I have been trying to remain optimistic. Daily, I watch hang-ups and aversions as I try to remain neutral, with limited success, but the intention remains. I strive to see the good side of things, to believe in the ultimate bent toward the good. But it’s very hard to commit to this direction. It will go on, yet shaken by strong lateral and opposing blows, amidst a turbulent sea infested with sharks. The whole world seems to be heading toward the bottom of the abyss, and at dizzying speed. For one moment, let’s adopt the perspective that light illuminates darkness. Now look around, and instead of taking on the point of view of a science confident that technology will save us, or anything else outside ourselves, let’s consider darkness as something that has in fact been growing and haunting, eclipsing, the good. In the mundane duality of good and evil, the imbalance is evident – and I may very well be wrong (so I hope) –, and, to me, it doesn’t weigh toward the good.
Terrorists strike against hundreds of people in Paris, an iconic city of the West, an incubator of ideals celebrated by the French flag, a beacon for what we have that is most virtuous, most human. The conflict spreads its tentacles over Africa, Europe and Asia, hundreds of refugees abandon their homes fleeing idiotic crossfires. Great military and economic powers veer toward a conflict, which, quite frankly, may culminate in the Third World War. Fukushima, a few years ago, set up new precedents for environmental disasters, leaving Chernobyl behind. And now we watch, in the bosom of our own country, negligence, greed, egotistical and vile inefficiency conflate into a foreseeable environmental disaster: an entire river destroyed in one go, and we still cannot know for sure how it will impact the Brazilian coast. Global warming is a reality, no longer speculation or projection. Historical records are being broken weekly in Brazil and all over the world: sea level rising, El Niño yielding massive hurricanes, glaciers melting, the polar fauna and flora getting irretrievably destroyed, along with, of course, a good portion of the fauna and flora in almost all ecosystems. The cerrado vegetation is suffering with record-breaking fires that consume large reservations as the atmosphere takes on a new greyish tinge. The fire, often the product of arson, paves the way for new pastures in the Amazon, where the original greenery loses ground to soy fields and cattle pasture to feed mouths hungry for meat, a habit that is undeniably destroying our rivers, forests, biomes of all kinds and intoxicating the air with methane and carbon gas. But cattle farming in Brazil is doing just fine, thank you. The blind growth of present times feeds the cancer that may just kill us all. Indigenous peoples are butchered while the government does little to nothing about it. Their lands are taken and now an unprecedented conservative congress poses further threats to their land rights, to the perpetuation of their culture and wisdom and, when push comes to shove, to their own lives. Organized religions of a few try to oppress the morals and the rights of others, the proposal for armed solutions marks another setback, much like poisons and GMOs that are banned in other countries still find their way into our fertile ground. Women, homosexuals, blacks and other ethnic and economic minorities have their rights viscerally threatened, facing incomprehensible waves of prejudice and violence, and democracy itself shows signs of weakness and is prone to fall under the hatred, the corruption and the crimes in spheres that are invisible to part of the society that mistake them for virtues. Passenger planes are taken down; ethnic cleansing kills by the thousands in Africa and international forces fail to react properly because they see no economic opportunity big enough there to warrant an intervention for peace; in Brazilian urban centers, the police features among the groups that kill the most in the entire world while the population doesn’t hold their breath in judging and giving opinions riddled with prejudice and ingenuity; supposed criminals are tied to lampposts and stoned to death; juvenile offenders are given the same treatment as grown men as they are discarded and obliterated by the State through a cruel prison system. That is, when they are offenders without the protection of a power suit. Meanwhile, there are those that take the public for private and take hold of what was meant to serve us all. The media lies, manipulates, distorts; the stupid drug war that is gradually being overcome in developed countries shows no sign of pushing back in Brazil. Professors, policemen, truck drivers, civil servants fight for their rights, even though they sometimes fail in taking a step further toward fulfilling their duties, and the government responds with silence or a heavy hand, symptoms of a weak, insecure, shortsighted leadership… the list could go on indefinitely but I will stop myself right here.
I wonder if the world has always been this chaotic, this lacking of virtue, this individualistic ode and we simply didn’t have the technology or reach to perceive it or if we’re really drowning in somber times, in which candlelight is not enough to guide the way? Why don’t we learn from the children, who come into this world with fresh eyes, devoid of vice, innocent but corruptible if unduly exposed, who see in others a potential friend instead of potential gains? Why don’t we act as adults, respecting the others’ individuality without losing the sense of community, acquiring awareness of our environment, being accountable for the consequences of our acts toward life in this planet?
Amidst the outbreak of disasters, both natural and human, I remain a candle… but holding on to hope that the flame of one single candle can set off wonderful fireworks, exploding into action and vibration, lighting up and celebrating, helping out and healing. The flames of 7 billion candles can certainly achieve intense brightness. Let us be light.