Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Letter of the Day | When giants die

Published:Monday | November 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Fidel Castro's death reminds us about what happens when giants die. His reach was global and on this our own little island, the people cheered when he came to say farewell to Michael Manley at the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

In my impressionable youth, I shook his hand at a reception on the yacht Granma, which was moored at the end of King Street. He possessed the charisma and commitment to transform the world. He used the knowledge he possessed as a trained lawyer and for those who do not agree with his ideas, it is necessary to recognise the worth of ideas. After all, he was contending with Batista, a dictator.


Self-serving ideas


There is a poem about the impact of people with ideas which we should remember. For Castro's generation, born between the first and second world wars, many ideas contended. Paradoxically, at this very moment between what might have been dubbed by some the culture wars, we are in conflict about globalisation, the reassertion of white supremacy and xenophobia, and we have seen the rise of many dwarfs promoting self-serving ideas.

History has absolved Fidel Castro and so in spite of his faults, his legacy includes a highly educated population, full of pride, resilient and healthy. There are people in exile who have suffered, but our own country, Jamaica, also has exiles abroad. All of the things the Cubans have been accused of, inclusive of torture, have also been employed by our mighty neighbour to the north.

We certainly need new giants to lift our minds and hearts out of the hateful rhetoric, inequality and violence which seem to have become the norm. There are many moments today of what eerily happened between 1919 and 1939 - the rise of racism, Nazism, communism, American isolationism. But counter-ideas and giants also arose, and that is our hope today. Leaders make mistakes but, as is the case with Castro, he loved his country and tried to make the world a better place.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling