With the impeachment of Dilma, Brazil’s most recently elected president, her Vice-President, Michel Temer is now in control of the country. Every where I turn, especially in a Federal University, it seems that Brazilians are not content and do not want to recognize him as the president and would prefer he was removed from office as well. You find the words “Fora Temer” (roughly translated to “Out with Temer” or “Get out Temer”) written on signs, graffitied on walls and doors, on pamphlets plastered to schools, on mirrors, on buses. In fact, at gatherings of friends sometimes the chant will begin, or during a Carnaval celebration, or at an event.
The problem is, where you see these signs and hear these chants, you are getting one side of the story. Not everyone in Brazil likes this president, but not everyone wants him thrown out of office immediately. Not everyone believes that he created a “legal coup” of the government to have his president removed so that he could take over. It is a touchy subject and people seem to be very passionate about their dislike of the current president, if they dislike him. But, it also creates an environment where it is hard to seek out a different opinion. If everyone I meet despises him, then he should be bad, right? It isn’t that simple. Brazil is a huge and diverse country made up with people from various ethnicities and living in extremely different ecosystems, making their economies and their social ideologies varying. Just because I’m surrounded by 20 year olds that go to a federal university (which is free in Brazil) and they all say the same thing, doesn’t mean that their demographic speaks for the whole country. Yet, how does one go about finding out more information?
Information, unbiased, or even biased but equally accessible from multiple points-of-view seems to be hard to come by. This isn’t just a problem in Brazil, I think this is something that has always been happening world wide. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in her TedTalk “The Danger of a Single Story” tells it…it is the problem of that single story. Perhaps people of a specific view point want a specific thing because it benefits their generation in one way or another, but perhaps they want something because they’ve never thought about the reality of others or why those people may disagree. We are all beings serving our own interests, whether our interest be a more successful business, better education, a nicer pay check, or equality for all humanity…if we take part, it is because it is something that interests us in one way or another personally. Does my interest in green energy and recycling help protect the environment and preserve the world for future generations? I’d like to think so. Yet, those programs that I support still serve my interest to have a greener world, a more preserved world…they serve my opinion of what the best world looks like.
Are opinions allowed to be different? You tell me. When was the last time you sat across from someone who disagreed with you and had a real conversation with them? I’m not talking about the conversations we have where we sit down already decided that the other person is wrong. Not the conversations where every phrase is countered with “yes, but…”. Not the conversations where there is no compromise. I’m talking about a real conversation, where you listen, discuss, are open to actually hear their opinion and VALUE it. We don’t give enough value to people that think differently than we do. Differences make us stronger. They challenge us. They make us grow.
That is why I won’t be shouting “Fora Temer” anytime soon. I haven’t yet gathered enough information to form my own opinion, and I have a feeling if I sit down to talk to people from both sides, valuing both of their opinions and them as human beings, I’m going to have a hard time picking a side of Temer. Sure, I can disagree on some of his actions, his platform, and I can be frustrated, but if I try and see both sides then I have a feeling I wouldn’t disagree with every last thing he does as president.
**Update (July 5th, 2017), I just learned that as someone who is not a Brazilian citizen I do not have the right to protest and could be arrested if caught doing so**