Fifty-five years of confrontation, misunderstandings, entrenched positions and distrust have turned relations between Cuba and the United States into an irrational nightmare that leaves all logic in human relations behind.
It’s very difficult these days to take a balanced approach when it comes to relations between Cubans and Americans. This is even more evident at the highest official levels on both sides.
For some time, I’ve found myself at the center of this problem. In my work as a business consultant, I’ve always believed that the most rational approach is to refrain from identifying with either side, the better to assist both. It’s impossible to produce any kind of useful analysis if it is only performed from a one-sided perspective. It’s not that an analyst won’t have perceptions that might tend to favor or disadvantage one of the parties, but it’s a matter of being intellectually honest and understanding that both sides need support.
In a way, it’s like having two children at odds with one another, and in order to mediate and offer the necessary advice, you must be able to deal with them in an impartial, balanced, and fair way so that both end up feeling favored.
Currently, trying to accomplish this task in a balanced way on any topic related to the U.S. and Cuba has become extraordinarily difficult. As a consequence of the confrontation developed between these two countries over the last 55 years, both camps are demanding “loyalty” from their sympathizers. Only those who “defend” tooth and nail the points of view of their own camp are accepted. Any kind of dissidence is understood practically as treason and the person who dares to engage in such an act is immediately seen – in the best case – as someone not to be trusted.
Differences from the party line or alternative interpretations are not allowed; only complete and active subordination to whatever the dogma happens to be, much like a catechism where not so much as a comma can be changed, because the source is divine.
The reasons for these attitudes are different on both sides and this kind of behavior has absolutely nothing to do with any of the statements being made by the other side. But that’s not what matters. What does matter is that in these situations, the most helpful thing is to have an open and cooperative attitude toward both, in order to understand their reasoning and their errors, and try to find a common meeting ground that will allow for surmounting the barrier of distrust and differences.
The most complicated part of this situation is that anyone who tries to assume this “rational” attitude runs the risk of being seen by both sides as untrustworthy. Each side will view this person as a “defender” of the “enemy” line, and therefore someone who ought to be sidelined.
This, as can readily be understood, is damaging for the process of rapprochement between the two countries, since it is precisely those who try to comprehend both sides who can help the most in bringing about change.
Of course, for those who truly desire that the United States and Cuba establish normal relations – neither carnal nor dogmatic, but simply NORMAL, the first step ought to be the assumption that the other side has its own doubts and perceptions, its reasons and methods, but above all, both must interact logically and rationally.
Changing the irrational idea of distrust is perhaps the most difficult task in the process of repairing and re-establishing relations between the two countries.
For those who work toward this objective and assume a balanced position, trying to find alternatives that might benefit both sides, incomprehension or even rejection, cannot be an obstacle. Perseverance is essential because it is the only way to reach the goal.
It must also be understood that this situation came about for reasons of its own, and therefore neither side will view their attitude as “irrational,” but rather something that has its own antecedents and therefore is quite “rational.”
It won’t change overnight. It will require plenty of patience and flexibility. As the saying goes, a thousand mile journey begins with the first step.