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Home / Don's Travels / Reflections on Spain / April, 2011

Reflections on Spain

Who are the Spanish People?

My wife Ruth and I always have fun when we share a meal with Fermín and Aixa Rodríguez. Fermín is a master olive oil taster, who provides La Tienda with our favorite blended extra virgin olive oil. Along with their cute little daughter Sofía, they live in the hilltop city of Priego de Córdoba, high above the family owned olive groves. It is one of the dramatic White Towns of Andalucía -- just an hour away from another spectacular structure perched on a hill: the medieval castle of Alcalá la Real.

This spring we joined them for tapas in a café next to an old church, on the edge of what used to be the Moorish neighborhood many generations ago. As she has many times before, vivacious Aixa, laughingly described herself as a ‘Jewish Muslim Berber.’ She married her Christian husband in the same church where their baby was baptized! That afternoon the four of us adults watched their joyful four-year old Sofia darting around the fountain of tumbling water in the plaza. Worries about lineage did not cross our minds. We were friends.

Many of us find it interesting to trace back our roots, often getting engrossed in the study of our genealogy. Here in the United States it is of particular interest since, other than the indigenous people, all of us have come from somewhere else. We bound together as Americans, regardless of our ancestry.

But over in Europe, and especially Spain, with its complex history of competing cultures, the question of who is Spanish has always been a real one. When our son Christopher was born in Rota he received an elaborate birth certificate proclaiming him hijo de la raza -- son of the race -- which of course was absurd. Chris does not have a drop of Spanish blood, and some of his ancestors from Holland, Ulster and Yorkshire might have waged war against Charles V and his son Philip II.

However this kind of a birth certificate was issued by the local government to honor its historical past, because for hundreds and hundreds of years the Christian inhabitants of Spain coveted their identity as la raza, the pure race, which in reality boiled down to a distinction based on the enemy’s religion. From 711 AD, when the invading armies of Muslim Berbers crossed from Africa to the Iberian Peninsula, until the 16th century, there was always a tension between Moor and Christian. During the 700-year long war of religious struggle, the Reconquista, friend or foe was defined by his faith. Even then, it was not that clear cut. The hero El Cid fought for both Christian and Moor.

Always in the mix were the Sephardic – Spanish Jews, (Sephardic is the Hebrew word for ‘Spanish’) some of whose families had lived in the area since Roman times. They use a uniquely Sephardic style of liturgy and otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and traditions which originated in the Iberian Peninsula. There was a large Sephardic presence in holy Toledo, which at various times was either the Arian Visigoth, Muslim or the Catholic capital. The families of two towering 15th century Spanish mystics, Santa Teresa of Avila and San Juan de la Cruz, are said to have some Sephardic roots.

Alfonso X el Sabio (1221-1284) was known as a learned man. When he was crowned King of Castilla y León in 1252, he became one of the most significant intellectual leaders in Spanish history as he fostered discourse among Christian, Jewish and Islamic intellectuals. He wanted the scientific writings and the works of Aristotle to be available to his court and when he learned that the wisdom of classical Greece was only available in Arabic translation, he commissioned the Jewish scholars of Toledo to translate the Arabic documents.

In an interesting twist, I read that Sephardic scholars chose to translate the Arabic into Castilian, the vernacular, rather than Latin, because they had no love for the Roman church! So in Spain, Greek knowledge was translated by Muslim scribes and in turn by Sephardic scholars so that it would be available to Christian Europe. The writings became the source of much of the early scientific knowledge, and through Aristotle became the basis of Catholic theology.

Alternatively, let us take a look at another confusing event in Spain. At one time Córdoba was the most advanced city in Europe, as well as one of the jewels of Islam. In 784 AD, the caliph began building a magnificent mosque, on the site of St. Vincent’s Visigoth Church (which in turn was built on a pagan temple, centuries before). The mosque was an architectural wonder modeled after the great mosque of Damascus, perhaps one of the two or three most famous buildings of Muslim worship.

More than four hundred years later, in 1236, Fernando III conquered the city, and was so impressed by the mosque that he had religious leaders ritually cleanse the area, and then declared it a cathedral. Since then, it has been the seat of hundreds of archbishops. The current archbishop insists that the structure be referred to as a cathedral, since the building has not been a mosque for almost 800 years. Nevertheless, if you approach it from the neighboring Jewish quarter, your eyes will see a mosque.

