a fair man

Image: Lucas Vinícius Pontes
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By LEONARDO BOFF*

I know and witness a man who by his life, by his example, and by the care of his people, has indeed become a righteous man among the nations.

I know a man. For over 40 years. Where he came from? It came from the existential senzala. He is from the Northeast, disdained by the backward elite who have in their DNA a cowardly contempt for the poor. He is a child of poverty. A famine survivor. A macaw tree that, having left the rural areas of Pernambuco, went to live with his mother and brothers on the outskirts of São Paulo.

The whole large family lived in a corner of a bar. But there was a mother who fulfilled all the roles of father, mother, educator, counselor and example, Ms. Lindu. She knew how to educate all the offspring. To this man he inculcated in his head and heart: Never give up. Never steal. Never lie.

This ethical imperative marked his entire life. As a boy, working in a small market, he was dying to steal an American gum. There was no national. But when he held out his hand, he remembered Dona Lundu: He didn't steal the gum, as he always restrained himself.

I know a man, this man. For a long time it was totally depoliticized. What interested him was football and his favorite team, Corinthians. He managed to take a metallurgist course. He learned by experience, without knowing anything about Marx, what was the added value. In the beginning, with little initial experience, he produced such and such a product. He improved to the point where, with more dexterity and speed, he was able to produce more and more of the same product. But the salary remained the same. To whom did the profit from the surplus of their production go? Not for him but for the boss. Therein lies the entrepreneur's surplus value and accumulation mechanism.

He woke up to the injustice done to workers. He became a union leader. He faced the military dictatorship. He was arrested. Released, he released the eagle that hid within him. His charisma as a leader emerged. He knew how to honestly negotiate with the bosses on a win-win basis.

And he thought: the powerful ruled for all of our history. They ruled only for themselves. We were never included. We were coal to be burned in the production of their factories. Why can't we, the workers who are the majority, also govern our country and govern even better, for everyone, starting with the most exploited and marginalized?

It was then that, together with others, he founded the Workers' Party (PT). He ran for governor and for president of the country. He lost. But he never renounced the inner urge, inspired by his mother: never give up. He insisted in his interventions: we must allow everyone to eat at least three times a day, have their little house with electric light, be able to educate themselves and send their sons and daughters to quality schools. Enjoy life and coexistence.

And the mystery of all things wanted him, from the floor below, from marginalization and exclusion, to reach the central power of the country. For the first time in our history, an Earth convict organized, as president, a policy in which everyone won, including the wealthy, but above all those who had been on the hunger map for decades. No longer could you hear the canine cries of children tugging at their mothers' skirts, asking for food they lacked. Millions were included in society, thousands of poor people and people of African descent, through quotas, were able to attend higher education courses. Indigenous people, quilombolas, women and others of another sexual orientation found understanding and defense in him. More than killing hunger, it gave them human dignity back.

Someone gets up, not without a certain amount of arrogance, and announces: “God chose me to save the country; he is inscribed even in my name Messiah”. The other just says: “I thank God for allowing me to come this far and be able to feed millions of people”. The speeches have different tones: one emphasizes an alleged divine call, regardless of his effort. The other, fought and strived to fulfill that purpose. And he thanks God, after much struggle and tireless sacrifices.

The world accompanied everything. As president, heads of state vying to hear his experiences and advice. It emerged as one of the world's greatest leaders. Invited to support the war against Iraq, he wisely replied: my war is not against a people, it is against the hunger and misery of millions in my country and humanity.

Everything that is healthy can become sick. Sectors of their governments were affected by the disease of corruption. They were denounced and punished. But it has never been proven that this man took any personal advantage from corruption due to his status as president.

If there's something that pisses him off deeply, it's when he's called a thief. Where is your mansion? Where are your bank accounts in Brazil, abroad or in a tax haven? Can anyone point it out without lying? As a candidate, his life was scrutinized in minute detail. Nothing was found. Neither an apartment, which he never lived in, nor a friend's place that never belonged to him. He lives in an apartment like any citizen who held the position he held, good but modest.

I know and witness the transparency, honesty and wholeness of this man. He said to me a few times: you who speak to numerous audiences say, in my name: I never gave fifty cents to anyone, I never received fifty cents from anyone. I never appropriated anything from anyone. And if this accuser continues to claim that I am a thief, tell him he is a liar. And if he persists in saying so, challenge him to go to court, show the evidence to accuse him of being a thief. Confirm, if I was personally a thief, I will accept the rigor of the law. I will return double all that he falsely stole. I want to be arrested.

I know a man who endured all kinds of slander, slander and humiliation. His wife died of grief. His grandson died early and created a thousand difficulties for him to say goodbye to his loved one. When he left this world, the older brother who had him as a father, they took him to a short wake, surrounded by armed soldiers as if they were leading a dangerous villain.

They broke into your home without warning. They searched everything, the mattresses and even took the grandchildren's toys that have not been returned to this day. Finally, a judge recognized by the Supreme Court (STF) as partial and, as a result, the lawsuits filed against him were subsequently invalidated. The corrupt and partial judge condemned him "for an undetermined crime", something that is not found in any penal code, not even in the ancestor of Hammurabi, some millennia before our era. For 580 days he was held under strict surveillance. He could have resisted or taken refuge in an embassy. No. He stayed with his people. In prison he reviewed his life, the successes and mistakes of his government, studied in depth the main aspects of our country and world geopolitics. He became spiritualized and left full of humanism, hope and determination to work especially for the poor.

But his arrest had a perverse consequence: he opened the way for president to a sinister figure, an enemy of life and his people, driven by the drive for death and hatred. His denialism and his total lack of empathy allowed, impassive, the death of at least 300 thousand people by the coronavirus.

The election came. His adversary, who excels in ignorance, brutality and a murderous mind, used every possible and impossible means to defeat him, from the corruption of a billionaire secret budget to the entire state apparatus, within which “the cabinet of hate” functioned. . This one spread lies, fake news, slander and obscenities against him. Even the state police apparatus was activated in favor of his candidacy. All in vain.

Wisdom won over irrationality, truth over lies, love over hate. He was proclaimed president of the country. He was recognized by the highest authorities in the country, in the world, from Xi Jinping, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. Even without being sworn in, he has already been invited to COP27 in Egypt to discuss the new climate regime and to Davos, where the wealthy gather to hear their type of economy, as the present one is in agony.

I know this man, charismatic, cordial, incapable of having hate in his heart and ready to dialogue with everyone. We heard from him and learned from his example that it is always important to defend democracy, give priority to the poor, defend the Amazon against the voracity of savage capital and seek a world that is good for everyone and that will be. As one president put it: "The world misses this man."

He deserves the highest commendation that biblical-Jewish tradition bestows on a worthy citizen of the world: he is a just man among the nations.

I know and witness a man who by his life, by his example, and by his care for his people, has indeed become a righteous man among the nations.

Your name does not need to be mentioned. The parent knows him. The world recognizes him.

*Leonardo Boff, ecologist, philosopher and writer, is a member of the International Commission of the Earth Charter. Author, among other books, of Brazil: complete the refoundation or extend the dependency (Vozes).

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