A Fake Peace is No Peace at All

On a terrible September morning, back in 2001, I was watching TV in the gym’s locker room in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when we heard the news that some undefined accident had happened.

“Did a plane just crash?” asked a preoccupied friend, whose husband was in the U.S. on a business trip.

Panic was instantaneous. I rushed home, opened the door, dropped the groceries on the living room floor and told my mom: “Something has happened, turn on the TV.”

We were able to watch it live when the second plane hit. “Oh my God. Oh my God,” was all I could utter, in incredulity, before bursting into tears. The world as we knew it had come to an end.

In the hours that followed, our private lives were deeply affected. My mother’s retirement money — funds originally inherited from my father — was heavily invested in a bank stock that plummeted in a matter of minutes. Our assets were gone. We didn’t know what to do. There was no clear future ahead, and I don’t mean only the economy. Stupid.

Today, terrorism and the economy are again entangled in the same week of panic-mongering news, okay, terrorism was not an issue until last night. Except it was. The immigration wave that brought with it simultaneous fears of terrorism and of competition over wages and jobs was the true motivation underneath the Brexit movement, they say.

“Did the terrorist attack in Istanbul happen yesterday? Or the day before?” I asked Alan, while preparing to write this chronicle.

You must agree, my friends: It’s been a challenge for a regular person to follow the news these days, when the world appears to have suddenly turned upside down.

I was in favor of “Leave,” I must confess. I don’t even know why, I just felt the need for a change. And despite the initial shock of “winning” — much like other “Brexiters” I did not expect a favorable result — I now can envision my doubtful self in a much more positive, coherent light.

In my native Brazil, I’ve been witnessing a peculiar phenomenon, a mental divide among some members of the intelligentsia, who, as traditional leftists, could not bear the political corruption and absurdities that have swept the country: Although they dared to oppose the ousted government due to a logical lack of options, they still keep their hopes up for a failing leftist agenda when it comes to international affairs.

This is not my case. Since I moved to the U. S., I’ve been hit by a conservative wave that threatened to drown me in an ocean of impossibilities, concerning what’s best for my future. And, I dare say, for the future of mankind.


Of course I ignore what’s best for mankind, are you kidding me?

My husband, I need to admit, has been obsessing over Hillary Clinton’s (supposed) criminal past, and all I can do is cope with it: “Alan, stop sending me all these articles. I can’t read them; I need to start working. It’s far past noon already!”

On the other hand, I’m now far beyond any pressure he might exert, ready to reach my own conclusions, researching on my own and capable of acting almost like an “adult” in the big, bad world. Which, of course, does not make me a “pundit,” only an average normal person, who can “feel the mood,” catch the wave and identify with what is happening — mostly through feeling, not knowledge.

Is it enough? Certainly not. On the other hand, analysts and specialists seem to be quite lost within the situation, frankly, stuck to their illusions of (where the) power (truly is). It is curious how, in this world where “diversity” is king (or queen?) when it comes to gender and immigration policies, the people’s urge to preserve their own diverse traits, which make them unique, typical inhabitants of their unique countries, is being despised and ignored. I miss the old times, when, flying to Europe on vacation, we would travel through very different cultures in a few days, a rich diversity the alleged “one-world concept” is trying to diminish, or at least control. We are getting uniformed, standardized. Tedious.

Why the double standard? I keep asking myself. Why, in a world that emphasizes freedom, are some people less free to choose, to make decisions concerning their own private lives? Forced to comply with more regulations than they can possibly digest or understand?

It sounds like a self-fulfilling hell. It’s just too much for a simple foreign woman (ouch, prejudice), too much even for a writer who practices her craft outside of the dominant “progressive” tide — a painful position wherever the stakes are, plus the personal internal pressure of needing to be “right.”

At any rate, no matter what the pundits say, the world has entered a time of change, and it’s crucial to remain calm and give facts a chance, because, let’s face it, our anxiety will not change a thing. Moreover, in a world where everyone is entitled to their own opinion, “everyone” must not be limited to a percentage of the whole — those who can succeed in being louder than others. The silent majority will have their say, and they had already started, yes, those who have been discriminated on grounds of their despicable “bigotry,” “isolationism,” “keep-your-sexism.” Who came up with these concepts and made them rule, anyway?

Every time the standards of a small group are ruling over the lives of the many, there will be trouble. Minorities need to be protected. Refugees need to be accepted. Nevertheless, what these “categories on the move” are seeking is a previously established set of privileges and a quality of life that will ultimately disappear, if the integration capacity of the places and cultures they are moving into is overtaxed. They will not get what they’re looking for, and also in this instance, the rule should be “moderation.” This, by the way, is what I expect as the ultimate outcome for Brexit: more moderation and fewer demands.

I have a confession to make: What truly called my attention before the British referendum was an alert I read on Twitter, in which a woman denounced a movement to adopt Sharia Law in Europe. This is what made me truly panic, I admit, less than 140 decisive characters, motivating my choice about what side to “support.”

As to the market’s panic, it has started to calm down, much like what happened back in 2001. After the dust settled, there was a period of growth, and my mother’s stocks not only recovered, but exceeded their prior value. However, the notion of a dangerous world has been on the rise since 9/11 attacks, and something must be done about it.

I’m not a believer in a borderless world. I do not wish to be invaded in my own home, and this is not a crime, just a wish, based on common sense. I’m not a believer in a strongly centered European power that supersedes individual countries as a condition for peace and prosperity. If not for other reasons, simply because it’s a false premise. As recently seen, given the option to keep their private space intact, that’s exactly what people will opt for. Regarding our individual boundaries and general well-being, “act local, think global” should be interpreted as “keep your physical reality safe, while talking online to everybody else.” A borderless world should limit itself to a materialized “collective consciousness” symbolized by the internet — an exchange of information and knowledge that is beneficial to an overall progress — while preserving the sense of a factual, much-needed privacy.

Cameron’s choice to offer a referendum to the British people was widely interpreted as a “faux pas,” since the final result has jeopardized his own personal goals. But despite his political maneuvers, history had its own surprising plans. What I see is that the idea of peace tied to a borderless world is actually a “faux pax,” pardon my pun. Peace must come from within. It will never be imposed in the long run, much less if it forces us into a situation born from detached theoretical minds, no matter their theoretical good intentions, distanced from the reality of the simple, overly despised common daily lives of real, overly despised common folks.

People don’t like it. Period. Maybe the idea of listening to the people is not so bad, after all. After the initial shock, “mind your own business,” “keep your family safe,” and “the majority rules” might not sound as silly and wrong as the “leaders of the modern world” want us to believe. At the end of the day, it might work better for everyone, who knows?

Paraphrasing Queen Elizabeth, in Northern Ireland, this week: We may be quiet, but “we’re still alive.”


About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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