So which is it, mosque or church? In my eyes, it is a magnificent example of Islamic architecture, reflecting the richness of the Moorish faith at its zenith. At the same time, with the later addition of a Gothic church within, it is a monument to the Christian faith. Christian and Moorish, it is located adjacent to what was once a flourishing Sephardic community, where lived Maimonides, one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages. Once again, we have an expression of the complex tapestry of Spain: in this case pagan, Visigothic, Islamic, Sephardic and Christian.

But a more poignant story is the one that was related to me by José Manuel, who is the tenth generation of a family that produces turrón, the essential Spanish Christmas confection made of almonds and honey, whose recipe was undoubtedly brought from the Middle East by the Moors. He wrote:

Dear Donald:

I have been gathering some information, about a side of my family background – the sephardies. My grandmother, on my father’s side, was from Toledo. Her name was Sagrario, named for Nuestra Señora de Sagrario, the patrona of Toledo. I spent some time with my grandparents, living in their house during my high school years. I learnt that her ancestors were Jews and that was known by neighbours and people around her hometown. But as with many others, she was raised as a Catholic and taught to behave like that. The family attended service at Santa María la Blanca, which I believe was an ancient Synagogue [whose architects were Mudéjar -- Muslims under Christian rule.]

My grandmother was the only one of her sisters and brother to marry, and the eldest. The family left Toledo, and her father became secretary of the judge in Madrid. During summers, she was sent to her relatives, and she told me that an aunt taught her to cook the plates the family cooked for special occasions.

Her aunt also taught her some of the family Sephardic background and traditions, but her father never wanted her to practice any of the traditions, especially when he was transferred to a new destination in Jijona. He wanted a ‘clean’ image as the new secretary of the judge in such a small town, adopting the role expected for the family.

Many years later when she was married to my grandfather, a turrón manufacturer, she started making old Sephardic pastries learned from her aunt and selling them in the store of the factory. She made:
1. Empanadillas of marzipan (She called them ‘half moon’) filled with sweet potato paste.
2. Empanadillas of marzipan filled with egg yolk paste.
3. Balls of marzipan with pine nuts.
4. Pastries with sweet potatoes and pumpkin paste.

My grandfather never said no to those new products, and they sold well. She was responsible for the women in the factory, and she told them how to make some of those products. She would make baked marzipan with the form of the Star of David, but never for the store, just she would take the paste from the factory and bake the figures at home.

Once when I was staying with my grandparents I saw her lighting a candle, it was Friday night, her husband was not at home and the windows curtains where shut down. I asked what she was doing and she said – "Nothing, just remembering." That is all I can tell you. Her youngest brother Luís is 94 years old, but when I ask him anything about Jews background, he says that "past is past" and that he is a good Catholic and does not want to say anything else. I do not know if any of this might be useful for you.

Un Abrazo, José Manuel

I find it sad that Jew, Christian and Muslim found it hard to live in harmony at one time or another (even as they do today). We humans seem to have to struggle to get along with one another. It is easy to focus on the dark side. However, is it not more constructive to highlight the good: the day-to-day life of humble people away from the headlines, who quietly learned to get along with one another and fashion a new culture? Speaking as a Christian, one of my favorite blessings is this one: "Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of others, so be swift to love, and make haste to be kind. Go in peace."

Many years ago, I read a fascinating book by Americo Castro, The Spaniards: An Introduction to Their History. It was controversial at the time because the scholar maintained that the true Spaniard only came into being as an amalgam of three cultures. The people before them had no common identity.

The richness and depth of the Spanish history, the hundreds of years when competing cultures learned from one another, has produced a unique people whose culture draws from the strengths of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The result of the peculiar Spanish experience is a fascinating fusion: one of warmth, hospitality and strong family ties.

¡Feliz Pascua! (The Spanish word for both Easter and Passover!)

