Fidel Castro hand in hand
with Russian communist
Barack Obama, gave this public statement upon the recent death of communist dictator, Fidel Castro:
“We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
I was content with my assessment of his statement until I came across a most profound quote in the book I'm currently reading, Assignment in Utopia, by Eugene Lyons. I would never have read this book had I not just previously read, Witness, by Whittaker Chambers, which I would also not have read had I not been paying close attention to several suggestions and remarks in the comment boxes of some of my favorite Catholic news websites. Thank you to whomever left that hint for me. You were truly the instrument of the Holy Spirit in that hour. In Witness, Chambers mentioned that there were a couple of things that extinguished his desire to be a communist and one of them was reading Eugene Lyon's book, published in 1937. When I read that, I stopped and immediately found a copy on line and ordered it. Any book with that much impact on a communist must be worth its weight in gold from a philosophical perspective . I am now about half way through it and I believe this too is a book that must be preserved and talked about and passed on to all generations.
Like Whittaker Chambers, Lyons was himself a committed enthusiastic communist. He was sent to Moscow in 1927 to report on the progress made in this new socialist utopia, ten years after the revolution, as a foreign correspondent for a communist newspaper headquartered in the USA. Believing that Moscow was his "spiritual home", he said this about his departure to Russia:
The farewell party arranged by my friends included the cream of the communist intelligentsia, with not a deviationist in the company. They were sending off one of their very own, proudly aware of his determination to use the opportunity for spreading the gospel whose fountainhead was in the Kremlin.
The following evening, December 31, 1927, on New Year's Eve, I sailed with Billy (his wife) and our five-year-old daughter, Eugenie, for the land of our dreams.
Within two years he was singing a different tune. Having seen the corruption, the lies, the propaganda, the suffering, the ineptitude, and the debauchery, his belief or what he called a "faith" in socialism began to crack. By 1929, Lyons began to see that "the 'line' of the ruling group acquired a disciplined hardness such as it had not possessed before." He wrote:
"In its first years the revolution had been warmly human even in its most brutal moments; I mean that it had been deeply and consciously idealistic, aware of suffering and sensitive to mass emotion. Now it became strangely impersonal and machine-like, important in its effects but as empty of real human content as a thunderstorm or flood. It was something decreed from above and therefore inescapable but largely unrelated to the wishes or wills of the people upon whom it operated for good or for ill. Small groups helped the process along with a bigoted fury; other groups fought against it with suicidal fury; the population as a whole simply accepted it helplessly as a natural calamity.
"The marvels of achievements against great odds and the horror of human wreckage and degradation alike were products of this impersonal spirit. .........................
"I know men and women without the ability to keep their own household accounts in order who have no hesitancy in tackling the godlike bookkeeping of human destiny that balances results against costs. They assert that the price paid was quite reasonable or dirt cheap or exorbitant, as the case may be. Their yardstick of measurement is History. But it is a yardstick made of rubber, since everything depends on whether they regard history as a span of ten years or ten thousand.
"The questions that pounded ever more insistently on the doors of my conscience and my mind (no one knows where thought ends and feeling begins) were of a different order. Dare any group of human beings, however wise and good they may count themselves, arrogate to itself the divine role of meting out death and suffering to the rest of mankind? The Biblical legend, crystallizing countless ages of mortal suffering through mysterious agencies beyond their control, tells of the divine anger that flooded a world with death, sparing only Noah and the creatures in his magic ark. It tells of Sodom and Gomorrah wiped out by divine wrath. Most tribes and religions have similar fables. What I saw was a handful of men in the Kremlin translating those fables into fact, assuming for themselves the supernatural prerogative.
"Without hesitation, they doomed millions to extinction and tens of millions to inhuman wretchedness in the mystical delusion of their divine mission. (They called it 'historical' instead of 'divine.') Could one grant them this prerogative, even in principal, without justifying every self-righteous maniacal minority that decides to enforce its visions on humanity by wars, inquisitions, and dictatorships? Anyone who decided to torture and kill one man or woman for the good of the victim's unborn great-grand children would be adjudged insane. Is he any less insane when he decides to torture and exterminate millions of men and women for the good of their unborn posterity? Have only the unborn generations a right to happiness, so that the anguish of the living generation is a trifling investment for its great-grandchildren?
"A thousand things may snatch the theoretical happiness from the coming generation; it may even have a different concept of happiness than the group now brandishing 'the sword of history.' Only the anguish of the living generation is real and indubitable.
"If it is permissible to exterminate a sector of humanity for the sake of History, then there is no sensible reason for drawing the line at five million or five hundred million. Drown them all, comrades, leaving only a he-Stalin and a she-Stalin in their monolithic ark to start things over again from scratch."
When I read this I felt I truly understood what Obama meant. He said that he believes only "history can judge" and only a future generation can know if any currently imposed suffering is worth it. Can it be any clearer that his own attitudes and beliefs are in sync with the dreams and aspirations of the worst most devious minds of the twentieth century? There is no excusing the actions of a dictator based on some personally held dream or plan or desire for a better world. Suffering is real and the Church teaches us that evil may not be used as an instrument for some imagined good. Given the freedom to express their own opinion on this, I have no doubt the people of Cuba would heartily agree.
Cubans celebrate the death
of their oppressor
History is not the judge, nor will it ever be. However often we might say, "only time will tell," it must not be assumed that our sins and transgressions will be forgiven as long as things work out well in the unknown future for others beyond our knowing. Judgment is upon us in our own time whether we like it or not and it behooves us all to persevere in virtue and be prepared to face it.