Bill McKibben’s 2005 article “The Cuba Diet” creates a brief, yet accurate, portrayal of various aspects of Cuban life. A primer: contemporary Cuba has a number of features which create an unprecedented case-study in various divisive subjects including politics, poverty and sustainability. It’s been painted as the world’s foremost self-sufficient, ecologically-responsible, food-growing nation, as well as a daunting example of the stark conditions and oppression that non-democratic states can foster. Accordingly, one’s first inclination is probably to place Cuba, regardless of whether a conscious or sub-conscious decision, on one end of a spectrum- utopia or hell- depending upon one’s previous understanding of the world.
We do this with nearly everything. We simplify in order to make our world more manageable, whether it be spiritual understanding, classification of individuals, thoughts on nutrition, so on and so forth. This is understandable, and not necessarily harmful in and of itself. To ask that one withhold from making decisions or passing judgment until one not only has access to all facts, but understands them, is to require the impossible. The variables involved in the affairs of reality are infinitely complex and ever-developing. Facing this impossibility, is paralysis the answer? No. To be rendered powerless by the complexities of the world is unnecessary. In this case, with complexity comes hope.
Rather than despair or inaction, an awareness of this process, and consequent humility, in dialogue especially, should be produced. We do what we can with what we have in front of us. And we do this with the hope that others will do the same. The whole of reality doesn’t easily fit into a box of our own creation- precisely because reality is much bigger than ourselves.