Don

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COMMENTS

"One of the best books on this topic = "The Ornament of the World" by Maria Rosa Menocal. Fabulous book."
Elizabeth Hulings, USA

"Dear Elizabeth, Thanks for the tip. It is a fascinating subject. Don"

"I so enjoyed the read. As a history buff, I am constantly fascinated by the histories of different cultures. There are so many vestiges of Arabic in the Spanish language. I have been to Toledo where the three cultures thrived and lived together. There really are no stark differences among the earth's peoples. We are all an amalgam of cultures and races."
Nelson C Rosado, United States

"Dear Nelson, You are so right about the vestiges of Islam throughout Spain. The challenge is that us human beings are capable of harmony -- accepting one another even if we are different on the surface; but we are also capable of chaos and destruction.(Putting it theologically we are capable of acting with grace our sinfully). So as we celebrate our common bonds, we must also be vigilant about the darkness we can visit on one another. In the essay I was trying to highlight both sides of the coin, but choosing to accentuate the positive in our current fearful times. Since you are a history buff, I recommend the book "Empires of the Sea" -- a fascinating account of the three sea battles of Rhodes, Malta, and Lepanto which determined the final Western boundary of the Muslim Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe. "

"La historia es fascinante. Visité La Mezquita y Santa Maria la Blanca en los años '70 cuando era estudiante de la universidad de Valladolid. muy bellas."
Pamela Fornal McCollough, Lock Haven PA

"Don, A marvelous story. I have always enjoyed the stories that you have told since getting your emails for quite a while. I have been to the mosque in Cordoba and many of the other places you have talked about. Your articles bring back many fond memories of my 3 1/2 years (2 in Barcelona and 1 1/2 in Cadiz) and the warm friends I made there.Roy"
Roy Rogers, Newport News, VA

"You can try to create wispy sentimentality for a situation that is real only in the imagination. What did the wife say, "Jewish, Muslim, Berber" !!! Hmmm.... It's like an American that identifies his or herself with Indian or NATIVE AMERICAN spirituality, something that's not really yours. With regard to Islam, just read the headlines. Think Atocha...NO TO DHIMMITUDE...DEFEND SPANISH CULTURE...DEFEND THE WEST"
tskal, USA

"Dear Tskal, I could not agree with you more. This was not intended to be a kumbayah essay. It was addressing the romantic notion that there is some pure Spanish race as in "La Raza." The tradition which grew up during the Reconquista produced a common thread amongst the Christians as they fought together to reclaim their land from the Muslims. It is something to honor. However anytime people romantically identify themselves as the superior race, it spells trouble. There is no question that many terrible things happened during the 700 year long struggle, but it is also true that in individual lives people somehow learned to live together even under trying circumstances. "

"Thank you for the history lesson, and in particular the blessing. I send the same to you and yours.Dannielle"
Dannielle Ivey, USA

"i am so glad you picked up on the blessing -- it contains such a truth. For all of us life can be difficult at times. It is so important to offer kindness to all, suspending judgment --you have no idea what is on an individual's hearts. That goes as much for the supermarket cashier as it does for your friends."

"I found this article fascinating. My Spanish ancestors came from Cataluña, Galicia, Castilla and Algeciras. My ancestors (on my paternal grandfather's side) were the Condes de Piedra Buena, one distant cousin is the current Condesa. Sometimes I wonder if I have Moorish blood or maybe Jewish. Regardless, I love Spain. Lived there 4 years, in Madrid. Met my paternal grandfather's younger brother and sister. They were Perez Santos Izquierdo. I go back back as often as I can. Thanks for a very interesting article."
Enrique A. Pérez, Redlands, CA

"Moorish, Jewish, Christian -- the same blood flows in all Spanish veins. I am glad you are able to enjoy investigating your historical and cultural background. It must be satisfying and fun when you return to your roots."

"What a beautiful and detailed article.Thank you. "
Margarita, Albany, NY

"Thank you so much for you comments. It was fun to put the ideas together -- but a challenge too -- since there is so much more that could be included."

"Yes, the history of Spain and the origins of its people are very interesting, but the tradition of anti-Semitism is unfortunately strong there and Zapatero has done little to undermine that particular, noxious tradition."
crf, washington,DC

"Antisemitism is a difficult thing to dislodge. But I hope as people learn how profoundly Sephardi -- Jewish Spaniards -- have enriched the fabric of Spain, the more they will think twice before falling into the old habits of their ancestors. But,as you know, people can be irrational. If they only would choose to be kind! "

"Thank you so much for your appreciation for our Spanish culture and for sharing with us your knowledge of it.I have always said that the best catholics are converts and the best Spanish historians are foreigners; the cradle people take things for granted rather than treasure them.You inspire us to relearn our history and through that reconnect with other cultures.God Bless you"
Maria del Pilar , Arizona USA

"Thank you Pilar, Your observation is an astute one. It takes another person from a different perspective to help you see what you have. That is why I wrote the book "The Heart of Spain. My perspective is as a man from a severely dysfunctional family where my brother and I were far from cherished. When I stepped on Spanish soil for the first time over 40 years ago, At first I was not drawn to the beautiful historical buildings or the wonderful food; rather my heart was warmed when I saw how children were cherished In my mind it is still the primary virtue of Spain. ¡Que viva la familia Española!"

