This is a fictional story based on Freedom.
Twenty two year old Clara has a research paper to write for her sociology course on the topic: “What is Freedom.” Her Dad, Tomas, is sitting on a green wing-chair peering into his iPad.The curtains are waving delicately as the breeze caresses the spacious, airy living room.
“Here is an interesting article I am just reading on Cuba in the National Geographic November 2012 edition. Its says: Cuba's new now,” Tomas is describing what he is reading without looking up.
“Interesting – Cuba is quite a paradox,” Clara is responding looking inquisitively at her Dad.
“Some people there believe its a place where a kid can grow up so safe, get his vaccinations, get his education,and not be involved in gangs or drugs – that's one side of the complexity of the paradox.”
“Others feel there is nothing by way of personal advancement and material comfort to anybody except for the Big Fish,” Clara is adding as her Dad takes a momentary glance up from his iPad with a knowing smile.
“Peces Gordos—that's what the Cubans call the Big Fish,” Tomas is translating as he exaggerates a Spanish accent.
“ I heard that there have been changes allowing people to buy and sell houses and cars openly, obtain bank loans, and work legally for themselves in a variety of small businesses.”
“Yes – rather than being obliged to work for the state,” her Dad reflects.
“But this is where complexity and contradiction begins—this path can lead to unconstrained individualism—the potential impacts to free health and education—Cubans may look around and reflect on the environmental havoc caused by out-of-control expansion in other countries and international, economic affliction.” Clara is theorizing thoughtfully, and she considers this discussion may be relevant to her research paper on freedom.
Clara drifts back to her bedroom, logs into her Apple Macbook Pro,and opens up Safari – her last page in her reading history is displayed: Encyclopedia Britannica —Christopher Columbus. “Quite a coincidence with the conversation with my Dad,” she is thinking, “just rewind it to around 500 years ago—and history is written that Columbus landed on Cuba.”
Clara scrolls through the Columbus article and is reading: “Columbus's obsessions with lineage and imperialism, his zealous religious beliefs, his enslaving of indigenous peoples, and his execution of —”
Her cell phone rings loudly and and she grabs it instinctively as she sees ’Mia’ appear on the call display , “— Hello Mia.”
“I’m working on the research paper on Freedom—how is your portion coming along?” Mia is asking.
“Look Mia you may find this interesting —an article I found on Christopher Columbus. Listen to this,” and Clara starts to read. “The destructive side of the European conquest – the disastrous impact of the slave trade and the ravages of imported disease on the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean region and the American continent.”
“It's ironical that he felt that his discoveries were divinely ordained— that he had reached the outer region of the Earthly Paradise,” Mia added to the conversation, “I can see that we can perhaps tie these thoughts into our paper on Freedom.”
They hang up the call.
“Yes this discussion on Columbus is definitely related—this is where it all started in a sense. The freedom skill and imagination to sail, to explore, to discover,” vivid thoughts are running through Clara's fertile imagination, “but somebody once said, ’the more freedom we enjoy, the greater the responsibility we bear, toward others as well as ourselves.’”
Clara clicks on the Microsoft Word icon on her laptop and it opens a blank document. She gives herself a long stretch – both feet and hands- pulling in opposite directions and then commences to type:
“Do high cranes, scaffolding, and huge deepwater rig exploration really represent modernistic progress? With expansion like a rolling storm of self-destruction, are we simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life in this information age, knowledge-and-post-industrial-economy?
Do the might and power of unbridled wealth, like giant subterranean plates squeezed together in elastic strain ,represent a forewarning of a colossal, tectonic economic-quake. Like the shedding of the old exoskeleton through the process of molting, are we at a stage to cast off the encasing of this industrial-information-age armour?
How does freedom taste? Does it taste like Coca- Cola – delicious, refreshing, exhilarating, invigorating as it revives and sustains imparting real life, real taste? Or does it taste like the scrumptious, euphoric, mouth-watering,savoury, natural taste of a freshly-picked peach when trekking through a hilly terrain?”
Clara thoughtfully gets up from her chair,thoughts running through mind:” What do human beings need? What do they owe to each other? What do they want, beyond what they need?”
She walks to the other side of her room to a wooden, framed picture of a wrinkled woman with a blue and white head-cover lifting a child. Underneath the picture is a quote:”If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
Clara nods her head like if some great wisdom has suddenly dawned on her. She walks back to her computer and takes a glance back at the picture,and from the distance it seems like the woman has disappeared and the only object visible is the smiling eyes of the child.