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Arestas do Brasil / Edges of Brazil

In parallel, two Brazils

Bruno Peron, 22 May 2017

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This text does not intend to enumerate examples that would lead us to conclude that Brazil is a divided country. Such a stance would leave us impotent in the face of problems with impracticable solutions. Instead, I conduct the reader to diagnose that the two Brazils to which I refer exist in fact as if they were two different countries within the same territory. Thus, the naturalness of how it happens and the challenges posed for the spaces of interaction, which are widely known as public spaces, are worrisome.

The first antagonism that I use in my argument is between the lettered Brazil and the ignorant Brazil, between the well educated and the badly educated. The first group concentrates those who have better family reception and planning, who live in neighbourhoods with good infrastructure and location, and who value the education given to their children, who are usually only a few. The second works through God-Will-Give, asking Jesus to protect the numerous offspring of each couple and the state to guarantee everything, absolutely everything but condoms.

At one end, I mention people who live comfortably, consume well, go to places understood to be “cultural”, have time for leisure, and trust in the emancipatory power of education. These people do not hesitate to stop their vehicles at tracks for pedestrians, have the habit of reading instructional books and magazines, and use good manners frequently in social intercourse. Besides, the majority of these people think that the government is a corruption and inefficiency lair that hinders society’s progress.

On the other end, and in a number that increases proportionally in Brazil, we see those who have difficulty in paying their basic bills, live in areas with infrastructural deficiency, consume only what is necessary and buy some superfluous goods on credit. They do not have the same interest as the other group, for example, in reading instructional materials, in seeing artistic exhibitions and theatre plays; their time dedicated to leisure is limited. For them, education is a cloudy universe of government compulsion. Were it not for this requirement, their children would be somewhere else, maybe taking part more intensely in the family conflicts at home. The state is for them the Big Daddy who must do everything for them to survive, since they do not have a clear idea of what education and work are.

There are many cultural and social implications in the bifurcation of these two Brazils. The main one is in the interaction between so different people that happens in the apartment complex, in traffic, on the sidewalk, in the shop, in the supermarket, in the bank, in the restaurant. Due to the educational contrast in Brazil, it is often difficult to decide what attitude to take. It is also hard to foresee the reactions to such disparate behaviours in face of situations that are experienced in common. In an informal conversation I had with a biker, I told him that motorbikes must travel behind cars, as in more developed countries, and thus guarantee the safety of all. However, he reported to me that the main reason he bought a bike is to drive over the painted banners on the streets, between and next to cars, threading through the front and side, transversely, sticking rows, and so reaching faster his destination.

The parallelism of these two Brazils that I refer to has in education its supporter. A solid instruction would give conditions to improve aspects so diverse as the culture of work that downgrades Brazil so much. Many people shiver when they hear the word “merit” and its qualifying “individual”, because they want to swim over the benefits of employment and over the goodness of community instead of dedicating earnestly to an activity.

The coming young generations are those which will maybe start to clean the dirt that has been deposited under the carpet for so long.