"Fascinating article, I loved it. My favorite part of traveling is to learn the history of the area I am visiting. I must go to Spain next.Thanks Don, I always enjoy your articles.JY"
Judi Yim, Huntington Bch,CA,USA

"Thank you for sharing ! "Life is short, and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of others, so be swift to love, and make haste to be kind. Go in peace." "
Connie Cress, San Diego, CA USA

"That blessing is a good and simple reminder, isn't it. Life can be difficult, and being kind --even to the toll taker on a highway -- makes a great difference to that person and to you. thanks for taking the time to write. Don"

"I agree with your comments as my background on my father's side came from Mallorca and I am told we have some Moorish blood. In my opinion both all of Europe as well as the Americas is a mixture of every race. I have read that even in China, and because of the ancient trade rout, European and Muslim blood is mixed with oriental, thus those who claim being of pure race is fulling themselves."
Marya Munoz, Florida

"Yes. And claims of "purity" have caused a lot of trouble in the world. I think it is better to learn about one's roots and appreciate them. Not because they are superior, but because they are you."

"I love your story I come form a line of Sephardic Jews and some a the things we cook are still some of the cooking that have been passed down from generation to generation. "
Erika Dolores, Texas

"Thanks for writing, Erica. Do you by any chance have some old recipes with Sephardic roots. I would love to see them. With your permission we could post them for others to enjoy."

"Allow me to recommend a superb history of Spain in the early Middle Ages that beautifully describes the Moorish period and the Reconquista- The Ornament of the World by Maria Rpsa Menocal. "
Robert Fenyo, Carlsbad, CA USA

"Thanks for the recommendation. If you read above, you will see another of the Tienda family recommended it. I will order it today."

"Thoughtful piece. I'm Armenian and I got my wife "Aromas of Aleppo - The Legendary Cuisine of Aleppo Jews" as a present because it was closer to the food my family made than I've seen in any other book. So what you're talking about is important throughout the Mediterranean region."
John, Wisconsin

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Reflexiones en Español

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¿Quiénes son los Españoles?

Mi esposa Ruth yo gozamos cada vez que nos sentamos a la mesa con Fermín y Aixa Rodríguez. Él es catador profesional de aceite y abastece a La Tienda de nuestro aceite de oliva virgen extra predilecto. La pareja vive con su encantadora hijita Sofía en los altos de Priego de Córdoba, colina arriba de los olivares de la familia. Priego es uno de esos espectaculares Pueblos Blancos de Andalucía a una hora de camino de otro maravilloso escenario elevado sobre un cerro: el castillo medieval de Alcalá la Real.

Hace unas semanas nos reunimos y tapeamos cerca de la vieja iglesia y el antiguo barrio morisco. Como en muchas otras ocasiones, la alegre Aixa, se describía a sí misma entre risas como una 'bereber musulmana judía' ¡que se casó con un cristiano en la misma iglesia en la que más tarde bautizó a su hija! Esa tarde los cuatro contemplamos embelesados a Sofía, de cuatro añitos, corretear alrededor de la fuente que borbotaba en la plaza. En ningún momento nos preocupamos de linajes; éramos simplemente amigos.
A muchos de nosotros nos atrae la idea de desenterrar nuestras raíces y nos lanzamos a la tarea del estudio de nuestra genealogía. Aquí en los Estados Unidos esta tarea cobra particular interés puesto que, aparte de los pueblos indígenas, todos procedemos de lugares lejanos. Nos une el ser americanos sin tener en cuenta nuestros antepasados.

Pero al otro lado del océano, en Europa y especialmente en España, de compleja historia de culturas rivales, la pregunta de quién es español ha sido siempre una cuestión interesante. Con el nacimiento de nuestro hijo Christopher en Rota, recibimos un rimbombante certificado de nacimiento que lo proclamaba 'hijo de la raza' lo cual resultaba obviamente absurdo. Chris no tiene ni gota de sangre española, y lo que es más, alguno de sus antepasados de Holanda, Irlanda y Yorkshire podrían haber participado en las contiendas contra Carlos V y su hijo Felipe II.

