Sunday, August 06, 2006

Brazil - The Land of Surprises

I try not to talk politics too much at home, because an argument usually ensues; one which neither side can hope to win, but with both sides usually ending up frustrated and upset. But travelling is different, because it´s somehow easier to avoid actual debate, and simply learn other points of view while getting to know people a little...

And just like anywhere else, there are many anti-americans, socialists, or non-political people. I´ve even met people that think that George W. Bush is to blame for the favelas here in Brazil; I almost cracked up when I heard that one...

But last night, I had a bit a shock. Greg and I went out with a group of French guys, and a couple of British girls. There were 4 French guys, and I kid you not, they were to a man pro-capitalist, pro-Bush, pro-American, business students. I almost fell out of my chair! Heck, one more Cerveja and I would have!!! I expected to have a slightly altered world-view after this trip, but my God, I did NOT expect to be impressed by the politics of the people of France!! Don´t get me wrong, I have much respect for the culture and history of France, but I must admit I had generalized their politics in a most disrespectful way.

And for that, my French friends, I must apologize. Vivé la France!!


*Em* said...

Jer, I answer this post of course because of my french heritage, but the problem that I have with it is not what you think "the politics if the people of France" is but the fact that you thought there was some sort of politic ideology that everybody of that nation shares.

What's great about this world is that each individual has opinions that are truly unique to them, formed by many different life experiences that really two persons cannot share. It's also the case for political opinions; there are millions of subleties left out of a vote ballot. If you reduce people to being capitalists, socialists, liberals, non political and conservatives it's very narrow and it's kind of boring. You can probably label the leaders of those parties like that but I don't think it's fair to preconceive everybody in their ruled country to their image.

You know, it's the phrase "my God, I did NOT expect to be impressed by the politics of the people of France!!" that I found disrespectful. I guess now you got the confirmation that there are pro-capitalist, pro-Bush, pro-American people all around the world and that kind of political view seems to impress you. But I think that you overestimate the "Anti-Bush" phenomenon. There are obviously lots of americans that are anti-bush because if they don't like him they are stuck with him and they want to get rid of him cause it's their country, it's only logical.

But out of the US, let me assure you that a lot of people that you call "anti-Bush" could'nt care less about him and the way he leads his country and apparently wishes he ruled the world. Personnally, I think that he's just another power-hungry man without much interesting things to say (and he shares that category with a lot of others-not that important). People have lives; what the president of the United States is about is pretty low on mine and probably a lot of others list of what matters.

Now if you ask those people specifically what they think of him, they will give him the necessary attention to answer your question. Then the fact that he is all over the map of recent violent news will make a lot of people around the world say that he is a lousy prime minister and they'll tell you that they are anti him even if they don't care about him at all. Violence is just lame and his fault or not he's always right in the middle of it like some boy who just wants to play war to get agressivity out but forgot that he could hit on a baseball or a hockey puck instead and then deal with his neighbors like a tolerant and decent human being even if the neighbors seem like freaks to him with their weird religion. And if you want to cite 9-11 to justify his violence magnet ruling of his country, please; kids at recess are supposed to learn that when someone punches your face there's no point in punching back.

My last question is are you only impressed by the opinions of people who agree with you politically? Politics should never be about winning. In 2006, at a time of horrible and unnecessary violence all over the middle east, we should learn a lesson and gear our political discussions toward tolerance and finding a way to respect our diversity.

*Em* said...

I know this is pretty intense; I got a bit worked up but I thought you might want to read my opinion anyway. I really enjoy reading your blog because you're not afraid to say what you think even if it's controversial and I admire that. Also, I take this opportunity to tell you that I wrote the worked up anonymous comments that you were wondering about a few weeks ago! Ok, I was also the informative anonymous about favela activism... I chose to go anonymous because usually people don't give me much credibility and I did'nt want that to affect the discussion. Anyway,now you can stop guessing!!!

Rocketman1200 said...

Ahah! My mystery commenter reveals herself!! Thank you for your informed and intelligent commenting, please don´t be upset enough that you stop!

Of course, you understand that I myself am revealing my biases and stereotypes in this post on purpose. One thing I believe is that everybody, no matter how open-minded holds stereotypes and generalizations of cultures that they don´t know enough about. The difference between ignorance and enlightenment is the degree of education and life experience.

I understand that it might not be fair to label everyone in a country as holding a particular political belief, especially now! But on the other hand, these labels are what the mind needs to have in order to organize and understand the world based on limited information about it. And when it finds out something that is contradictory to the organization that it has constructed, it must be flexible enough to reorder itself. That doesn´t mean that it can´t be surprised when it learns of this new information!

This of course also applies to the surprise I feel knowing it was you that wrote those comments about inequality! I would not expect someone who studied art to know as much as you do about economics! I mean no disrespect by that generalization, as of course many people have varied interests outside of their main pursuits.

Lastly, to your question, I´m always impressed by an informed OPINION. Opinions are important to me, whether I agree with them or not. But I´m of course more impressed when someone has reached the same conclusions as me, especially if they reach them in a different cultural environment than I have. The only thing that does not impress me is when someone refuses to form an opinion about something, or can express negative sentiments about someone or something without being bothered to consider that they could be completely wrong.