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Differences and Misconceptions - Transience Divine
September 8th, 2008
05:45 pm


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Differences and Misconceptions
Everything is a little different here. Chocolate tastes different (at least the grocery store impulse-buy stuff). Tomato sauce tastes different. Bananas are big and savage, avocados are smooth, round, and light-green, and limes are sweet. Pot is totally different-- it comes brown and packed in chunks. Trash is a little container you have on the counter, and there are three trash days a week, but people still throw it in big piles on the street. Doing laundry usually involves a basin and a sponge.

And then there are paradigmatic differences. People here (at least in Pará) understand the world differently. Some viewpoints are enlightening, some curious, some based on claims I have no basis for judging, and some are simply different. But there are some that seem flat wrong. Certainly in this point in our relationship, I have hugely more to learn from Brazil than it does from me... but sometimes I can't help soapboxing. It may be just cultural differences, but these are big enough differences for me to see beyond. I've heard from quite different sources, so I suspect they're widespread.
"Brazil (and particularly the north) has the greatest share of natural resources in the world, so it's eventual success is natural."

This belief holds that Brazil's poverty is to be alleviated by cutting down the rainforest, and the resulting success ought to topple the unnatural economic rule of more urbanized south. Maybe in theory, but in practice, exploitable resources, especially poorly managed ones (and only Norway, to my knowledge, manages theirs well) are the surest path to a corrupt government and an impoverished populace. Resources are like shit to capitalist flies. Besides, exploiting resources is the worst way to make wealth today: its ineffective, damaging, and out-dated.

"Our combination of black, yellow, and white didn't work out in many ways, particularly for modern democracy and consideration for others."

Brazil has a vibrant culture, which draws remarkably well on its integrated European, Africa, and Indigenous backgrounds. But people look at the rampant two-faced populism in politics and the large-scale effects of each-for-his-own-clanism and blame their genes. It's time to wake up from history. Even if our culture and our genes make us, so do our choices, and I've seen every seed of a more enlightened deep-democracy growing here, in some of the most fertile soil in the world. Creating our culture is our full-time job, and sometimes its hard work, but it may be our sole god-given right and duty.

"The poor people here are very simple."

In my experience, no lack of education, wealth, or social status makes you less cognoscente of the complexities of being. Interestingly, it's easier to recognize an uneducated person in portuguese, because for every right way to do something, there are two wrong but colloquially conventional ways. Like substituting "a gente" (the people) in for "us", and then just using the third-person form. Or dropping the future tense, except by saying somebody "is going to do" something. But colloquialism doesn't beget simplicity, it's just the counterpart of elitism.

"Brazil might be moving in the right direction, but it will take a hundred years to cleanse the country of corruption and raise its populace out of abject poverty."

Says who? Whistle-blowing is approaching a tipping point here.
Brazil went from a military dictatorship to one of the most vibrant democracies in the world in 30 years. In another 30, its GDP will pass the US's. At the rate life-changing technology is being developed, and the rate at which Brazil is adopting it, I give it 20 years to rival Europe in mean standard of living.

"Jealousy is an important part of love."

I could write a book on the problems in Brazilian relationships. A classic Brazilian couple does everything together; the real couple does most, but the guy can hang out with his friends but will get mad if the girl does the same. Guys in Brazilian typically don't know how to cook; their mother cooks for them until their girlfriend takes over. Love is, apparently, wanting your partner to not have any fun without you there, and intentionally crippling yourself to ensure it. But Jealousy is just Fear's child from her first marriage to Desire. If Desire could dump her, why can't Love?

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:September 9th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)


A friend lives near Sao Paulo and describes Brazil as a very violent place.

Here's an interesting selection.. I wonder if you've heard of this where you are? He's apparently really upset by this and trying to find some way to get the government to punish owners. They are training pitbulls to kill - most use them for home protection, but apparently some of them also use them as murder weapons. There are apparently also a lot of accidents:

"On the other hand, people have Pitbullls that kills other people- almost
Everyday - today I read about a little girl murdered by one, and some days ago
saw a tv report on a father crying on the toys left from his 4 years old boy
murdered by a neighbor's Pitbull.

The owners of the dogs neither go to prision neither are fined - they simply
say the dogs "runned away, out of controll" "passed the gates"and its Ok."
[User Picture]
Date:September 10th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC)

Re: pitbulls

No, I haven't heard about that. Brazilians as a rule, are very worried about crime. I don't know yet if they're unnecessarily worried about it or not. Houses are invariably sealed by gates, people drive around everything if they have the money, there are self-appointed car-watchers on every street. Maybe it's all for good reason. Elsewhere, mugging means losing your money. Here, it you're unlucky, it means losing your life. Break-in's are certainly more common. I've been mostly ignoring it, but we'll see how that pays off.

I don't think the government should punish dog owners, simply because it's an ineffective approach to the problem. I do think it's sensible to think of living creatures as murder weapons, from bioterrist bacteria to unjustly-sent armies, and we should look at the source of the problem, not the weapon. But maybe the issue is with people training their dogs to kill, not necessarily what the dogs do as a result.
[User Picture]
Date:September 10th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)

Re: pitbulls

If I had a booming bass voice, I'd say "Watch your back, Jack!"

If the government doesn't punish dog owners, what incentive do they have to keep their dogs under control? It's not the dog's fault if they do what they were trained to do - but it's certainly the owners'! What is the effective approach to the problem, pray tell?

If you go out of your way to train a dog to kill, it seems you should be responsible for that dog's killing. If I built a robot and trained it to kill, and then I left the door to my mad scientist lab open and it wandered out and began slaughtering people, how could I not be responsible?
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