Sin embargo este tipo de certificado de nacimiento era expedido por las autoridades locales con el objeto de honrar su histórico pasado, puesto que durante cientos y cientos de años los pobladores cristianos españoles defendían su identidad y se declaraban de 'La Raza' refiriéndose a su pureza de sangre, cuando en realidad todo había sido reducido a la distinción entre creencias religiosas. Desde el 711 DC, año en el que los Bereberes invadieron la península por el Estrecho, hasta el siglo XVI, se respiró una continua tensión entre musulmanes y cristianos. Durante los setecientos años de Reconquista y prolongadas guerras de religión, aliados y enemigos se definían en base a sus creencias, no obstante, ni siquiera por entonces las divisiones estaban claras: el heroico Cid luchó tanto en las filas cristianas como musulmanas.

Envueltos en todas estas lides se vieron también los sefarditas o judíos españoles (sefardita en hebreo significa 'español') cuyas familias habían habitado el país desde época romana. Ellos continúan practicando su propio estilo de liturgia sefardita y se definen a sí mismos por sus costumbres y tradiciones judías que se originaron en la península ibérica. Siglos atrás, la presencia de sefarditas en Toledo era numerosa a pesar de que en diferentes épocas la ciudad fuera capital visigoda, musulmana y católica. Las familias de los sublimes místicos españoles del siglo XV, Santa Teresa de Jesús y San Juan de la Cruz, se cree tuvieron raíces sefarditas.

Alfonso X 'El Sabio' (1221-1284) era conocido por su erudición. Tras ser coronado rey de Castilla y León en 1252 se convirtió en uno de los gobernantes cultivados más relevantes de la historia de España al auspiciar el acercamiento entre pensadores cristianos, judíos y musulmanes, consciente de que el saber de la antigua Grecia estaba a su alcance sólo a través de traducciones árabes. Anhelaba que su corte dispusiera de los escritos científicos y de las obras de Aristóteles y encomendó a los eruditos judíos de Toledo la traducción de esos escritos árabes.

Leí una vez que curiosamente los sabios sefarditas decidieron traducir del árabe al castellano, lengua vernácula, en detrimento del latín, puesto que la iglesia romana no gozaba en modo alguno de su estima. Así pues, en España el saber griego fue traducido por escribas musulmanes y más tarde fueron los sabios sefarditas quienes lo pusieron al alcance de la Europa cristiana. Estos escritos se convirtieron en grandes fuentes de inspiración para el temprano conocimiento científico y a través de ellos el pensamiento aristotélico sirvió de fundamento para la teología católica.

De otro lado, permítanme que ahora me refiera a otro confuso acontecimiento en la historia de España: en una época, Córdoba fue la ciudad más avanzada de Europa a la vez que joya del Islam. En el año 784 DC, su Califa comenzó la construcción de una espléndida mezquita sobre la iglesia visigoda de San Vicente (que a su vez se había levantado siglos antes sobre un templo pagano). La mezquita era una maravilla arquitectónica diseñada siguiendo el modelo de la gran mezquita de Damasco, sin duda uno de los edificios más famosos del mundo musulmán.

Más de cuatrocientos años después, en 1236, Fernando III conquistó la ciudad y quedó tan impresionado por la mezquita que hizo purificar el edificio con rituales cristianos y la declaró catedral. Desde entonces, ha sido la sede de cientos de arzobispos. El actual arzobispo insiste con ahínco en que se utilice el término de catedral para referirse al edificio puesto que hace ya casi ochocientos años que dejó de ser mezquita. Sin embargo, su aspecto exterior desde el cercano barrio judío es el de una mezquita.
Entonces en qué quedamos ¿mezquita o iglesia? A mi modo de ver es un magnífico ejemplo de arquitectura islámica que refleja la opulencia de la fe musulmana en todo su apogeo. Al mismo tiempo, con la posterior adición de una iglesia gótica en el interior, resulta un monumento a la fe cristiana. Es cristiana tanto como musulmana, situada junto a lo que en su tiempo fuera la floreciente comunidad sefardita, en donde vivió Maimónides, uno de los mayores eruditos de la Tora y médico de la Edad Media. Volvemos a encontrar otra expresión del complejo tapiz que constituye España: en este caso pagana, visigoda, islámica, sefardita y cristiana.

