Hard Christmas 2017

By Luis Manuel Aguana

Maybe I can not exaggerate if I say that this Christmas has been the hardest we have ever lived in Venezuela since we are Republic. Today with a full month's pension, the old people of this country would not buy a full kilo of chicken or cheese. But that, although you do not believe it and far from what you may think, is not the most serious thing.

The regime, by gradually destroying the product of the work of all of us, has created a perception of sadness in the spirit of the people. And why do I say perception? Because when things go wrong, human beings are naturally saddened by a conscious decision. Normally and instinctively, we look for culprits, and in this case, very justifiably, we endorse it to the regime that governs us. But that emotion comes out of a condition that as human beings we produce and make it a reality because the perception of that destruction is reality...

And you will say is it not a reality that the regime has destroyed everything we had? What has destroyed the currency, our main industry and goose that lays the golden eggs of PDVSA, the production of food and medicine, democracy, freedom, the country... is that a perception? No, it is not. But, no one can influence your reactions if you don't let them. And that sadness is what we unfortunately decided to feel in the face of this aggression. We have all been negatively influenced by the actions of criminals. And maybe that has caused our mistakes to multiply. That is why I say that the most serious thing is not what the regime has done to us but the answers we have decided to give for what they have done to us, among them that paralyzing sadness, generating anger, frustrations and mistakes. Maybe it's time to change that.

Nelson Mandela was sentenced to 27 years in South Africa for conspiracy. When he came out, his attitude could have been one of ferocious hatred against a segregationist regime, dedicated to raising the country against the white minority. Mandela was not an exceptional human being because he has never felt anything against those who mistreated and imprisoned him for much of his life, but because he was able to consciously dominate those emotions and actively do something positive with them. His attitude as a political leader was to achieve national reconciliation as an objective of his presidency:"during his government he emphasized forgiveness and reconciliation, since - as he himself asserted -" the brave do not fear forgiveness, if it helps to promote peace" (see Nelson Mandela, in https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela).

Likewise, Mahatma Gandhi, after graduating as a lawyer in London, which he considered the "cradle of philosophers and poets, the center of civilization," decided to accept an employment contract in South Africa where he "became interested in the situation of the 150,000 compatriots. who resided there, fighting against the laws that discriminated against the Indians in South Africa through passive resistance and civil disobedience ... when his contract was terminated, he prepared to return to India. At the farewell party in his honor in Durban, leafing through a newspaper, it was reported that a law was being drafted in the Natal Legislative Assembly to deny the vote to the Indians. He postponed his return to India and devoted himself to the task of preparing various petitions, both to the Assembly of Natal and to the British government, trying to prevent that law from being approved. " (ver Mahatma Ghandi, en https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi).

The attitude of these characters to their life situation made the difference. Mandela because he decided not to hate and reconcile with his enemies and Gandhi because he decided to serve others and protect them from abuse, abandoning his status as a privileged professional. That is what made them different and outstanding. They did not decide what others did, they decided on themselves what attitude to put before the other. A fundamental difference that translates into transferring the problem to the real protagonist: You.

If the regime is making life impossible for us, what will we actively do to prevent it, or better yet, to reverse it? Will we keep what is decided by those in the official opposition who have dedicated themselves to surrendering the country? Or will each Venezuelan decide in their immediate surroundings how they will react -whichever it is- to what is happening? Sadness, depression and paralysis can't be an option because there is now less or nothing to put on the Christmas table. I have witnessed on my travels through Venezuela that those who have the least are those who first generously share their food with you without knowing you. You don't see that in many parts of the world. Our people are unique. That's why I would never change this country for another.

And maybe this Christmas is different because of that. God put us to cut in pieces the scarce bread that we have and share it because another does not have enough to eat. A carpenter travelled for miles with his pregnant wife on December 24th without getting shelter because he had no place to go, ending up in a stable because of the charity of his owner. I believe that we Venezuelans are now in a similar predicament: extreme poverty in the midst of the most desperate situation. And I ask myself: what will be the attitude? That of letting oneself be overcome by adverse circumstances or persevere until getting that stable? Humanity is full of examples where that single decision changed the course of history. The Mandela and Gandhi cases are an example of how a life decision changed the story of two countries.

Today we are contemplating the attitude of those who decided to surrender contrary to a whole country and are now negotiating our destiny. What if they finally surrender Venezuela, would we, too? I don't think so because they stopped representing the aspiration of the majority that pronounced on 16J. In addition, Venezuela's history has been very different from that, especially in the hardest times. And if only one of us does not give up, it will be enough to keep burning the hope of many.

Christmas in 2017 will indeed be very hard. But not because of material shortages. They are hard because Venezuelans will be forced to change, to share and to dispose ourselves of a new course for Venezuela, deciding what attitude to take in the face of a reality to which we cannot escape. It is really a dilemma of life, but it is also a gift, which if we understand it in its profound magnitude will decide the future of the country.

However, only in this way will we be able to wish ourselves a Merry Christmas, because if we assume the right attitude, the result will be the same as the night of Bethlehem in the midst of the most intense uncertainty: the Blessing of Almighty God and His Holy Spirit, who by the birth of His Son in the midst of the greatest poverty gave to those who believed in Him, the most valuable of all gifts: salvation....

Receive all my dear readers a Merry Christmas 2017 and may God bless you.

Caracas, December 23, 2017

Twitter:@laguana