barbarian souls

Carlos Zilio, THE MOMENT OF THE HURT, 1970, felt-tip pen on paper, 47x32,5


Moïse's murder shows that the political system that produced barbarism pretends that it is the result of chance.

The images of the murder of Moïse, a Congolese immigrant beaten to death in Barra da Tijuca, in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro, speak for themselves, and it is not a rare fact that we are called to witness, as tragedies like this are recurrent in All country.

Our testimony should contribute to changes in direction, however, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (540 – 470 BC) said: “For men who have barbarous souls, eyes and ears are bad witnesses”.

It is true that having perfect eyes and ears is useless if you do not want to see and hear reality. Brazilians watch with a mixture of revolt and indignation, others with total indifference, the naturalization of barbarism. Those who killed him are monsters, Justice must take care of them. But a society that feeds racism, xenophobia and hatred of what is diverse is also complicit in this act.

The current time presents us with other tragedies – individual and collective – that are not exclusive to us, but are spreading around the world with the pandemic. Prolonged isolation has taught that the enemy can be within the individual, and that it is not possible to run away from oneself.

In Heraclitus' world in motion, becoming is the rule, which is poetically expressed in the fragment: “It is not possible to step into the same river twice”. Or, according to another variation: “In the same rivers we enter and do not enter, we are and we are not”. The waters that pass incessantly are always other, as well as being.

The pandemic has shown us the other side of the river. For two years – some battles won, others painfully demanded – we were isolated with the feeling that everything revolved around the same room, in the company of one or two close people. But it is reasonable to assume that repetition has taught us the lessons of tragic experiences, leading us to remake our lives by other shortcuts, while the current of murky waters of the coronavirus flooded the margins of our coexistence. A word on the other end of the line was enough for the sensibility.

The lives of artists, scientists and all those who ventured to say something about the unusualness of everyday life during a pandemic went in and out of fashion, while the population continued to see the danger of contagion before their eyes with the emergence of new variants. There was no lack of words of support, but the repetition of the rituals turned into an annoying haze.

Heraclitus' being of change obeyed a universal law that harmonized tensions. “Everything is done by contrast; the most beautiful harmony is born from the struggle of opposites”. In his thinking, opposites meet, just like the bow and the lyre. These oppositions do not become irreconcilable disorder, since the essential unity of being, as of all things, harbors multiplicity.

It is not possible to guarantee exactly the meaning of concepts that date from such distant times. In the case of Heráclito, the readings are based on an almost endless intertextuality. Today we talk about diversity – cultural, ethnic, religious, sexual – to translate the coexistence between groups of individuals in society. The voices harmonize within the same space, with the usual divergences. However, we must never forget: the world has many sides where barbarian souls inhabit.

Intolerance can reach the individual at the first corner, its reaction to what is different is violent and brutal. The other, which was previously invisible, has now become a challenging element. He has another culture, other values, another way of being in the world. His presence is uncomfortable, his celebration an offense and his prayer heresy.

There are those who defend intolerance without constraints, including in the media. A few days ago, the presenter of a website with thousands of followers defended, in an interview with federal deputies, the idea that Brazil should legally have a Nazi party, in addition to establishing a debate with the Nazis. The question remains: in the field of ideas or in concentration camps turned into museums?

It is not uncommon for proposals of this type to be confused with freedom of expression. After defending the system that exterminated millions of Jews, the youtuber he issued a pathetic apology that no one outside his circle considered. It was a ruse to get around the damage, as sponsors of the swampy ideas site he ran retreated.

The political system that produced barbarism pretends that it is the result of chance. Crimes resulting from discrimination or prejudice are provided for by law, with strict punishments that should curb violence, after all they were not prepared for this purpose. There is no lack of laws in Brazil, but reality is unsurpassed in its errands.

*Marcio Salgado is a journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of the novel The Philosopher of the Desert (Multifocus).


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