Feed the good

Not that I did not know it, since the subject affected me personally in such a profound way, but I wasn’t really “aware” of it until I read about it on Wednesday morning in Thomas Friedman’s column in The New York Times: “In 2007, Apple came out with the iPhone, beginning the smartphone/ apps revolution; in late 2006 Facebook opened its doors to anyone, not just college and high school students, and took off like a rocket; Google came out with the Android operating system in 2007; […] Amazon came out with the Kindle in 2007.” As I have affirmed so many times, KBR, the publishing company I started in Brazil in 2008, was based upon the Kindle to such an extent that is was originally named “KindleBookBr,” until Amazon asked us to change it. Just for the record, the “K” in “KBR” still accounts for our beloved “Kindle,” no need to explain the “BR.”

It’s not difficult to figure out how this technological surge has affected other people, particularly in the U.S., where all these “novelties” were created, encouraged and adopted in a heartbeat. I remember the debate after Obama’s first election in 2008, about whether or not to “allow” him to keep his Blackberry as president. Can anyone imagine such a discussion today?

Blackberries are long gone, and technology is still considered an enemy of sorts in third-world countries, such as Brazil (sorry, folks), where this very week WhatsApp was blocked by a judge for 72 hours, because the company refused to deliver information it didn’t even have access to. I wasn’t surprised to discover that this particular judge, from a small town in the Northeast — come on, it’s your cue to jump down my throat and call me a bigot — is not a WhatsApp user and is actually “opposed” to technology, oops, this was actually the judge who liberated  WhatsApp… after 24 hours of blockage. At any rate.

There’s no disputing the fact that the technological revolution has changed our lives profoundly, in terms of the way we communicate. In the 1960’s, the famous “revolutionary years,” it was actually necessary to go to a demonstration in person in order to shout a couple of slogans against the status quo. What a drag! As you can imagine, there was no such concept as “virtual” presence back then, so I’ll risk saying that, in fact, this is the significant unnamed change behind this “very unique” electoral season: furious networking. Including “The Donald’s” controversial tweeting.

Understandably, this is not happening only in the U.S. In Brazil, for example, social networks have played a crucial role in the present political crisis, although the ultimate culprit in the current impeachment process was in fact… a wiretapped phone call, as in the good old days. Still, what amazes me is how these social networks have allowed us a fresh look, not only into people’s opinions, but into their very souls, or consciousness. Et voilà, we could finally understand (at least I could) the dirty ideological game that has kept us hostages for such a long time, without exposing itself clearly until recently.

In Brazil today, there’s no doubt as to how the so-called left has turned itself into a corruption scheme in order to actually rob the people, with obvious detrimental consequences for the poor and the destitute, despite the P.T. party’s proselytism to the contrary. To lighten the effect of these affirmations, let me share with you a bit of the highly efficient Brazilian humor, which is strong enough to defy the oppressive weight of the situation: “This government has taken billions out of poverty. And deposited them in secret offshore accounts.” (Oh my, I hope this works properly in English, since there’s nothing worse than having to explain a joke, right? Culture clash at its best.)

Nevertheless, the left won’t let go easily. They are so convinced that in fact they are the righteous ones — in Portuguese, “donos da verdade,” that is, “owners of the truth” — to the point of describing themselves instead as “owners of the good.” Or so believes a friend of mine, an enthusiastic Bernie supporter who, in response to my recent “coming out of the conservative closet,” has defined “liberal” as “a political theory founded on the natural goodness of humans and the autonomy of the individual, and favoring civil and political liberties” [emphasis mine].

I wonder where he got that from, because, in all honesty, I refused to google it. I’m so tired of confronting myself with such absurdities. Let’s face it: Rousseau himself (The Social Contract, 1762) already knew there was no such thing as “human goodness,” a natural trait that “becomes corrupted by the pernicious influence of human society and institutions.” Which, I suppose, must include all of our (failed) ideologies.

Curiously enough, as I was researching an efficient American idiom to describe this “owners of the good” concept, I came across a dog food commercial with the following slogan: “Feed the good.” Meaning, of course, that we can, indeed, emphasize the good-natured side of our personalities under very special circumstances — which would include a stray dog about to be run over by a car, but certainly not any kind of radical political discussion. This does not entitle the leftists (oops, “liberals”) — or the rightists, for that matter — to declare themselves the ultimate do-gooders, even if they firmly believe they are, which should be defined as “delusion.”

At any rate, now that we know Donald Trump will indeed be the next Republican nominee, I will risk a step further into other people’s hatred — once a bigot, always a bigot — and tell you what I believe is behind this “movement,” which important newspapers describe as constituted by misogynists, mostly white men, undereducated blue-collar workers. It is a “popular revolution” of sorts, a reaction to a very typical human attribute that makes us ruin every good thing we touch, pardon my pessimism; which encourages us to go far enough in every progressive direction as to eventually jeopardize its gains, without exception.

The civilization pendulum has swung, and has now reached its apex; we are all excruciatingly tired of this extreme way of thinking (and acting out!), which has found its insidious way into our daily lives, to the point of making them utterly unbearable. Its practitioners carry no interest in the common good; they only care about their own self-fulfilling goals, usually at everybody else’s expense, no matter the cost. This must stop at some point. And I’m reasonably sure you know what I’m talking about.

I sincerely hope we’re approaching the moment when we’ll finally bid adieu to these Last Day owners of human truth and human good. In Brazil, I know we are. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

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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