La tolerencia es el vino de los pueblos por Jorge Majfud (translated)

The following story is an opinion piece written by one of my former professors at Jacksonville University for the widely read El Pais newspaper online. I liked the piece so much that I wanted to translate it from Spanish to English and share it with my readers, many of whom do not speak Spanish. If you do and would like to read the original article, you can click this link and read it here. If you are a native Spanish speaker and notice an error in my translation, please comment below and bring the specific line or phrase to my attention! I will sincerely appreciate the corrections. Thanks!
Tolerence is the wine for the people by Jorge Majfud
My
father was the fourth or fifth child of 12 born in Uruguay to a Lebanese immigrant couple, she was Christian and he probably was too. All his
childhood he lived in misery, digging up food from the field to eat, setting his bare feet in
the cow manure to relieve the early morning cold with frost, fighting with
other poor people for the bones that were left in the Frigorífico Tacuarembó.
He
was a school boy when his siblings already worked mixing mortar to make bricks or
planting vegetables that later he would sell in their town. When one brother
returned from school, the other found him at the entrance of the town in order
to put on (exchange) his shoes.
With
time, somewhere there in the 1950s, my father successfully made it to the
capital city to study carpentry and radiotelephony and upon returning to his town
started Fabrica de Muebles, as he called it, besides starting many businesses
and founding a Rotary Club and some banking cooperatives successfully. During
the day he worked in his pharmacy or looked for some lost cow en one of his
fields, and at night, for 30 years, taught classes in the technical school. His
colleagues laughed at his ability to fall asleep sitting or even standing on
foot.
“If
I could go back in life, I would work less and enjoy things more,” was one of
the last things he told me on the phone, not out of grief but to give me new
advice, that ended up being his last. Our last conversation was lighthearted
because one never knows the meaning behind each moment.
One
day after his funeral, walking through the old corners of my city from my past
lives, as if I took the sadness out for a walk with the secret hope of losing
it on some corner, I came across many people, too many at the moment, the
majority of whom I did not know or had not been able to recognize after so many
years. One of them told me: “I had the best time of my life when I worked for
your father. The man knew how to follow through with projects in whatever city
and we were all going there together.”
“I
was a student of your father,” another gentleman told me, whom I did recognize from
some years back. “I was a lost boy when I met him. He gave me my first job and
showed me how to be a team. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be who I am today
nor would I have the family that I have.”
My
perspective, like any other, is not neutral. To me he was an serious e man,
generous with his own family and others, even though many would think the opposite.
“To some people I am a good guy,” he said, “and to others I am surely a miserable guy.
You can’t be okay with both God and the devil.” It was not difficult to find
faults in him, not because he emphasized this in some particular human way but
because it is never difficult to find faults in everyone else. If they say he was
already a perfect guy, what would happen if he was preaching democratic love to
his enemies and they crucified him for it, what more can one hope for?

This was even more evident in the
world of idealistic passions. We always discussed politics. He always clung to
his conservative principles and I held onto a rebuttal. Our discussions were
intense but as always we resolved them in a simple way:
“Well, I can see now that we are
not going to reach an agreement,” he said, “ let’s go have some wine then.”

Of course, someone will say that
tolerance is not the wine but the opium for the people. No lesser truth is that
its absence in death of the people and worse, the frustration that each one of
these concrete lives conform to this mythical abstraction.
I loved him a lot, like any good
son can love a good father. But a son never loves as much as a father does. It
takes a whole lifetime to come to this realization; some, even, need two lifetimes to understand
it and more to begin to accept it. So, one can go about discovering other
meanings in old memories, each one more profound.
For example, in several political
elections, the old man listed himself on the ballot for their party. I never
voted for him. I remember my first time, at the end of the 1980s, I voted for
an emerging ecological party. When I arrived home I told my father that I had
not voted for him. As always, he took the news with a smile and told me that I
had done well.
Now that he has died, I ask myself
what in the hell did that idealistic honesty serve for what I presumed that one
election day. For what purpose does every tiny cruelty serve? For what purpose does
every single small truth, every questionable honesty serve?
What is
the point of everything? I asked myself this while I stared at a pile of a hundred
letters written in Arabic that his parents wrote and received almost a century
ago. I don’t know what they say. I can barely suspect that they are stories of
love and heartbreak, of meetings and failed attempts that neither my father
never came to know because his also hid his own frustrations, how all secrets
of a language were hidden from him that are only used in the most profound way
of their two shattered privacies in a clay ranch, in the middle of a field
barely close to being able to survive.
What is the point of everything?
I went back to asking myself this. So I look at my son looking out the window
as I liked to do while my father worked very useless things and I realized that
I know the answer. The answer, no the truth. Because one thing is a task, what
you should do, and another thing simply is not. There is no doubt about one and
about the other, about the truth, probably no one knows it or their own name. 
To read more articles and opinion pieces by Dr. Majfud, follow him on Twitter or visit his website, Escritos Críticos.
**This is just a practice translation.I am not claiming that I am providing the official English translation for this article nor am I claiming any ownership or rights to it.** <–just wanted to clarify that!

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