Along the Highway (2)
Coming in from the North, after a long and steep climb, the first building you’ll see to your right is a truck stop with gas station and restaurant. It is located at the intersection of interstate highway BR-101 and state highway BA-290 (our road to the beach). This truck stop is also a meeting point for workers looking for a day job. They gather here around 4 AM and hope to be picked up by a farmer in need of a pair of hands in one of his plantations (mainly coffee, bananas, watermelons and sugar cane). Some even spend the night here (see extra).
As I was walking around the truck stop this morning and talking to some of the men, I couldn’t help but think how privileged people are in the northern hemisphere or in more developed countries. Their biggest privilege is, I believe, not material wealth, access to health services and solid education, but the luxury of consciousness. Many Europeans who visit Brazil are scandalized by the lack of environmental consciousness, by safety conditions on streets and roads, by poor administration, etc. “Don’t they see it? It would be so easy to fix this!” they say. What they don’t see is that, in order to improve living conditions in a country like Brazil, people would need to think beyond their immediate needs, see the big picture, and understand that everything is connected.
Brazil, as many other countries in the New World, was colonialized with the sole purpose of extracting its riches. This continued when Brazil declared its independence from Portugal. Now we had a national oligarchy that continued to amount incredible wealth by exploring slaves and the poor. Later came European and North-American multinationals that did (and continue to do) the same thing. The message they send to the Brazilian people is that money is the highest good. If you can get your hands on it, grab it – no matter at what cost (to others, the environment, public services or whatever). That is why money can buy you everything – from a beautiful house equipped with a beautiful wife to impunity: If you offer money, someone will take it.
Is there a way to change that? Is there a way how a country like Switzerland with an extremely high level of consciousness in diverse areas (but that allows a company like Nestlé to continue its devastating policy of violating basic human rights all over the world – all they have to do is offer a little money to someone who will take it) could help other countries to develop the kind of consciousness our world needs?
One tiny contribution might be using the pictures of a Swiss photographer to show the Brazilian people the beauty hidden in their lives driven by the money they don't have.
(Today's leftover shows a house opposite the truck stop. Picture taken a little later, when the sun was already up.)