Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

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„The virtual family“. Frei Betto, Brasiliens wichtigster Befreiungstheologe. „Declaring my vote“.

The de-institutionalising of the family is one of the most marked features of the crisis in modernity. What is a family today? Where are the indestructible bonds of the institution which gathers grandparents, parents, children, uncles, cousins and grandchildren?




The re shaping of sexual roles, the instability of marital ties, divorce and re-marriage all help to break up the family group. Children circulate between the various autonomous homes in contact with various adults who give them, as values, so many diverging opinions and attitudes that they become completely convinced that everything is relative.

The crisis in the traditional family model comes from factors such as the emancipation of women who no longer depend on the husband to maintain them, the lessening of paternal authority, the equality between persons, all of which confuses and undermines the old hierarchy of defined roles between grandparents, parents, mothers, children, uncles and aunts.

This fragmenting of the family group disorganises the concept of authority, the exercise of obedience, the old dominant patriarchy. The family is now a functional group exchanging affection and managing economic interests. In it, the specific duties of each one are no longer clear. The rituals of uniting and consolidating such as sharing meals, Sunday church attendance, family holidays, celebrations of birthdays, etc. all go up in smoke if there is no introduction of a new liturgy for bringing the family together.

What is a home today? A place to live in, where everyone acts according to their own personal interests. Instead of the family sitting around the table, there is a fridge providing food, in the place of the sitting room where all gather, each one has their own bedroom to take refuge in, where they can hide and find entertainment with electronic paraphernalia such as the TV and the internet, finding a virtual relationship in the place of sociability based on sharing.    

Solitude is no longer a retreat for acts of solidarity and cultural nurturing and becomes a shelter for solitary escape.

Another reason for the disintegration of the traditional family is the power exercised by the television empire. TV is the ”third parent who has a huge role in the bringing up of children and adolescents. It displaces the nucleus of the family from its relation of sharing (conversations around the table, on the porch, the road or the garden, board and card games, music recitals in an improvised theatre etc.) by the gathering everyone around the TV screen.

The real family gives in to the virtual family. In many families there no juxtaposition, there is a TV set in every bedroom, breaking up relationships and making dialogue difficult.

Neo liberal democracy “ based on the acquisition of material goods which allow everyone to evaluate their own freedom according to their proximity or distance from the market “ imposes itself on the family through the TV, annulling the rituals founded on affection and on the complicity of blood ties.

Paternal authority no longer rules in decisions as to what is good or not for the children on the TV. Family discussion does not exist. Each one decides on the time and the content for their voluntary subjection to TV in detriment of family conversation, reading, prayer, entertainment, physical exercise or social development (visiting, going to the club, library, theatre etc.)

Today™s families tend to ignore their relatives, they are not interested in them, however they show great appreciation for their new ”relatives to whom, almost daily, their doors and hearts are open: William Bonner and Fatima Bernardes, Hebe Camargo and Faustáo, Luciano Huck and Luciana Gimenez, Datena and Boris Casoy[1] <#_ftn1> , and the whole Pleiades of heroes and heroines from soap operas, children™s programmes and cartoons.

These new uncles and aunts have the advantage of always being fun and well mannered, they do not try to borrow money, do not drink our drinks nor eat our food, they do not take up any space, do not tell us about their ills, they always look healthy and smiling, they are rich and famous. As the reality is ever more virtual we can even perceive their scent¦

Freud would feel confused if he were to return today. We no longer have a need to ”kill our father or to ”hate our brother. All that is needed is to dial a number which fatally will exclude a ”brother or switch the channel every time that boring man or woman appear on the screen.

Every night millions of TV viewers are unselfishly nourished by this entertainment medley “ soap operas, humorous and sports programmes, etc. “ seasoned with everything which is missing in real life: the great love affair, emotion, challenge, ideals, beauty, the wheel of fortune¦

The vessel travels on. Life continues, inside the TV. On the outside, removed from the role of protagonists or historical subjects, we accept being mere spectators urged to consume. Or better, to disappear together, allowing virtual idols to live for us.

[1] <#_ftnref1>  All TV personalities, news readers, talk show hosts etc. etc.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of ”A arte de semear estrelas (The Art of Sowing Stars), (Rocco) http://www.freibetto.org

He is a Brazilian Dominican with an international reputation as a liberation theologian.

