FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

First of all, let’s face it: the following have not really been frequently asked questions. This website is just starting. But they are questions that I thought might be of some interest to people who are looking at it for the first time. So, here goes.

Who is Charlie Hardy?

I was born in 1939 of Austrian parents who had migrated to Cheyenne, Wyoming in the early ‘20s. Hitler had invaded their birthplace the year before in March 1938.

I had a happy childhood with the help of family and friends. A few memorable moments of my early years were spent under the kitchen table. During the day, I was there to gather the peas that I had hidden on a ledge the day before. I hated peas. Other children might see magic as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. For me it was getting the peas from my plate to the ledge under the table without my mother noticing the slight of hand. After collecting them the next day I would bury them in the back yard. To the best of my knowledge, they were never discovered.

At night I sometimes spent longer periods under the table because the air raid sirens had sounded. On such occasions my father would wrap a Civil Defense band around his arm, turn off all the lights in the house and leave us alone to be sure that all the neighbors had their lights turned off also. Under the table was considered a safe spot for children in case of a bombing.

The possibility of being bombed in Cheyenne seemed rather remote, but maybe there was some reasoning behind the exercise. My older brother, who was an officer in the Army Air Force (a teenager -- known as a “ninety-day wonder”), was in Austria dropping bombs near my grandparent’s home. I suppose it would have only been fair if some of my Austrian cousins would have liked to have dropped some bombs on Cheyenne, too.

When I was eighteen, I left Cheyenne for Denver, Colorado and spent the next eight years at St. Thomas Seminary studying to be a Roman Catholic priest. I was ordained in 1965 and had twenty-nine wonderful years loving and being loved by the people in the places where I was assigned in Wyoming and in Venezuela.

I lived eight of those years in a cardboard and tin shack on the periphery of Caracas. In 1993 I was to return to the United States when I discovered that I was in love. In 1994 I married a great person, Susana Gonzalez, and the hierarchy of the church decided that my active priestly life should automatically end.

Little by little, Susana and I discovered that our lives were richer as friends than as husband and wife and we separated in 2000. She is still a wonderful friend.

In April 2002 a coup took place in Venezuela. It was against a democratically elected government that had widespread support among the lower economic classes. I found the lies in the international and local media so extremely biased in favor of the upper classes that I decided to dedicate my life to trying to present another picture of the Venezuelan reality.

With my $368.00 monthly social security check and help from a friend who has loaned me an apartment I am able to survive, something I am not sure I could do in the United States. And so, for this and other reasons, I continue to reside in Venezuela. Like the United States, it is a beautiful country with some fantastic people.

Why do you write?

Because I have a song to sing, a dance to dance, a painting to paint, a story to tell. Someone once wrote to me and said that I paint with words. That was a very kind thing to say to another traveler. It has given me a lot of encouragement. But mostly I write because I think everyone should write about their life and their ideas.

I once said to a woman in Mexico who spoke many languages and had been around the world that I thought everyone’s life was interesting. It was just that most people never stop and look at their own life. She disagreed. She said most people’s lives weren’t interesting.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I stick to mine. And if someone is reading what I have written and says to themselves, “I should write my story; I should share my ideas,” then they will know why I write.

Why did you pick those stilted headings like “You and I” instead of “You and me?”

I have often repeated something that I heard many years ago: words don’t have meaning; people have meaning. I appreciate good grammar but I am not a purist. I liked the sound of “you and me” but “me” is the pronoun that is used when one is the object of an action. Therefore if I had used “you and me” it seemed to me that I would be making both of us objects instead of subjects. I like the idea that we are both important, that our lives make a difference in the world, that we should make things happen and not just be the objects of other people’s action.

Too often, we are all treated as objects and others try to decide for us. There are lots of hierarchies in the world and not just in the Roman Catholic Church. These hierarchies try to tell us not only what we should buy but also how we should think. I want you and me to think our own thoughts, to dream our own dreams, to create the world that we would like to see.

So when I used “I,” I was thinking of You and Me, both with capital letters, whether we be objects or subjects.

And the word order in “You, the World and I” and “You, Venezuela and I” were also deliberately chosen. I like to feel that we will be in a conversation through this website with the World or Venezuela between us.

So, grab a cup of coffee if that is your preference, a piece of cake or pie, and let’s just enjoy some time together.

Why don’t you have a section “You, the United States and I?”

If we are going to talk about the world, we are going to be discussing the United States. That’s just the reality of life today. Do you remember how the sun never set on the British Empire? Today it never sets on the CIA. However I wouldn’t mind if, by some miracle of God, it would sit on it and let the citizens of the United States and of the world free.

Why was your first entry in the “You and I” section labeled “Part 56?”

Because I see these essays as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and I am not sure yet how they will all fit together. I have a sneaky feeling that at the end of my life or of my writing career it will be discovered that there are some missing pieces. But by the time that happens, I hope something of a picture of you and me will emerge and that someone might look at it and think, “They did have something to say to the world.”

Why don’t you write about “the poor” instead of always saying “the economically poor?”

I hate the word “poor.” In using it, it doesn’t establish a relationship. There are poor in the world and there are rich in the world. You might throw in the middle-class between them. That’s it.

I prefer to speak of “the oppressed.” By saying that, there have to be “oppressors” and there are. I include myself in the second category. As much as I fight for the rights of the oppressed, I know that I have been and continue to be a beneficiary of the oppressed-oppressor relationship in the world.

The “poor” are poor because my (yes, my) oppressor-world hasn’t yet decided to give them a chance. And for whatever it is worth, I don’t believe most of them want to be “rich” either. But they do want the chance to work, to have education for their children, decent housing and health care. None of that seems unreasonable to me.

How do we contact you?

Try this: cowboyincaracas@yahoo.com. But I should warn you that I only check my mail about once a week. I’ll do my best to respond to nice letters. Nice letters are those that come from people who seem to respect the ideas of others, even though they might or not agree with them.

On the other hand, I don’t know how to properly respond to those who write to me with some very unseemly words and so I usually don’t.

Last Updated: 16/05/04|Hits: 28,076 View Printable Version