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Unlocking Cuban Creativity

Originally posted at Smorgasblurb. At first glance, the article reads like a first-hand account of a post-disaster country: “Streets once devoid of commerce in towns like this and in Havana are gradually coming to life…” The scene Victoria Burnett described in her New York Times article was not of a country recovering from a natural disaster or civil war. Instead, it depicted her journey through Cuba, a country whose people have been reawakened. She experienced the buzz of vibrant entrepreneurship: Unshuttered storefront windows, machinery retuned and whirring along till late in the night, rich smells of freshly-ground coffee beans, and the hum and excitement of restaurateurs promoting their newly minted menus. Cuba gives us a real-time snapshot into the spirit of innovation. For decades, unrealized dreams and untapped abilities were locked within the failed Cuban socialist system. The government-imposed chains have now been cut loose. In a move of genuine humility (at best) or desperate self-preservation (at worst), Cuban leaders have admitted that the Cuban people are better positioned than their government to innovate and to address their country’s problems. The Cuban rebirth unearths the soul of HOPE International’s work. At the core, we believe that God—the innovator of the solar systems, mountain ranges and human emotion—has planted a glimmer of his creativity in us. When given the opportunity to do so, people will put that gift to work. Architects, chefs, artists, entrepreneurs, electricians, florists, educators and scientists each apply their God-given creativity in uniquely profound ways. Now, for the first time in decades, Cubans have the chance to do the same. Unlocking Cuban Creativity Photo source: Jose Goitia, The New York Times Our role as those with abundance is to do more than solely provide for those in need. Our calling is far greater than providing food for hungry bellies and medicine for sick bodies. We are surely called to do these things, but also called to unleash the God-given creativity of those in need. To fuel the imaginings of those without the privilege of exercising their creative muscles. As I watch Cubans taking small steps toward these ends, my spirit is energized. Tomorrow, I will fly to another Caribbean nation—the Dominican Republic. While there, I will observe the fruits of Dominican innovation. I will feast on slow-cooked and fantastically marinated rice and beans, enjoy the sweetness of freshly harvested fruit smoothies, and perhaps purchase a bottle of home-brewed shampoo. I will meet entrepreneurs who are using the abilities and engaging the dreams which God has sowed within them. The Dominican economy and its people are flourishing. Let’s hope Cuba is right behind them.