Within Brazil he is equally famous as a writer, with over 52 books to his name. In 1985 he won Brazil™s most important literary prize, the Jabuti, and was elected Intellectual of the Year by the members of the Brazilian Writers™ Union.

Frei Betto has always been active in Brazilian social movements, and has been an adviser to the Church™s ministry to workers in Sáo Paulo™s industrial belt, to the Church base communities, and to the Landless Rural Workers™ Movement (MST).

In 2003-2004, he was Special Adviser to President Lula and Coordinator of Social Mobilisation for the Brazilian Government™s Zero Hunger programme.


Frei Betto*

This year my vote for President of the Republic will go to the candidate who intends to implement the ever promised, but never instituted, agrarian reform, tax reform, political reform and judiciary reform and who will promise that social welfare and labour reforms will not be used as a decoy to penalise workers and pensioners even more by benefitting big business.

I shall vote for those who are prepared to revolutionise health and education. It is shameful that both the public education and health systems have been scrapped. Of the 190 million Brazilians only 30 million hold on with hope to the lifebuoy of private health plans. The rest are treated as second class citizens, self-denying penitents in hospital queues who are obliged to purchase medicines burdened with heavy taxes of approximately 39%.

According to the MEC (Ministry for Education and Culture), there are 4.1 million Brazilians between the ages of 4 and 17 not enrolled in school and have thus virtually entered the world of crime. Our teachers are badly paid, the teaching of computer skills to students is a painful path to be followed and the four-hour school day is the gloss which covers the country with semi illiterates.

I shall vote for the candidate who is prepared to rigourously control carbon gas emissions in industry, pastureland and areas of environmental preservation like Amazonia. We cannot allow agro business to cut down forests, contaminate rivers and permit the use of manual labour unprotected by labour laws or in conditions of slavery.

I will vote for those who commit to surpassing the compensatory nature of the Bolsa Familia (Family Food Hamper) and to recovering the emancipatory Zero Hunger programme thus helping families who survive at the government™s expense to find a way out and to generate their own income.

I shall vote for the candidate who is prepared to change the existing economic policy which in 2008 channeled R$282 billion to pay off the internal and external debt but only R$44.5 billion towards health. In terms of percentages, 30% of the budget was destined to the financial market and only 5% to health, 3% to education and 12% to the entire social area.

I shall vote for the candidate who is contrary to the Central Bank™s autonomy, for economy is not a sphere divorced from politics or from the social process. I vote for the reduction of interest rates, for exemptions for the basic food allowance and for medicines, for a realistic increase in the minimum salary and a reduction to 40 hours in the weekly work day.

I vote for the legalisation and preservation of territories of indigenous peoples, of quilombolas[1] <#_ftn1> and riverine peoples in permanent dialogue with the social movements and I reject any attempt to criminalise these. I vote for initiatives in the economy of solidarity and fair trade and for the constitutional definition for the maximum limit for rural properties.

I vote for the candidate who is convinced that it is necessary to reduce energy tariffs for family consumption and for mobile phone use, who is prepared to give priority to alternative sources of energy such as solar, aeolian, oceanic, from rubbish waste etc. and who is against the construction of thermo electric and hydroelectric plants which harm the environment.

I vote for the candidate who gives priority to quality public transport, with accessible and subsidised prices, who demands the visible identification of generic foodstuffs offered for consumption, forbids the participation and use of children in advertising and vehemently condemns child labour.

I shall vote for the candidate who is determined to install a Truth Commission in order to open the archives of the Armed Forces concerning the period of the dictatorship, to investigate the crimes committed in the name of the State and to reveal the whereabouts of persons who disappeared.

I vote for those who will pursue current foreign policy which strengthens the sovereignty and independence of Brazil, diversifies its commercial relations, supports all forms of Latin American and Caribbean integration without the presence of the USA and the right for our country to have  a seat in the UN Security Council, rejects the USA™s criminal blockade against Cuba and the installation of North American military bases in Latin America.  

I vote, especially, for whoever presents a programme which is convincing towards a significant reduction of Brazil™s greatest blight: social inequality.

This is my vote.

Now I must find the right candidate.

Dieser Beitrag wurde am Montag, 07. Juni 2010 um 22:59 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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