To a harried librarian fed up with advocacy
Dear, XX. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX.
May I reply to your e-mail, in which you wrote:
> Sorry, but I do not see a need for this resolution. IFLA has spoken out strongly
> against the imprisonment of political dissidents in Cuba. They have spoken out
> strongly in support of intellectual freedom in Cuba. No one has spoken in favor
> of the current Cuban government tactics in this area.
> I don't really think there is more that can be done.
It is perhaps true, indeed almost certainly true, that Fidel Castro will no more listen to us than Adolf Hitler did to Chamberlain when he sought peace in his time, or Stalin did to Roosevelt when that worthy called upon the U.S.S.R to release those countries that state had "liberated" into Soviet captivity.
I cannot at all agree in good conscience, however, that there is nothing more to be done, or that enough is enough as regards opposing the summary imprisonment of private citizens for lending out their books.
If nothing else, our continued demanding for justice can raise a clangor that will reach even the ears of those who are being treated so unjustly. Please consider that their greatest torture will not be their imprisonment on false charges -- for like Socrates they will know those charges to be unjust -- or the loss of their precious collections -- for they are sure to believe as Ben Joseph Akiba did that while the paper burns the words fly away -- but rather their greatest torture will be the loss of hope. Hope is sometimes the only thing the oppressed have left; a very small flickering that can hold at bay all of the power and destitution of the most monstrous totalitarianism.
If however little we can do can keep hope alive in the minds and hearts of the oppressed, then it is well worth the doing. For so long as hope remains alive, so too will their spirits of resistance.
--Michael Nellis, 31 Jul 2006