What's your excuse?

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By RAIMUNDO BASTOS*

In Brazil, it is easier to transform what is strong into fair than what is fair into strong, and thus the farcical dance of our morality is constituted.

It is said that in wars what guaranteed a good night's sleep to a pious young soldier, after murdering 10, 20, 30 people in a battle, was the size of his conviction that such acts were endowed with virtues: “I killed, but in defense of the homeland", "I killed, but I killed in defense of our families", "I killed, 10, 20, 30, I don't know how many more I killed, but if I killed them it was for a noble cause, the cause that brought us to here".

This purpose of not carrying with you guilt or a bad conscience was reinforced by the fact that such virtues were a social consensus and by the law that in war there is no freedom of choice, because either you kill or you die. Therefore, in the absence of freedom of choice, another conduct would become unenforceable, guaranteeing the good conscience of the innocent. With the force of habit, obviously, it was no longer necessary to practice this exercise of self-justification, so that one just closed one's eyes and forgetfulness took care of what would take away the sheep's candor.

So far, nothing new, we know for an evil to be committed and a good conscience to remain intact, a good justification is enough, and anyone looking for them will not take long to find them. Oh! How versatile are the justifications to defend us against all the guilt and the asphyxiating responsibility that is to be a moral subject! And wouldn't justifications be the best shields and swords in defending this second skin of ours called reputation?

Over here in Brazil, which never demanded any participation from its soldiers in these great slaughters against external enemies; although many here dream that their marlin should be bigger than that of Napoleon Bonaparte, as well portrayed by our Witch from Cosme Velho, the death of more than 408 Brazilian men and women, in the absence of pandemic management, has provoked in society a agonizing search for justifications for acts that go against scientific laws; laws that are proven to prevent deaths, including social distancing and the temporary suspension of non-essential activities. In view of this, some say that “all work is essential if it provides daily bread”.

Others, on the other hand, adopt a position of breaking scientific law itself by maintaining that these are conspiracy laws created by opposition to the government. Over there, others parasitize in a strategy that is nothing more than the caricature of the penal institute of the unenforceability of diverse conduct: “as I would die of hunger, I cannot act so that others do not die of COVID, I have no freedom of choice, therefore I am not guilty ”. About the latter, we endorse that there really are people who do not have freedom of choice, but we refer to those who have freedom, but perversely take advantage of the rhetorical force of the argument to be absolved of guilt.

Finally, we have that group that generically uses mental health as a justification for non-compliance with isolation or social distancing, would it be the group of pre-imputable ones? “I need to go out, I need to go to the gym, see friends, go to bars, cafes, because I'm going to go crazy”. The fact is that even Father Antônio Vieira, anointed with his fierce sacrosanct rhetoric, would have difficulties in a sermon aimed at moralizing the situation, because, in fact, it is an arduous and complex task to make people admit something when their livelihood depends, above all, on everything, they don't admit it.

In this vein, we are in the phase of the festival of justifications so that evil, without the brake of guilt and responsibility, continues to be practiced, and, naturally, some stick, but others do not. However, it is there, a continuous act, inexorable and irremediable, possible and effective, the evil, happening in a chain of events endowed with causality: crowds, infections, hospitalizations, and deaths that would be avoidable. Deaths that, by the causal law of nature, affect those most vulnerable to the virus. It is a law which, up to the present time, has not been strongly opposed by the children of God.

However, from another perspective, it is necessary to recognize that unlike the pious soldier at the beginning of the text who needed to purge his guilt to obtain peace of his good conscience and, thus, have a good night's sleep, we live in times when having a good or a bad conscience in matters involving ethical decisions, does not make that much difference, because we live in times of cynicism, as wittily interprets the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek: “people know what they do, and yet they do it”.

Therefore, no matter how diversified the points of view are in our complex society, notably influenced by the relativization of the laws of causality, where anything can be given as the cause of anything else, it is no mystery to anyone that by breaking the deliberations we are killing people who could have had their lives spared. In this way, it is reasonable to consider that it is not due to lack of information that people fail to comply with health protocols, since information is available in all media and, at the very least, someone close to you who has died from Covid-19 is known, and the well it would have been if that death had been averted.

