2015 has begun with an emotional bang, and as the founder of a business that brings together people and stories and history, it feels right to take a moment to pause and take in the events going on around me.
I am the daughter of Cuban exiles. The recent changes in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba have shaken a constant that has existed my whole life. Whether I’m for the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba or not is less relevant than the core-shaking surprise that a major factor in my life has changed virtually overnight. My whole life, I understood that my parents–and by extension, their children–were refugees, but suddenly, I had to reflect on that identity. The Cuban exile community, together with the Cuban-American generation, reacted with anger, fear, hope, happiness, and sadness.
And then, on Wednesday, the attack at Charlie Hebdo in my beloved France. Like other tragedies witnessed during my lifetime, I’ll always remember where I was when I heard the news: I was at my desk, not doing anything groundbreaking, yet somewhere else some journalists were. It’s difficult for me to describe what I felt following the attacks. On Thursday night, I looked for tickets to Paris, to take my entire family next weekend to celebrate the place that for so many of us represents battles fought in the name of liberté, égalité, fraternité. (I tempered that impulse the next morning, though my heart longs to be with my French friends and colleagues.) As I watched the reactions on social media, I observed as a writer-friend who lives a few blocks away from the site collected Facebook comments from around the world, wrote them on index cards, and posted them in memoriam on the walls of the building. It felt to me like a cathartic and beautiful act, the continuation of free speech and friendship essential to our lives.
Through it all, I’ve stayed silent. Sunday, moved by the rallies across the world, I felt the obligation to say something, write something, post something. Because to have a voice—the right and a platform—and to stay silent feels wrong. Yet what could I possibly write that would sum up all of the turmoil in the world? What difference could a few words make?
And yet…There are people who wake up each morning and fight. They fight for the right to be. Fight for the right to speak. Fight for the right to love. Fight for the right to live. Then there are some of us who, thanks to those people, get to be, get to speak, get to love, and get to live. Some of us have to make the choice to join in the fight while others don’t have that luxury.
So on this day, when I am filled with gratitude and admiration, my decision is to get up tomorrow morning and remember what I’m fighting for. May I never forget to be thankful, and may I never forget that somewhere the fight goes on.