Brazil's hidden problems
Order and progress
What do you think of when you think of Brazil?
The first things that come to mind when you think of Brazil are what? Football, Sun, Beaches, Coffee, Beautiful Women. Probably something along these lines...
Before I set foot on South America I really didn't think much else about Brazil. Through spending years living here the first things I think of when I think of Brazil are not necessarily these things I just listed as I now know that Brazil has a much darker side. Yes, like every country it has its problems but in my eyes Brazil has many that are not publicised.
looks perfect right?
Religion - positive
Christianity is the main religion in Brazil, Catholicism still holding the majority however Evangelism has a very large growing following in Brazil.
I am not going to tell you what I think about christianity, I'm just going to tell you the positive and negative effects I see that it has on this country.
Brazil has a poor economy, the majority of people that work here are underpaid. Despite these often tough living conditions many people (many regular church goers and non church goers alike) put their faith in God, believe that god is in control of their lives and use this as a way to get by without allowing themselves to become overwhelmed by their many difficulties caused by poor finances.
Another positive is the warm and sharing nature of many which coming from a christian upbringing I know is something taught by the church. Many people here live a minimalist life but doesn't cause them to think twice when it comes to sharing food or lending possessions to others. At times even to strangers.
Are you religious?
Do you consider yourself a religious person
Negatives of Religion in Brazil
With religion often comes very rigid thinking. While rigid thinking can be looked at in a positive light it can also be very, very negative. In Brazil gay people frequently have a tough time. Most often from the christian community. I am even from time to time sent emails and facebook messages regarding a church organisation that has a 'cure' to homosexuality! That states that you must 'cure your homosexual children so that they will not be damned for eternity' To further that posts are often circulated around the likes of facebook saying that same sex parents are not parents and that no-one is born gay. Despite science proving otherwise...
Dishonesty is almost part of Brazilian culture, its often hard for a day to pass without coming into contact with dishonest people or situations. Dishonesty is something that many believe can be forgiven by a prayer, a trip to confession or even a trip to church. While the extremely passionate christians may be more honest than the less passionate, in my eyes lying is too common in this country, something that I have never come across so rife in any other area of the world. I believe that the idea that you can do wrong and be forgiven by god is something that is holding this place back from becoming a more honest country. While wherever you go there will be dishonesty, in Brazil thieving and lying is second nature for too many.
Dishonesty runs from the illegal dvd's for sale that you come across on the street to the politicians who syphon money from public companies into their personal accounts and EVERYTHING in between.
Many of the christian teachings out here have little to no logic. When that is combined with a below par education system so many people are brought up to be told things that come without understanding, without reason. They are expected to accept this, which in turn leaves children uninterested in schools where they are left thinking they are waiting to be told things that they have to believe. I am in no way saying that this goes for all the population, as there are several smart, educated people here but I am speaking of the probable majority.
While habits like dishonesty are had to break when they become normality, I do believe that the strong hold that religion has on Brazil is suppressing the masses.
In Brazil your hear Jesus and God spoken about regularly
In Brazil you have to vote, while you can choose to vote for no-one it is necessary for you to turn up and cast your vote, not doing so will result in arrest, losing the right to work and often prison. A close friend of mine tells me that when he first registered to vote, over 10 years ago, he voted for his chosen candidate but since then has always voted for no-one as his vote involves always is about voting for the 'least bad' candidate.
Let me give you an example of 'politics' here. There are local elections ongoing as I write this. In the city Belo Horizonte where I live one of the candidates is the ex-president of the football team Clube Atletico Mineiro, who are one of the big two teams in Belo Horizonte. No problem there.... however he has been recorded on video saying that he will pay off some of the football teams debts if he is elected. Which is effectively bribery when it is in a country where football is something that is in the people's blood. I personally know more than one person who is voting for him despite disagreeing with his policies because he will help their team who have the biggest debt of all football teams in Brazil at a staggering R$400,000,000 in local currency.
With elected politicians there is a long list of liars and thieves and thats just the ones that have been caught. People get very angry at these people with power being dishonest and stealing yet when I ask them about their lies or theft it apparently does not matter because it is on a small scale and nobody or very few are getting hurt. My friends who I discuss these things in detail with agree with me when I say that things are not going to change up at the top (with the government) unless it starts to change from the bottom as a way to flush out the corruption.
However a statement that I am often left hearing is 'I just do it because everybody else does'
That statement is something that leads me on to my next topic, Driving.
too common here
When I first got off the plane and got in a car here in Brazil I very quickly witnessed some quite horrific car crashes on the motorway. To which I was told 'thats Brazil'
So in the years since then as I have accustomed to driving on the other side of the road along with erratic drivers who make too many last minute dangerous moves on the road along with illegal maneuvers and with minimal use of indicators give a necessity for a high level of concentration. When I first started driving here I quickly became accustomed to the Idea of doing illegal moves for the main purpose of time saving all until very quickly I did a U-turn on a road you were not allowed to and another driver misread what I was doing and dinked the back of my car. Since then I have realised that it is not worth doing anything you shouldn't like dodgy turns or running red lights etc. as if you are not at your best one day it could and will inevitably lead to a bump a possibly a crash. My car now fits in with the majority of cars in Brazil now having some sort of bump or dent in it.
There are probably 101 different reasons I could give you to why driving is like this here, but I'm going to go with the reason that it is normality. It is so easy to get caught up in copying what 'everyone else' does. Combine that with the lack of good public education and yes many, many people do not choose to wear their seatbelts. Crazy! I know. Even more so with the ridiculously high car accident rates here.
To relate to an earlier point with this idea of not needing to wear seat belts, upon asking unbelted travellers to put their seat-belts on they look at me like I'm crazy and say that they won't be in a crash because God is looking out for them. This again leads me to believe that Religion combined with poor education is suppressing the people of Brazil.
So what is the answer? There is no simple answer, obviously. But time will tell, I guess. What will change over the near and more distant future in this wonderful yet troubled country, Brazil.