by Leonardo Boff
Eco-Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission
We are living through dramatic socio-political times. Never in our history has there been such widespread hate and rage, especially in the social mass media. A terrifying figure that embodies the dark dimension and everything that has been repressed in our history have been elected President. He has infected a great part of his electors. This figure has managed to bring to light the diabolical (that which separates and divides) that always accompanies the symbolical (that which unifies and congregates), in such a devastating way that the diabolical has inundated the consciousness of many and weakened the symbolical to the point of dividing families, tearing friends apart and liberating violence, both verbal and physical. This is directed particularly against the political minorities, who in fact are the numeric majorities, such as the Black population, plus the Indigenous, the quilombolas and those of different sexual orientation.
We need a leader or a few leaders with enough charisma to pacify, or to bring about peace and social harmony: a person of synthesis. The President-elect will not be that person, because he lacks those characteristics. To the contrary, he reinforces the dark dimension, which is present in all of us, but which we control through civility, ethics, morality, and religion, through the dimension of light.
Anthropologists teach us that we are all simultaneously sapiens and demens, or in Freud’s language, we are marked by the principle of life (eros) and the principle of death (Thanatos).
The challenge of each person and of any society is to see that these two energies, that cannot be denied, are balanced, giving hegemony to the sapiens and the principle of life. Otherwise, we would wind up devouring each other.
At present this point of balance has been lost in our country. If we want to coexist and to build a society that is minimally human, we must strengthen the positive forces that are opposing the negative ones. It is urgent that we release the light, tolerance, solidarity, caring, and love for truth that are rooted in our human essence. But how to do it?
The wise men and women of humanity, without forgetting the wisdom of the original peoples, bear witness that there is one and only one path. This path was well expressed by the poverello from Assisi when he sang: where there is hate, may I bring love; where there is discord, may I bring union; where there is darkness, may I bring light and where there is an error may I bring truth.
Truth has been particularly withheld by the former captain who speaks in threats and hate, contrary to the spirit of Jesus, transforming truth into horrible falsehoods and insults. It is good to quote the verse of the great Spanish poet, Antonio Machado: “Your truth, no, the Truth. And come with me, let’s find it together. Your truth, keep it to yourself”. The genuine truth must unite rather than divide us because no one owns the truth. We all participate in the truth, one way or another, without a spirit of ownership.
To defend democracy and social rights, in addition to a broad political front, we need another broad front, formed of all the political, ideological and spiritual tendencies with the values needed to take us out of the present crisis
This is important: we must employ the tools they will never be able to use, such as love, solidarity, fraternity and sisterhood, the right of everyone to be happy and for truth to be transparent, the right to a little corner of Land of the Common Home that God has destined for all, to a decent home, to practice compassion towards those who suffer, with respect and understanding, renouncing any spirit of revenge. It is worth mentioning Pope Francis’ three “t’s”: Tierra, (land), Techo, (home) and Trabajo (work), as fundamental rights.
Through these values, that are also Gospel values, we must attract the faithful of the Pentecostal Churches against the Pastors who are true wolves. On becoming aware of these values, that humanize them and bring them together to the true God who is above and within all, and whose true name is Love and Mercy, instead of threats of hell, the faithful will liberate themselves from servility to a discourse that reaches more into their pockets, than into the good of their souls.
Hate is not defeated by more hate, nor violence by even more violence. Only the hands that intertwine with other hands, shoulders that are offered to the weak, and unconditional love, will let us create, in the words of the unjustly hated Paulo Freire, a less evil society where it is not so hard to love.
This is the secret that would make Brazil a great nation of the tropics that, in the uncontrollable process of globalization, could help put forth a human face; jovial, happy, hospitable, tolerant, tender and fraternal.