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Intercultural awareness and dialogue

Paulo Freire

When I think of Paulo Freire, I always think of him in motion, in space-time and with space-time, seeking to dynamically build the dreamed future from the concrete present. According to him, the future is not inexorable; we have to do it, to produce it, or it won't come out the way we more or less wanted it to. We cannot do it in an arbitrary way, but with the materials, with the concrete that we have added to the dream we fight for.

In this sense, education is a fundamental issue as an act of knowledge, not only of contents, "but of the reason for being of economic, political, ideological, historical facts, which explain the greater or lesser degree of interdiction of the conscious body to that we are subjected”. (Freire, Education as a practice of freedom).

Conscientization for Freire is a category and a central process. If for dogmatic and mechanistic positions, both on the right and left spectrum of political thought, consciousness takes shape as a kind of epiphenomenon, as an automatic and mechanical result of structural changes, for Freire, critical consciousness, as understood by him, it is not pure reflection, even if it is not the cause of reality. And here I would like to quote him literally when he speaks masterfully about the process of critical awareness:

If there is no awareness without unveiling the objective reality, as an object of knowledge of the subjects involved in its process, such unveiling, even if it results in a new perception of reality being laid bare, is still not enough to authenticate awareness. Thus, the gnosiological cycle does not end at the stage of knowledge, awareness cannot stop at the stage of unveiling reality. Its authenticity occurs when the practice of unveiling reality constitutes a dynamic and dialectical unity with the practice of transforming reality: knowledge-of-reality-and-transformation-of-reality, in its dialectics. (Freire, Cultural action for freedom and other writings).


intercultural dialogue

A second topic that I propose as a contribution deals with the issue of intercultural dialogue. I remember that in a conversation with Boaventura de Sousa Santos, back in 2008, dealing with something that he points out as the need for a “sociology of translations”, in the sense of establishing a base of understandable meanings and words between the diversities of struggles fought over time present, which sometimes cause impediments to reciprocal understanding between subjects-and-groups due to the fractionation and specificity of the guidelines in action, I asked him about reports of experiments in the application of his theory. But he didn't know, at the time, to point out any.

Freire notes something of importance. He affirms that the way to carry out intercultural dialogues is mainly to work on the similarities between them, and not just the differences, to create unity in diversity, outside of which he does not see how to improve and even how to build a democracy (or democracies, I would say) substantive and radical. (Freire, Pedagogy of Hope).

Following this line, therefore, the question of dialogue arises, not as an accessory component, but as a central one in the process of transforming reality, as a means to build bridges between the different parts with their unique projects, as well as to mend broken threads and initiate new communication formats between cultures and freedoms. And in this sense, continuing the inquiries started with Boaventura, I ask: what would be the preconditions for broad, clear, honest, welcoming and proactive dialogues to take place?

The Italian Chiara Lubich (1920-2008), winner of the Education for Peace award (UNESCO-1996), offers a very challenging method, very close to the thought of Lao-Tse (604-517 BC), founder of Taoism. The central core of the dialogue proposed by her is in “making oneself one”. This method implies a double movement: going out of oneself (=emptying oneself) to accept the reality of the other, in a type of integration that would neither be an annulment of oneself nor a fusion with the other, but concretizing an availability of effective listening and reciprocal relationship, freeing heart and mind, to create within themselves a place of silence in which the other can speak without suffering constraints. The second movement consists, as a consequence, of containing the other within oneself, by overcoming the confines of oneself, establishing a new relational residence in which feelings and thoughts become a kind of mutual heritage, capable of triggering changes. and point paths. (Vera Araújo in O Conflito, manuscript, 2010).

In fact, as Alain Badiou reminds us, Thought can only be released from its impotence through something that exceeds its order. Only through an irreplaceable operation, capable of rearranging death and life in their places, showing that life does not necessarily take the place of death. For Badiou, this operation is called “resurrection”, understood as the reinvention of a way of life that deviates from repetition and produces new models of thinking, living and acting. Resurrection implies a new faith together with a new militancy. The living Subject must determine itself not only in its emergence, but also in its work. Love is the labor of which faith is capable. Believing proves effective through love. Through love it is discovered that our energy is not against the truth, but for the truth. An energy can only be true if it takes into account all of humanity, without exception. There is only singularity if there is the universal; otherwise, outside the truth, there is only particularity. (Badiou in The foundation of universalism, Boitempo, 2009).

Also, as Emmanuel Levinas attests, the responsibility of the I before a totally strange face that stares at it constitutes the primitive fact of human fraternity, it is the basic posture of the ethical human. Responsibility for others is what is most substantial in me and what constitutes me as a human being. It is what gives “spirit to the humus”. The other, in his vulnerability, makes me equally vulnerable and I am not able to dodge his gaze. When I perceive it, not only through my intelligence, but through my consciousness, I feel it as if under my skin. I put myself in your place and suffer your suffering in me. Feeling in myself the suffering of the other is a dimension, as we saw above, typical of the Lubichian “becoming one”, to understand the other in their reality as much as possible and to be in solidarity with them in the quest to overcome their suffering. Ethics, understood in Levinas's perspective, is affirmed through the face-to-face relationship with the other. The passage from ethics to politics is marked by the presence/arrival of a third party, meaning others, the multiplicity of subjects that found and constitute the polis..(Apud. Lana in Marcel Mauss and the Essay on the Gift, Journal of Political Sociology, June 2000).

Or, as can also be seen in the perspective of “transmodernity” presented by the Argentinean Enrique Dussel: it is necessary to break the coloniality of power, knowledge and being in the Western world, based on the denied exteriority that emerges as a category of analysis of alterity , in an Ethics of Liberation, which starts from the other as a victim of Western Eurocentric modernity.

Finally, as stated by Albert Jacquard, going back in the past, in the six million years in which the origin of the homo, all human beings are related because they come from the same germ (brothers = germanus). What's more, if we go back three billion years to the origin of living beings, human beings are related to all living beings. Unlike the others, only the Homo was able to build humanity, that is its specificity. To be human is to participate in this construction. Rescuing fraternity is, therefore, feeling like brothers and sisters of all humans, to recover the gregarious feeling lost in the process of civilization, to re-brother humanity. (Jacquard in Philosophy for non-philosophers, Campus, 1998).

I conclude with Caetano Veloso:

people look at the sky
People want to know the One
people is the place
Of asking the One

People are very good
People must be the good
You have to take care
To respect the good

mirror people of life
Sweet mystery

*Alexandre Aragão de Albuquerque Master in Public Policy and Society from the State University of Ceará (U.

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