This is a struggle in which we are all involved, of a social nature, and in which each one must impose on him/herself the condition of being responsible, for his own good and that of others.
By Ventura de Jesús
March 21, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Covid-19 continues to spread around the world, with increasing levels of infection and death. The signal is very clear: protocols for prevention and control must be followed, and very strict health rules must be observed in order to avoid at all costs contagion and the spread of the disease.
There are various measures and lessons to flatten the epidemic’s curve and the emphasis is on collective awareness, discipline, and individual responsibility.
In addition to strengthening hygiene care, experts warn that personal behavior is key. They recommend social distancing measures, such as voluntary quarantine and isolation, as well as avoiding displacement and crowding.
Others are aimed at not shaking hands and avoiding kisses, and trying to keep at least one meter away from other people, something whose benefit nobody doubts, but which to a certain extent is tormenting for Cubans, since they quarrel with habits that are deeply rooted in our society.
Visual and physical contact in Cuba does not have the same connotation as in other parts of the world. According to scholars, it is part of nature and responds to socio-cultural and historical phenomena.
Fortunately, there are those who have given up on the fraternal embraces, friendly romps and other approaches that usually characterize the encounters between acquaintances, friends and family on the island.
There are more and more people who greet you from a distance or give you an affective glance from afar. There are even those, the few, who pass by without looking. They believe that this does not hurt anyone’s feelings, and is healthy for the purpose of evading the Covid-19.
The truth is that putting aside, or postponing for the time being, the relationship of joyful camaraderie in the form of handshakes or necking, need not sour anyone’s character or be a source of laughter or mockery. Everyone should understand the reasons and not overlook the importance of caution, even against their will.
Despite many exhortations, many people still do not take this particular matter seriously, and there is no human power capable of persuading them that, for example, affectionate greetings should be avoided.
Perhaps that is why we Latinos, and particularly Cubans, are like that. There are those who think that a kiss does not hurt anyone and find it extravagant to greet each other with an elbow or with simple gestures from a distance. They consider it a useless torture and continue to obey that ancient custom of shaking hands or hugging a friend.
Although some do not seem to be aware of it, this pandemic is dangerous and causes countless setbacks, including some that are related to our daily habits.
Cubans, bound by affection and solidarity, must continue to work with serenity, security and discipline to successfully confront the new coronavirus, as President Miguel Díaz-Canel indicated.
On an individual level, this means not losing track of reality and looking at the faces of others with our hands on our hearts. In this way, we accompany the country’s decisions and do not fail in the will that guides us in this battle.
It is a struggle in which we are all involved, of a social nature, and in which each one must impose on themselves the condition of being responsible, for your own good and for that of others. For the time being, we must postpone some customary habits. It is convenient for everyone, for you and for me. It is the most prudent thing to do.