Why hope?

Image: Robin Schreiner


To hope is to never give up, not to let our capacity for integrity and fight for a better life rot.

It is a fact that we live in one of the worst moments in history, since the human animal became hegemonic among all living beings. It is also a fact that this worsening of humanity's civilizing condition is intertwined with the unprecedented deterioration of the natural potential of planet Earth. Last but not least, it is true that the spoliation of man by his fellow man, as well as the indifference of our species in relation to others, has favored the feeling of catastrophe that disturbs us. It is then necessary to ask: why hope? I will first try to put together a realistic, albeit brief, picture of the above statements, and then make my considerations on the vital need to maintain resilience and faith in better days.

Let's start by highlighting four unprecedented negative climate indicators, according to the report of the BBC Brazil:[1] hottest day on record; hottest month of June; extreme marine heat waves; and Antarctic sea ice at record lows. Since researchers began to monitor the phenomena of global warming, changes have not been so many or so fast.

In fact, the climatic abnormalities verified in that year of 2023 had never been detected in previous periods. In this sense, if July 6 was the hottest day ever recorded by scientists, with an average global temperature of 17,08ºC – surpassing the 2016 record, equal to 17ºC; if the average global temperature of the last month of June was 1,47ºC higher than the average of the month registered before the pre-industrial period; if the global average ocean temperature has broken records in the last three months and the planet is close to surpassing the 2016 record for the highest sea surface temperature ever recorded; and if the area covered by sea ice in Antarctica is at the lowest level ever recorded, it is very likely that the Earth is entering a moment of total ignorance about its future.

On the other hand, the information that reaches us about the development of the war between Russia and Ukraine only reinforces our worst expectations for the near future. Indeed, the recent news that Russia withdrew from the agreement signed in the middle of last year, which allowed Ukraine to export its grains to the whole world, especially to the most needy countries in Africa and the Middle East, points to the worsening of living conditions, already precarious, of those who have nothing to do with the aforementioned conflict.[2] It is projected that these countries will suffer a new wave of hunger, which will affect most of their populations, if the agreement brokered by the UN and Turkey is not resumed in a short period of time. Judging by the bellicose actions adopted by Russia recently, with repeated bombings of Ukraine's port infrastructure and destruction of thousands of tons of grain already ready for export,[3] it is possible to foresee a humanitarian catastrophe if nothing is done quickly.

Cumulatively to this possible humanitarian catastrophe, there is the specter of the non-sustainability of the planet if the level of consumption of the world population continues to grow in the coming years or even if it remains the same at the current level. It is obvious that we know that this excessive consumption occurs more intensely in more developed countries. This, however, is irrelevant to the planet. What really matters is the average consumption per capita that our generation is promoting on a global scale.

This average consumption “as if there were no tomorrow”, according to specialists, such as economist Marcelo Medeiros, professor at Columbia University, in New York, cannot be sustained for another generation.[4] For him, the solution is short and thick: it is necessary to reduce the consumption of the more affluent social layers, as well as companies of all business segments, with dishonorable mention for the oil industry, under penalty of mass extinction, and not just the human being.

In this vein, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) could be a good alternative to overcome social inequalities, or at least to mitigate them, being the mythical source of liberation of the human animal from the ills of its daily life. Of course, this will never happen under the Enlightenment lights of capitalism. Not even under state socialism, which we have seen flourish in the last century, would this be possible. Indeed, technology has transformed almost all difficult tasks for pre-industrial man into easier tasks and with increasing productivity ever since.

Technological benefits are impregnated in our daily lives, like our blood flow, for those who can pay for them. Let's see: who gives up having a car today, if they can afford one? What about a car with air conditioning? Better, isn't it? Who gives up a latest model cell phone, a mixer, a washing machine? Does anyone think about giving up watching television? Difficult, dear reader. And whenever we look for more innovative products, we are cutting jobs, not to mention the long working hours of the workers who still remain on the floor of ultra-technological factories, which, invariably, result in deaths. There are more than seven hundred thousand deaths per year, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).[5]

Despite all this, I reaffirm my conviction that it is necessary to hope. It is not waiting for better days to come, as Master Paulo Freire has already said. To hope is never to give up, not to let our capacity for integrity and to fight in search of a better life rot. It is the ability to apprehend and react to what seems insoluble, with no way out. At this point, I believe it is essential to recover the great public debates of the not so distant past, such as the 1st World Social Forum, which took place in Porto Alegre/RS, in 2001.

In it, more than 20 people, from 117 countries, debated a multitude of topics in conferences, seminars and workshops, among other cultural activities and deliberative plenary sessions. Brazil will host the 30th UN Conference on Climate Change (COP-30), in November 2025, in Belém (PA). Is there a more appropriate opportunity to discuss real, practical and affordable actions than this one? I know that there have been other “COPs” and nothing has been done. But you have to hope.

Likewise, at the national level, it is imperative that we rescue the exhortation of citizenship, understood here as the apex of any democratic society, especially in terms of social rights. It's past time to build a less unequal, less prejudiced and more inclusive nation. It is no longer a question of overthrowing the dragon of inflation or the monster of abusive hunger, which once again devastated this country in just 6 years, after the impeachment by Dilma Rousseff. More is needed! Lula's return to power brings extra hope, but we cannot settle for just that. Undoubtedly, the country will improve in the next four years.

But rebuilding the country left to the "cacarecos" by the Bolsonarist hordes requires much more. It requires popular participation in all instances of power, whether federal, state or even municipal. If we have learned anything from the history of democracy, since its first experience with the Greeks, it is that without a united people there is no civilizing transformation. Hoping is much more than waiting. To hope is to have faith in your fellow man rewarded.

* André Márcio Neves Soares is a doctoral student in Social Policies and Citizenship at the Catholic University of Salvador (UCSAL).


[1] https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/articles/cl5e1vwywjzo

[2] https://cultura.uol.com.br/noticias/60150_russia-sai-oficialmente-do-acordo-de-graos-do-mar-negro-com-a-ucrania.html;

[3] https://www.terra.com.br/noticias/russia-bombardeia-ucrania-apos-deixar-acordo-de-graos,895f6b352dafd2924504e10ffc9e5702o6bkbmrd.html;

[4] https://noticias.uol.com.br/colunas/jose-roberto-de-toledo/2023/06/24/consumo-no-nivel-atual-e-garantia-de-que-nao-havera-amanha-diz-economista.htm;

[5] https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-57154909;

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