Could be worse

Image: Stela Grespan


In the crises of capitalism, we realize that millions of people lose not only their jobs, but their dignity

It is not necessary to understand economics to know that Brazil is becoming impoverished. It doesn't matter if a staggering 1,1% was added to GDP; anyone with common sense and a minimum of sensitivity already understands that poverty has returned to Brazil and that the celebrated 1,1% may represent just another small increase in the purchasing power of the richest. At the other end of growing inequality, we observe that since 2019 the number of families living on the streets has risen much more than GDP. I don't know if these families are included in the statistics that measure economic development. But the finding is empirical. Those who pass by these people on foot immediately realize that they are newcomers to the life of the homeless: in addition to the old mattress and the worn blanket, the new beggars still cling to other household objects rescued from the eviction, mimicking a kind of home. outdoors. A four-burner stove, without a gas cylinder or accompanied by an empty cylinder. A small shelf with school books for children who, in their new homeless life, may no longer be able to go to school. The dog food bowl, as all homeless people have at least one, very well treated by the way. They are not farts. They are the flea best friends of their poor owners.

These often ask passers-by to buy a box of food. I tried, the first time, to give the price of the lunchbox in cash, but the guy didn't accept it: “Ma'am, it's no use having money. I'm very dirty, no one will let me in to buy food. Buy me a meal?” Irresistible demand. From that day on, whenever someone says they're hungry – and more and more people are starving on the streets – I'd rather buy a packed lunch than give change. When asked I buy a bag of feed too. They remind me of the lambe-lambe that I saw glued to a pole near the house: “his stomach rumbled, but he shared his lunch box of eggs and rice with that mangy dog ​​who was the disgrace of his life”.

In the subway, it is forbidden to give alms – that is, it is forbidden to enter people who bother users, asking for money. The issue, for the subway, is to protect payers from any constraints during the trip. Even so, people get into a car, tell a piece of the sad story that led them to that condition and ask for help. At the next station they get off running and try another wagon. I, despite having been educated in liberation theology during my adolescence – “don't give a man a fish, teach him how to fish” – keep all the 2 and 5 reais bills so I don't leave any beggars empty-handed. To avoid embarrassment, payers traveling on the subway avoid looking beggars in the eye, which only makes things worse for them. It's not just about the money: the most painful thing is to observe, or imagine, the humiliation to which a person exposes himself by presenting his need to the respectable public and being faced with general indifference. My father, who did not follow any religion, used to tell us, in front of beggars: “he needs it more than you”. And I don't believe that it is necessary to abandon people to a state of greater helplessness waiting for them to rebel and "make the revolution". Since Marx we already know that the lumpesinate does not make any revolution. They spend their time, energy and imagination on the difficult task of surviving.

In the crises of capitalism, we realize that millions of people lose not only their jobs, but their dignity. Even if they keep their work cards, ID cards and voter registration cards, they are treated as remains. Even if eventually they still don't live on the streets, they are already out of place. Society doesn't need them; the country does not need them. They are worthless. Unless…

…That's where God comes in. They are worth nothing except to God. And the more suffering (this is Catholic Christianity), the more loved by the Father. Or else: the more money they give to the church for the glory of their faith (this is the entrepreneurial face of Calvinism), the more rewarded by the Father. Or, in the modern version of the same Calvinism: the more gigantic the temple that the pastor builds with your help, the more important you must be in his eyes. The gigantic and hideous temple of the followers of Edir Macedo attests to the commitment of the poor faithful. Perhaps the reader, or a fellow contributor to Carta Maior, will help me to believe that there is a way out in sight for this monstrous combination of religious fanaticism and apology for violence. For it was the evangelical governor of Rio who proclaimed the infallible method of combating crime: the PM should shoot, from the top of the helicopters, “in the little head” of alleged bandits. For thieves, the death penalty. Outlaw. The innocents affected will be counted as collateral damage, inevitable in every struggle between good and evil.

*Maria Rita Kehl is a psychoanalyst, journalist and writer. Author, among other books, of Displacements of the feminine: the freudian woman in the passage to modernity(Boitempo).

Originally published on the website Major Card


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