Carnaval is over. The “real” new year is finally beginning. And tomorrow, I will be leaving, returning to my country.
Like most gringos, I originally came to Brazil for the parties, the beaches, and the girls. Little did I know that I would spend the majority of the next four years within your borders. I would learn a lot about your culture, your language, your customs, and by the end of this year, I will marry one of your girls.
It’s no secret that there are big problems in Brazil. There’s a political crisis, an economic crisis, constant safety concerns, huge income inequality, and now with the outbreak of Zika, apparently a health crisis.
Over the years, I have met many Brazilians who have asked me, “Why?” Why is Brazil so screwed up? Why are countries in Europe and North America so prosperous and safe while Brazil continues to go through the same cycles of growth and collapse over and over again?
In the past, I’ve had theoretical conversations about systems of government, colonial histories, economic policies, and so on. These are clearly some valid explanations for the problems. But lately, I’ve come to another conclusion. A conclusion that many people would probably find offensive, but upon mentioning it to a few of my Brazilian friends, they urged me to write about it and share it.
So here it is:
It’s you. You are the problem.
Yes, you reading this, you are the problem. I’m sure you don’t mean to be, but you are actively participating in the problem and perpetuating it. Every day.
Because it’s not just about Dilma or PT. It’s not the banks or the construction companies or Petrobras or even the crappy Real.
It is the culture. It is the beliefs and mindsets that form the foundation of how the Brazilian people choose to think about their lives and their country.
The problem is what you and everyone around you has decided to accept as OK, even when nothing about it is OK.
Imagine you are riding in the car with your friend late one night. Your friend is driving down a dark street with nobody on it. He has been drinking and…