I have left the country and have once more become a City Mouse.
I have articles I put in "follow up" from months ago and read slowly, and occasionally. Today or rather this evening, just before dusk, I read a magazine article written by Mariane Pearl about Cuba.
I had several reasons why I wanted to read the piece: I remember how distressed I was by Ms. Pearl's tragic loss. Without much irony, I met several colleagues of Daniel Pearl just a few miles from where I am sitting now. I realized while getting misdirected, something different than lost, a couple of hours ago, that it is September 11, and another anniversary and more memories of loss.
And I was excited to read about Cuba, and pleased that in my lifetime North Americans may once again visit the country.
Castro in the 60s
Batista in the 60s
I have some memories, not of Cuba, but of Cubans I've met or known in the years since Castro had a Revolution, and Batista was overthrown. I have met rebels, Republicans, former Senators, and those eager to share and exchange biomedical theories and knowledge.
The former Senator I knew was a man I often had lunch with in the 60s. He left me with sharp memories of his fierce belief that Castro would be overthrown, but only after we finished eating our corn beef sandwiches. Yes, he had a great sense of humor. Unfortunately, his blood was spilled before I could grasp the significance of his misdirected hopes or reach a greater political maturity.
Years later, perhaps two decades in number, a man who looked nothing like my Senator, but who was clean shaven, slender and tall with impeccable manners entered my office and greeted me by name. I never did understand how my name reached into the infectious disease annals of this and another communist country, or how I could graciously express my regret that I was unable to exchange research material.
It is a great loss that my Senator is gone. It is a great loss to medical research that we were unable to exchange knowledge with the Cubans especially inasmuch as they were outstanding researchers and had first hand experience with human malaria, P. falciparum.
Mariane Pearl painted such a clear picture of her Cuba that I could close my eyes and step onto the street with her and her cousin, Julia.
Before I had my first morning coffee, I had received three news alerts that a shooting had occurred in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices, with possibly 12 dead.
All this was quickly confirmed on my public radio station by Democracy Now, and then BBC. The Guardian and the New York Times both had live feeds from Paris. With so many hours difference, it was not easy to keep up with what happened when.
Georges Wolinski Desk, Courtesy his Daughter by instagram
Although I often weep at death, I have a particular sensitivity to journalists deaths, and this murder is no different. Whether Charlie Hebdo's editors did right or wrong is not the question.
The bigger question is why "senseless killing?"
The Times just sent through its afternoon update with this headline.
Long before Theo van Gogh was killed in Amsterdam in 2004, it was clear that integration in Europe was fragile. It remains so, and perhaps increases with time.
It is unlikely we'll see much positive change as retribution seems to operate on a larger scale than compassion.