The idea that America is the land of the free and Cuba a dictatorship is promulgated by many in the media.
But what if its the other way around?
It has been said that the poor are not only those who don’t have enough to survive but also those who always want more.
When we look at poverty through that lens, this is what we may observe.
Western culture is rooted in consumerism. Our economies depend on the production and sale of goods. It is no wonder that in order for this system to survive we must be convinced(brainwashed) to keep wanting more. This is no conspiracy theory. All it takes is a quick glance at the commercials on TV, billboards on the street, and pop ups on the internet to see what is going on.
Now Let’s take a look at our education system. Even this has become a business transaction. Schools compete for the money of potential students in return for what they say will be higher income opportunities. Knowledge is not given for the purpose of growing intellectually but for the purpose of finding a job. In other words, the overwhelming reason why many people choose higher education is so they can make more money.
Jose Mujica(president of Uruguay) once said, freedom is having the time to do what you want to do.
Where is most of our time spent? At work. Why? So we can pay for the things we want. Why do we want things? Because everyone around us has them or is in pursuit of more stuff. Does this lifestyle give us the time to do the things we love? No. Then are we free? Perhaps not.
There are alternatives. One imperfect model being what we see in Cuba. Obviously Cuba’s political situation is not a simple one and there are many problems with it, but I would like to focus on one good policy. Education is free. In theory it is intended to help people out of illiteracy. And it is the case that Cuba has one of the lowest rates of illiteracy in the world. Also, knowing that the career you choose is not necessarily going to increase your earning potential might lead people to study what they truly love. When you’re not bombarded with student loans and debt, than you are able to give more of your time to learning.
Learning should be the end goal not a means to an end.
I know that is a hard ideal to reach since we all need money to survive, but maybe we can strike a balance between making a living and truly living.
Ask yourself, “what do I really love to do?” “Do I have the time to do the things I love?” If not, than “why is that?”
If freedom is what we pursue, than maybe the current materialistic model is insufficient. Education(in its purest form) might be the key to achieving a greater form of freedom. Freedom to do the things we truly love.