About the festival of justifications, it is sociological to recognize, it constitutes the social rite that aims at repairing the damage caused to the individual reputation before the community in the face of the imputation of guilt to those who in some way acted contrary to the sanitary norms prescribed by science, to the instead of seeking to repair the damage caused to the dead victims and their families. After all, no one wants to be seen as someone who is indifferent to the death of another, nor to be seen as someone who has one or more of the more than 408 deaths on their backs, so they resort, with great conviction, to the justifications that seek to hinder cause and effect in the search for absolution.

Adapted to reputation protection, Brazilian society has a history of producing a kind of “second skin” over itself, including through well-elaborated justifications. We mean, despite being racist, we build the skin of racial democracy, despite being violent, we build the skin of “cordiality”, despite being extremely unequal, we build the skin of an “anarchic but harmonious society”; and now, affected by the pandemic, there is a suggestion of valuing life and sanitary control.

In this sense, it is notorious that in Brazil, for various reasons, it is easier to transform what is strong into fair than what is fair into strong, and thus constitutes farcical – or tragic? – of our morality. Therefore, more than a good conscience, the Brazilian seems to be committed to defending imaginary reputations in a fairy tale for adults and which is gaining space in the institutions.

It is ironic, however, that in a society in which results are more important than excuses, we are so elusive of the global result of our indifference to death, a result that raised us to the podium: we are part of the pandemic epicenter of the world, we have the highest rate of deaths per XNUMX inhabitants in the Americas, we are among the highest absolute mortalities in the world, and we are the breadbasket, or, as traditional journalists say: the “covid-bearer” of new strains that threaten the effectiveness of large-scale vaccination global.

In addition, despite the fact that care for reputation is something inexorable in the existence of society, it is not the main element that constitutes good morals, since reputation, whether true or false, is the effect of morals and not the opposite. . Brazil, once again, in its disguised embarrassment, deliberately confuses cause and effect. First, society, with responsibility and without excuses, builds its moral foundations, whether around fundamental legal values ​​and principles such as life, freedom, equality, human dignity, citizenship, or on the basis of historical and social values; and once these values ​​are effective, society has the morale to defend its reputation. Is there anyone who thinks the Nordic countries have earned a good reputation in the world through excuses and justifications?

We try to admit in this article that almost always the denial of an evil, so that social appearances remain intact, finds rhetorical force in justifications, which, in turn, constitute the reparative social environment with the function of neutralizing the perception of that evil through a confusion in the causal link that affects it. Someone contrary to rationalism, such as, for example, David Hume, would say that causality is the creation of a mental habit and, therefore, dispenses with associative normativity so that anything can produce anything else. Thus, in moral terms, everyone would be free to produce their own moral causality regarding the pandemic, and, consequently, the validity of their justifications.

However, we conclude by suggesting that the pandemic harshly teaches us that we need to insist on a moral conscience that is in line with scientific knowledge, between “nomos"and "physical”, between should-be and being, so that this will influence the starting points of ethical decisions that better enable us to distinguish between behaviors that cause harm from those that cause good. However, this requires clashes and uncomfortable situations; demands the intensification of the republican spirit.

As much as society is extremely complex, and several interests are at stake, valuing life, if we want it to be an inviolable good, demands from us an asphyxiating but necessary sense of responsibility that can no longer be postponed if we decide to abandon the mantle of appearances that guarantees our innocence, but which, paradoxically, causes us a fascination with evil, which, like our second skin, we start to wear as a constituent part of morality.

Finally, it is part of the human condition itself that the sublime beauty of the virtues is a condition for the concealment of evil and consequent transgression of good. Thus, by using virtues such as freedom and work to cover up deaths, society inverts values ​​by placing the inviolability of life in second place.

*Raimundo Bastos

 

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