She is a dissident. She lives in Cuba. She has a blog. So do I.
I write from a comfy chair, sipping a coffee that cost me less than a dollar. I write on a computer I purchased with my hard-earned money, that is connected to an Internet connection for which I pay a monthly fee. No one is standing outside my home watching me. No one is waiting to beat me because of the words I write. No one is preventing me from traveling outside of the country. I have the freedom to write what I want, when I want.
Yoani does not have an Internet connection most of the time. Obviously her words reach the world, but they do so in spite of her situation, not because of it. Not too long ago, she was beaten by government officials for her words. She was given an award for her blog, but she is not allowed to leave the country to receive it. There are people watching her every move. She and her husband are like prisoners, not because they are criminals, but because she dares to speak her mind.
We are two people, both writing blogs on the Internet, separated by only 90 miles. How is it that one of us is spoiled rotten by the freedoms we enjoy in the United States, and the other longs for the freedom – as Yoani puts it – to stand on the street and scream that there is no freedom?
I wish I could say that I worked and struggled hard to achieve my freedom. I wish I could say that my freedom came after many years of speaking out against injustice, or that I lobbied the government or fought for my God-given rights. I did nothing of the kind. My freedom was a gift. I am the recipient of the actions my parents and grandparents took many years ago. Even more important, my true freedom is a result of the greatest sacrifice the world has ever known. In many ways I am spoiled rotten. I don’t know what it is to be hungry. I don’t know what it is to be beaten into submission. I don’t know what it is to be denied basic human rights. From time to time I have to sit back and thank God for the blessings I have been given.
During these times, I also wonder what might have been. What would my life have been if my parents had not made the decisions they did? What if my parents never left Cuba? Would I be hungry today? Would I be in Cuba, and like Yoani yearn for a freedom she admits she does not completely understand? I can’t help but think what would have happened if my parents and others had stayed and fought the regime. Would Fidel have been defeated by those he lied to? Would true freedom and Democracy have come to Cuba? Maybe not. Maybe they would have been killed, and I would have never been born. Who knows?
But we cannot live in what would have been, only what is. Today I have freedom, and boy do I value that freedom. But my understanding of freedom today is not what it was years ago. The wisdom of my years causes me to have a better idea of what true freedom really is. You see, the freedoms we have today in the United States – while given to us by our creator – are administered by men – imperfect men. There will always be men willing and able to take that kind of freedom away from us if we allow it.
But there is freedom that man can never take away. The freedom of the cross is eternal. The freedom given to us as a result of His sacrifice on the cross can never be taken away by imperfect, fallen creatures. That is where my trust lies – the one that will never fail. That is my hope for Yoani and all the others that struggle in Cuba, the Middle East, and anywhere else where men use greed and power as an excuse to deny any human being the rights given to us by God. Regardless of what these men do, Jesus Christ frees us from this world. This is the freedom we can always trust and put our faith in.
Stay strong, Yoani, and press on. God has a plan for all of us.