No obstante les contaré una historia aún más conmovedora, la de José Manuel. José Manuel es la décima generación de una familia fabricante de turrones, una confitura navideña esencial para los españoles hecha con almendras y miel y cuya receta, sin lugar a duda, la trajeron los moriscos desde el Oriente Medio. José Manuel me contó:

Querido Donald,

He estado recabando información sobre una parte de mis antepasados: los sefarditas. Mi abuela paterna era de Toledo. Se llamaba Sagrario, como Nuestra Señora del Sagrario, patrona de Toledo. En mis años de instituto, mis padres y yo pasamos una temporada viviendo en su casa. Descubrí que los antepasados de mi abuela eran judíos, como ya era sabido por vecinos y gente del pueblo. Pero como muchos otros, ella creció en la fe católica y le enseñaron a comportarse como tal. La familia solía asistir a Misa en Santa María la Blanca, que tengo entendido en un tiempo fue sinagoga judía (de arquitectos mudéjares, musulmanes que vivían bajo la ley cristiana.)

Mi abuela, la mayor de sus hermanos, fue la única que contrajo matrimonio. La familia salió de Toledo, y su padre comenzó a trabajar como Secretario del Juzgado en Madrid. Durante los veranos, enviaban a mi abuela con sus familiares, y ella me contó que su tía le enseñó a cocinar los platos que la familia preparaba en las grandes ocasiones.

Su tía también le contó algo de la historia y tradición sefardita familiar, pero su padre nunca quiso que ella practicara estas tradiciones, especialmente cuando iba a ser destinado a otra oficina en Jijona. Él quería tener una imagen "limpia" como nuevo Secretario del Juzgado de un pueblo tan pequeño, y que la familia se adaptara al papel que de ella se esperaba.

Muchos años después, cuando se casó con mi abuelo, un fabricante de turrón, mi abuela comenzó a elaborar los dulces sefarditas que un día aprendiera de su tía y los vendía en la tienda de la fábrica. Esto era lo que confeccionaba:
1. Empanadillas de mazapán (Ella las llamaba 'media luna') rellenas con masa de batata.
2. Empanadillas de mazapán rellenas de masa de yema de huevo.
3. Bolitas de mazapán con piñones.
4. Dulces con masa de batatas y calabaza.

Mi abuelo nunca rechazó esos nuevos productos y se vendían bien. Ella era la responsable de las mujeres de la fábrica, y les enseñó a elaborarlos. Horneaba el mazapán con forma de Estrella de David aunque nunca para la tienda, sino que traía la masa de la fábrica y la horneaba en casa.

Una vez mientras que estaba en casa de mis abuelos, la vi encender una vela. Era viernes por la noche, su esposo no estaba en casa y las cortinas de las ventanas estaban echadas. Le pregunté qué hacía y ella me respondió: "Nada, sólo estaba recordando." Eso es todo lo que puedo contar. Su hermano menor, Luis, tiene ahora 94 años, pero cuando le pregunto cualquier cosa sobre nuestros antepasados judíos me contesta que "el pasado es el pasado", dice que él es un buen católico y que no desea decir nada más. No sé si esto le servirá.

Un abrazo,
José Manuel

Me apena que a judíos, cristianos y musulmanes les resultara difícil convivir en armonía en un momento u otro de la historia (incluso en el actual). Parece que los humanos tengamos que esforzarnos para llevarnos bien pues resulta fácil ver el lado negativo. Sin embargo, ¿no es más constructivo resaltar lo bueno: la vida del día a día de la gente humilde y anónima, la que calladamente aprendió a apreciar al otro y a crear una nueva cultura? Como cristiano diré que una de mis bendiciones preferidas es ésta: "La vida es breve, y carecemos de tiempo para ablandar el corazón del prójimo, así que apresúrate a amar y aligérate a agradar. Que la paz esté contigo".

Hace ya muchos años leí un libro fascinante de Américo Castro, Los españoles: Introducción a su historia. Fue un libro controvertido en su época porque los intelectuales mantenían que el verdadero español sólo era la amalgama de tres culturas. Los pueblos anteriores a ellos no poseían una identidad común.

La riqueza y profundidad de la historia de España, los cientos de años durante los que los pueblos rivales fueron aprendiendo unos de otros han creado una nación sin par cuya cultura bebe de las fuentes de Europa, Medio Oriente y África. El resultado de la singular experiencia española es una fusión fascinante: cordialdad, hospitalidad y fuertes lazos familiares.

¡Feliz Pascua!

Don

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