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Arestas do Brasil / Edges of Brazil

Angles of the sofa

Bruno Peron, 21 April 2017

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The sofa is a piece of furniture that comprises various possibilities of interaction with relatives who congregate to spend some time together, with visitors who gather to stimulate a conversation, and combined with television as a source of entertainment. I think that the sofa accommodates the physical body so that imagination is set free. It is not in vain that the sofa usually is in front of a television or a window. It is necessary to see the world, which in a way or another comes to us if we do not go towards it.

Despite the even more recent progresses that computer and smartphone applications promote, the multiplicity of ideas and world visions has been possible because many people sit on a sofa in front of a television. This act is convenient for a spectator and transmits the sensation of taking part in a world that is no longer distant and unreachable. It is now tangible, near and summons up everybody to virtual arenas of interaction that make the world, for many, more exciting. However, what few people realise is that such colossal world that television brings us has ideological, marketing and political motivations.

The cosiness of the sofa in front of such television window that I just mentioned has stimulated the pounding of pans (“panelaço”, in Portuguese) over building’s windows and the unjustified ousting of a president (Dilma Rousseff). I refer here to such comfort of the sofa as a representation of the limits of our citizenship, or what I have called Brazilians’ half-citizenship. The spread of rumours, the exaggerated attention given to people (instead of happenings and ideas) and partial understanding make us hostages of the sofa, which is the home consoler.

The sofa also symbolizes the greatness of the world in contrast with the smallness of our knowledge. Scientists find out formulas and chemical reactions so that, contradictorily, politicians use them to launch missiles over other people’s territories. Engineering progresses so that many people still do not have where to live and technologies do not reach the hands of those who cannot afford it. Television generates diverse perspectives while we are on the sofa, such as family interaction at home and disunity of countries in other places.

A great amount of such disunion comes from the human inclination towards selfishness and greed. We want more and only for us that which disharmonises the world and whose origins we do not know. Governors ostensibly show military power (for example, those in the United States and in North Korea), religious groups impose their beliefs upon others, nations dive into corruption and internal division (Brazil and Venezuela), and violence brings out indelible traces in the world (debris in Syria, conflicts in Africa, terror in global cities). How good would it be if our aspirations summed up in fraternity and understanding!

In turn, the country of the exuberance of plains and groves, as Pero Vaz de Caminha accounts in his letter in May 1500, postpones its role as regenerator of the world. Brazil consolidates its place as a stronghold of the ignorant, a colony of vagabonds and a purgatory of slayers, who attack their preys without brakes that would eventually stop aggression. This is the country of the small motorcycle culture (the advantage of the cheap and fast without any rules or care for others) and of criminal impunity. It reaches such a feat that the Jet Wash Operation (“Operação Lava Jato”, as in Portuguese) and the accusations made by Odebrecht’s corsairs have proved that the termites sprawled on the luxurious furniture of the National Congress. It is thus necessary to change it instead of repairing it.

Better than sticking one’s body on the sofa and watching spectacles on television, it is necessary to understand by comparing ideas, to give opinions, to take sides and to shape the country as we want it. The democratic regime and a complex legal structure give us conditions to boost citizenship. For that purpose, it is necessary to clarify whether the sofa is a support for passivity or a trampoline for innovative ideas.