Some reflections on strange questions and abhorrent comments

Apr 29, 2018

I received an email from a reader who had a question, a last-minute query before boarding the plane to visit Cuenca.

I assumed it was a, “Just to put our minds at ease,” kind of question, and quickly assured her when she wrote, “I hope you don’t mind.”

I always say, “Of course, no trouble at all,” for I am as interested in their last minute questions as they probably are in my answers.

The purpose of the upcoming visit by the writer and her husband, she explained, was to see the place in person before making the decision to immigrate. She was also interested in recording their trip for the benefit of others, to shoot a blog that could be shopped around, a “Welcome to Cuenca! We’re newcomers!” video.

I heard from these folks frequently during the months leading up to their departure, and almost always, their questions could be answered with simple reassurance. But, not this one. This one was different. It was simple and to the point.

“How many bottles of water does it take to shower in Cuenca?”

* * * *

Shock does not convey what ignited in me when I saw the foul comments regarding a recent article about prejudice written by columnist Derek Hatcher. I was deeply saddened by the abhorrent, repellent and plain repulsive diatribes some people posted. Such ignorance is painful to read and difficult to withstand.

‘I prefer listening to college students debate important matters of the day.’

The question begs to be asked to each and every one of you racist bigots:

“Is it possible for you to explain to me how and why you chose to move here? Can you detail the factors, the many decisions, that lead you to move to a socialist country that outlaws guns, encourages and supports immigration for the downtrodden, invests in public health care, is building a light rail system for its citizens, is deepening economic and political ties with China at the expense of the United States, is a strong, steadfast, and long time supporter of Cuba, and what the revolution stands for, embraces LGBT rights, and elected as President a man who honors the name of Lenin?”

I’m just kidding.

It is a rhetorical question.

I’m not interested in what you have to say.

I prefer listening to college students debate important matters of the day while sipping coffee around the kiosk on campus. Their confidence in the future of their country, and their future in the world is clear-eyed, optimistic and progressive. They are working hard to attain their goals because they know the way to attain their goals is through working hard. Difficulty is no stranger, it is perched on the shoulders of the worn-down bodies of their grandparents.

I absolutely prefer listening in on a conversation while sitting at a table, cafe con leche in hand, chatting with friends about whatever comes to mind, a conversation that can last for hours.

And of course, I’d much rather hear children’s voices floating on little wings so breezy it is difficult to tell what is voice and what is breath.

I listen to Cuencanos and expats, working in consort, developing innovative strategies to position Ecuador as a regional political and economic leader. The country is already exercising its role-model status by welcoming refugees, serving as a magnet for academic and artistic studies, and leading the way globally by developing an efficient, sustainable, non-polluting energy policy that will make Ecuador almost completely self-sufficient quite soon (probably before I make my next confession).

I do not have time for you ignorant, spiteful, mean-spirited thugs. And, don’t kid yourself because you sure ain’t kidding me. Swinging the word “racist” around as if it were a club to beat others down is typical behavior. I see you. I know who you are.

But it is of little importance now.

Your days of darkness and racial hated are coming to an end. Soon night will engulf you.

You will leave no legacy for your community; no sermons will recall your generosity of spirit, your grace, kindness, and compassion.

There will be no friendly recollections of stories. No tales of good times spent in service to others will be spun with warm affection

There will be no candle lit in memory of your passing, no offerings in your name.

There will be no tears.

As I repelled your sword-like words meant to carve and slice and plunge and maim, I was strengthened in my resolve to never meet hatred with hatred, and I do not do so here.

Rather, I raise my joined hands to offer the best that I have for you.


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