How to cultivate a white rose

 I am very moved by President Obama’s starting his speech in Cuba with the words “Cultivo una rosa blanca.” In that opening line, he established cultural recognition, respect, and the deep challenge of repairing relationships. The audience seemed totally with him in that moment, and responded with heart-felt applause. For my English-speaking friends who are not familiar with this poem by Cuba’s most famous poet, José Martí, I will translate it here:
 
Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca
 
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazón con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo una rosa blanca.
 
English translation:
 
I grow a white rose
In July as well as in January
For the sincere friend
Who openly gives me his hand.
 
And for the cruel one who tears out
The heart that keeps me alive
Neither thistles or stinging nettles do I grow
I grow a white rose.
 
In Spanish, the verb “cultivar” is the action of growing or raising plants, as well as the usage common to both languages: cultivating or developing relationships as we would plants.
 
There is something deep in the heart of this poem that speaks to why the combination of Focusing and Nonviolent Communication is so powerful. How do we cultivate a white rose, all year, for our friends as well as for those that have hurt us? Certainly not by burying the reality of our feelings, but by recognizing them and allowing them to guide us on the way to expressing what we need, then listening with openness to what the other person needs.
 
Society doesn’t know how to do this yet. People like Trump and Cruz appeal to those who think that thistles and nettles will somehow protect them. Obama’s gesture to Cuba shows that he understands that change is a deep process, not an either/or.
1 reply
  1. carollambertarts
    carollambertarts says:

    This is so lovely, thanks for these lines and your thoughts. Focusing is a powerful way to grow, and to offer white roses. I’m thinking we can also be alert for other ways to do this powerful work, welcome them and learn what we can. Poetry comes to mind! You taught me something about poetry today.

    Reply

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