my article missed the “hook” and storyline badly. This person said my title was offensive, and this was the sort of title that hinders the movement. Geez! Did she miss! I believe she did, but let us not miss Eduardo’s “punch line.”

    I wonder if we could learn to remove the color barriers, talk about marginalized issues using friendly dialogue and discourse while agreeing to disagree in professional, kind manners, if we could truly get past race and political issues.

    I’ve always been afraid to question God, but a co-worker of mine said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God why he did some of the things he did.”

    I’ll tell you friends, I believe diversity makes us interesting. We learn so much from one another, but I wonder if we were all shaped round and colored purple, would we love one another, or discover something different among us that we could pick apart finding fault.

    I’m just wondering today about the impact of Eduardo’s article — the comments – supporters and non-supporters. I think it’s just a good time to reflect!

    Peace to all and Happy Thanksgiving!!

  12. Salvatore Buttaci

    First of all, each of us should be given the right to share our ideas here. We cannot expect total agreement because this forum is not a mutual admiration society but one of writers who have committed themselves to promoting the works of one another. Voltaire’s often quoted line holds true here. Defending the right to speak out does not necessarily suggest one is in favor of it. As a Christian I find many of the inequalities Eduardo mentions to be true in our world and in our nation today, but the preaching of the Bible is not to shoulder the blame for these inequalities. America is not perfect. And it is true that the poor and middle class are deprived of universal healthcare and this is wrong in a nation that preaches compassion. So there is much to reflect upon in Eduardo’s article. We mustn’t be afraid to listen, comment, agree or disagree in a fashion of which we can be proud.

  13. James Secor

    I cannot understand the hooplah Eduardo caused, most notably in the religious realm many have used to leave. Where the hell is the religious damnation in this piece? Where the hell is the caring that might help put a stop to the horror that is the US? Many of us have engaged in the very behavior Eduardo condemns, the politicians like and they themselves find useful. I found a plethora of religious reasons for hating Eduardo and his piece in my e-mail box and yet I find religion mentioned, in great generality, twice. There seems to have been some communication generated here; but the best of it was reserved for personal rationalization and a reason for non-communication. I’d write a rebuttal but I can’t: I agree with Eduardo. I’ve been satirizing and critiquing US society since the late 1960s. One way or another, I’ve never stopped. I suggest we read, if we’ve not, “The Question of German Guilt” by Karl Jaspers. Replace all reference to Germany with the US. Playing the denial chip is no more than kowtowing to Prof. Pangloss’s “this is the best of all possible worlds.” Isn’t it interesting that the Republican right states are RED states, like communist, dictatorial and tyrannical states are red?

  14. James Secor

    The more I think of this situation, I must amend my comment. The vituperation and, especially, the desertion are simple denial. Rationalizations abound to explain their point of view. With particular individuals, I am as aggressive and in-your-face as Eduardo; however, my weapon of choice is social satire, absurdism. Often enough, that absurdist expression comes off as black humor.

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  16. Martha Love

    I thought this was a profoundly well written piece about the importance of voting and not becoming sheep to those who would lead us for their benefit rather than for our country and its people.


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