During my third year of university I had to make a paper with a few classmates. A guy – let’s call him “Bernardo”- and a girl – lets call “Sara”- were part of my group. Sara was a short girl with a big butt, non existent breasts, and a big so-called intellectual ego, carefully fabricated to compensate what her self esteem couldn’t. Of our 6 student team, I was the one in charge of editing the text of the final essay.
When Sara read my corrections, on the afternoon before the due date ;her ego couldn’t stand my decision of erasing a couple of paragraphs she wrote. Those paragraphs were beautifully written as she made me realize, but they didn’t had anything to do with the main topic of our essay. A huge discussion followed, inside a small classroom, in the presence of this shy guy: Bernardo and the rest of the team. Sara accused me of being authoritarian (since my country is ruled by an authoritarian man, I guess we use that word a lot as an insult between us), stating that I only wanted to put my ideas in the final paper without listening to others’. Then she screamed and point out at Bernardo in a clear threatening gesture: “And Bernardo agrees with me!” – She said – “Why you don’t tell to Julia what you really think of her?”
Bernardo was petrified and didn’t say a word. I looked at him a bit confused, because I had trouble finding any reason why this guy could have something against me. He looked at me back and left the room carrying a scolded dog face. Then, the trouble was solved thanks to the mediation of the rest of the team. Thank God I wasn’t the only one who didn’t approve adding those couple of paragraphs in our final essay.
After that, I spend a couple of hours fighting with Sara, her ego, and working on the paper. I was so stressed up, that when I finally left the room, I had completely forgot that awkward moment with Bernardo earlier. So I was surprised when I found him waiting for me outside the classroom, sitting at the hall. You could read a lot of anguish all over his face. “Julia, I need to talk to you…”- He said.
Bernardo started to spit out words so quickly that it was hard for me to follow him– “… What Sara said earlier, about me thinking that you are authoritarian isn’t true… I never spoke bad of you… well one day I complained that you were late, and maybe I said a few things… I don’t know… I never expected… I’m truly sorry…” – “Bernardo what happens is that we are all stressed up and irritated because of the due date of the paper is all over us… that’s all… don’t worry… no heart feelings” – I answered back, with a smile. The memories of the earlier discussion with Sara came back to my head and they kept me wondering about a possible nasty conversation between Sara and Bernardo behind my back. But I didn’t say anything about it.
Despite that doubt, that day I learned to admire people like Bernardo. I admire people who have the guts to show their faces and openly admit their mistakes. There is no such thing as perfect people – eh… putting my boyfriend aside - , people will always make mistakes. I despise people who never admit their mistakes, who are always making excuses and who prefer to blame others of their acts instead of taking responsibility. It takes courage and humanity to admit that we have done the wrong thing.
You are entitled to wonder why I wrote a whole post of a trivial anecdote of my college days. But if you translate this anecdote from a small study group to the way a government acts, it will make sense to you. At the end we are all people. Students, same as president and ministers; share this natural tendency to either act like Sara or Bernardo.
Sara was a very smart – I won’t deny it – girl but also very insecure of her position and her abilities. Thus when a situation that hurt her pride came, she choose to call me “authoritarian” and to start a big fight, inviting witnesses such as Bernardo to support her cause… instead of admitting that the couple of paragraphs she wrote were inadequate for the essay. Bernardo, on the other hand, was not among the brightest of our class although he wasn’t dumb either. He was very shy, quiet, hardly had any initiative of his own. Yet he hided a quality perhaps more rare than the ability of writing a couple of nice paragraphs: the guts to do what is right even if that means admiting his mistakes and commiting his position.
I feel that we have too many Saras, when we are in the need of more Bernardos. Here and there, inside the Revolution and against it, I don’t feel we need bright people, or incredible smart ones. We need people with enough humanity to be able to fall, admit it, and get up again.
I’m tired of excuses. I’m tired of speakers blaming third parties. If we don’t have enough water, don’t say it was the “niño phenomena” or “the rich people who spend way too much water”. If electricity fails don’t say that is part of an “opposition sabotage” planned with CIA founds. If anyone protests for their rights don’t say that they are being manipulated or instigated to rebellion. If we don’t have any sugar in our shelves it is not because we are eating too much candy. If we don’t have access to foreign currency it is not because from one day to another we travel too much. If we don’t have water it is not because our baths take longer than three minutes (Our president said that we can’t take longer baths, yes, for real). If the electricity fails over and over in this Oil country it is not because we have too many TV’ in our houses.
Stop blaming the citizens of your own mess. Stop making us pay the consequences of your own mistakes. Please, stop trying to keep at all cost, your couple of beautiful but useless paragraphs and be like Bernardo for a change. Wait for me at the hall and tell me you didn’t mean it but you did it. You didn’t mean to rule Venezuela this way but it happened. Tell me it was a mistake and you are sorry.