Hope Must Never Die – Boff

Despite the happiness people in almost every city of our country experienced during the last Carnival, there is a mantle of sadness and hopelessness that can be seen in most people we encountered in the streets of such big cities as Rio and São Paulo, among others.

As it happens, politically speaking, the parliamentary-juridical-mediatic coup (that now we know was sponsored and engineered by the security agencies of the United States) shut down our horizon. No one knows where we are headed. What is undeniable is the rise in the level of violence, with the number of victims equal to and even greater than in war zones. And we are still enduring military occupation in Rio de Janeiro.

If we look carefully, we are experiencing a true civil war. The classes that had already been abandoned, are now more so, due to the cuts in the social programs the present government has imposed on thousands of families.

We had left hunger behind. We have returned to it. No one can say that the policies of the government of the Labor Party, PT, caused it. The policies of the PT freed us from that. The rigorous application of the most radical neo-liberalism by the new class installed in the government is producing hunger and misery. The growth of violence in the big cities is proportional to the neglect to which those cities are subjected.

The discussions of the different organisms responsible for security never address the root of the problem. The real problem they do not want to deal with lies in the nefarious social inequality, this is, in the historical and structural social injustice on which our society is built. Social inequality grows when renting is more concentrated and agro-business advances deeper into indigenous lands and those of the peoples of the jungle, and when more cuts are made to education, health and security.

Either social justice is accomplished in this country –which implies reforms to the agrarian, tributary, political and security systems–, or we will never overcome violence, which will tend to grow throughout the country.

If one day –that’s what we have– the excluded of the great abandoned peripheries were to rebel because of hunger and misery, and decide to assault super-markets and invade the urban centers, a Brazilian «bogotazo» could result, such as occurred in the mid-twentieth century in Bogota, Colombia, where for several weeks everything at hand was destroyed.

I think the backward elites, supported by the conservative means of mass communication, a weak, if not complicit, system of justice, and the State police apparatus, which is again controlled by those elites, will use great violence, which will aggravate rather than resolve the situation.

In this framework, how can we still nourish the hope that Brazil can thrive and that we can create a less evil society, as Paulo Freire would say?

The elder prophetic Bishop, Dom Pedro Casaldaliga, from the depths of the Araguaia, of the Matto Grosso, puts it well: carriers of hope are those who walk and engage in overcoming barbarian situations. Change will come neither from heaven nor from the present establishment; change will come from below, from the organized social movements and the segments of political parties committed to the well being of the people.

Pope Francis, in the gathering with the Latin American social movements in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, coined three expressions, summarized in these three T’s: tierra – land for the people to produce, techo – roof for the people to be sheltered, and trabajo – work for the people to make a living.

And Pope Francis issued a challenge: expect nothing from above, because from above will only come more of the same; you, yourselves, must be the prophets of the new, organize solidarian production, especially organic, and reinvent democracy. And follow these three fundamental points: economics for life, and not for the market; social justice, without which there will never be peace; and care for the Common Home, without which no project will make sense.

Hope is born from this commitment to transformation. Here hope must be thought of in the manner taught by the great German philosopher Ernst Bloch, who formulated “the hope principle”, that means: hope is not one virtue among many others. Hope is much more: it is the motor of all the others, the capacity for thinking of the new, still untried; the courage to dream another possible and necessary world; the daring to project utopias that make us go forward, and never let us stand on our achievements, or it is that, when we feel defeated, which makes us stand up to retake the journey. Hope is shown by doing, in the commitment to transformation, the daring to overcome obstacles and confront oppression. That hope must never die.

‘Hope Must Not Die’, Leonardo Boff, Eco-Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission, 03-06-2018