Shutdown: Somber Vigil

I am immensely grateful to have lived in a democracy for over half a century.  

Tonight my soul is troubled, my mind so full of words that I can’t get them on the page quickly enough.  They come in waves of indignation, in waves of pain, in waves of disbelief.  They come with the urgency of a siren announcing the arrival of a deadly tornado, and with the mortal fear of a child who is witnessing her father being held at gunpoint.  

Then they stop. Abruptly.  Interrupted by the sound of actual sirens outside our window: four police cars headed to….an accident?  Suddenly the sky opens up and the sound of pouring rain overtakes all others in the once quiet, peaceful night.

“Who do you think you are?” They say. “You, the Cuban Pedro Pan, are undermining the very government that granted you freedom by supporting this so called democratic party, this president who does not look like us.  We can’t let him have his way. He is going to destroy our country.  You are wrong to support him.  Look at him.  He refuses to negotiate.  He would rather see his country fail.”  Sardonic smiles don’t quite hide the murky eyes, the windows to troublemaker souls.

The rain quiets.  My spirit doesn’t.

My blog is read in many countries.  In some by only one person.  I take that responsibility to heart, and I don’t speak off the cuff.  I sometimes don’t speak for months since I have become aware of the sacredness of words.  But I want to speak tonight.  I want to speak loud into this night.  Or perhaps very softly into this night so that you will have to come close to listen.  Yes, all of you politicians, all of you members of the House, the Senate, all who govern this country with such carelessness:


There are children here.  They are multicultural and multicolored like the rainbow.  Like the rainbow they bring us hope. Some are rich, most are not.  All are worthy of our nurturance and care.  All are counting on us to preserve this land of freedom where they can sew the seeds of their technicolor dreams.



Children who are watching as we proclaim our love for God at our churches and go home to words of discord and hatred for our brothers and sisters.  Children who may one day write a blog from another country lamenting the travails of their lives in exile, yearning for the childhoods they were robbed of, or spewing the hatred and living out the hypocrisy of the elders who taught them nothing about love.


Let’s watch out for them.  Let’s watch out for them when they need healthcare, food stamps, education, when they cry in the night.  Let’s watch out for the child in the tattered clothes on the bare mattress who has lost all hope of dreams and is inches away from discovering the power of a gun.  


mourning the absence of prayers school when you don’t utter one prayer in your own home.  telling women not to kill their unborn children when you think nothing of allowing children to live in poverty and die of hunger.  When you send those fetuses you fought so hard for to die in wars driven only by your greed.

The words are tired.  

Once they told you about a child in Bethlehem who grew up to show you how to love.  

Now they shine on a statue that promised shelter upon reaching shore, telling the world: 

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!


While the words still have the strength to stand.

The words are really tired.  Soon the sound of guns and screams and broken dreams will take their place.


Let’s back away from the abyss before it stares back at us.

Let us invigorate our words with the power of truth, with the sweetness of prayer, with the whispers of love.




  1. I just read Thomas Sowell’s column of 4 October 13 in “Who shut down the government?” He’s an academic economist and very good at explaining this situation.

    Yoli, I owe you a letter.Will write soon. There’s a lot to talk about.



  2. Although I am not in agreement with President Obama in many things, I do not think that supporting him is tantamount to destroying this country. I am not a partisan person because I can’t come to fully agree with either party and neither do I think in terms of liberal or conservative. In this government shut down issue, however, it seems to me that it is the extreme Republicans – the Tea party ones that are the ones who are incapable of negotiating.


  3. For some reason that escapes me, I had missed this entry of your blog when you posted it.
    My, oh my, I am now so relieved to have found it! What a beautifully written piece! In fact, I can only tell you that I am so moved by it that I don’t know how to express it well enough to convey the impression it has made on me. Just know that I feel like your soul has spoken directly to mine once more and once more I am so grateful for you, tocaya del alma.
    Please keep writing!


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