A Citizen called Solidarity*

On August 9, 1997, Betinho, from Bocaiúva, Minas Gerais state, returned to the Spiritual World. I believe that one of the main contributions of the late sociologist was the mobilization of Solidarity throughout Brazil. Reason why he founded the IBASE (Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analyses) in 1981.

He was deservedly awarded the following prize in the Plenary Room of the Legion of Good Will’s ParlaMundi, in Brasília/DF, at the end of 1996: The Order of Merit of Ecumenical Fraternity, in the Solidarity category.

Without Solidarity, society succumbs to selfishness. The most tragic mistake is the age-old disrespect for the sacred human being, God’s Capital.

In March 1985, in the São Paulo newspaper Diário Popular, journalist Anderson França commented: “The economic crisis that affects the world is a true pest and, in this sense, the gap between the wealthy and poor countries will increase until the year 2000, victimizing the more than 600 million people who will live below poverty level. This dire warning is from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, which recently analyzed current economic growth trends around the world. Actually, poverty in developing countries is and will be the result of international disparities, which encompass the high cost of loans and debt payment crises. In other words, the wealthy countries will continue to have a per capita income at least 200 times higher than the poor countries. To further exemplify the degree of this barbarity, the amount of wheat destined by the United States to manufacture animal rations would easily staunch hunger on the African continent in one fell swoop...”

“The Creature”

It is worth recalling a vehement protest made by the great poet Manuel Bandeira (1886-1968) against Humanity’s lack of humanity, which continues to threaten countless people:

"Yesterday I saw a creature
in the filthy courtyard
scavenging food from garbage piles.

Whenever something was found,
it was not screened or smelled:
It was voraciously swallowed.

The animal was not a dog,
neither a cat it was,
or a rat.

That creature, Good Heavens, was a man."

For this reason, the fight against hunger, for which the illustrious professor Herbert de Souza (1935-1997) became a powerful advocate, naturally requires constant effort.

Without this sense of Brotherhood that is manifested in the solidary action, of which Jesus, the Ecumenical Christ, is luminous example, what problems will be effectively appeased despite the power of technological progress?

As I wrote in my article “Independence”, published by the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo on September 7, 1986, in a time when production expectations become outdated due to the technology advances, hunger really is a scandal! Why?! Because of a lack of Love in people’s Souls, resulting in the extolling of the atrocious “ism” of the ego.

The brother of the never forgotten cartoonist Henfil (1944-1988) from Ribeirão das Neves (Minas Gerais state)—who, by the way, sent me his book called O Diário de um Cucaracha with a funny illustrated inscription—knew how to see through the lens of social truth the meaning of the following quotation from Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790): “Where there is hunger, law is not regarded (...)”.

That is, one day anything can happen. People are a permanent surprise.

Speak, Betinho!

Divine Providence gives rise to men of worth in all nations and in all times, so that people’s conscience does not fall asleep and that from the habit of reflection arise humanitarian actions with extensive results. This is why I end this simple homage by repeating this significant warning given by the immortal Citizen of Solidarity: “Hunger is exclusion. Exclusion from land, income, employment, wages, education, the economy, life and citizenship. When a person comes to a point of not having anything to eat, it is because everything else has already been denied to him or her. It is a type of modern restraint or exile. Death in life. And exile from Earth. (...) We have made true miracles of development. One of the largest GDPs in the world embraced with poverty is the most dreadful kind of misery. (...) two worlds in the same country, in the same city; very close by geography yet infinitely far from each other in terms of humanity experience”.

No one could have said it better. Congratulations, Betinho, wherever you may be! And we know you are in a good place and continue alive, because the dead do not die.

*A Citizen called Solidarity – Published in the book Chronicles and Interviews by Paiva Netto (Elevação Publishing House – year 2000) and in the Good Will Magazine issue 204, August 2005.

José de Paiva Netto is a writer, journalist, radio broadcaster, composer, and poet. He is the President of the Legion of Good Will (LGW), effective member of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and of the Brazilian International Press Association (ABI-Inter). Affiliated to the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Union of Professional Journalists of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Writers of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Radio Broadcasters of Rio de Janeiro, and the Brazilian Union of Composers (UBC). He is also a member of the Academy of Letters of Central Brazil. He is an author of international reference in the concept and defense of the cause of Ecumenical Citizenship and Spirituality which, according to him, constitute “the cradle of the most generous values that are born of the Soul, the dwelling of the emotions and of the reasoning enlightened by intuition, the atmosphere that embraces everything that transcends the ordinary field of matter and comes from the elevated human sensitivity, such as Truth, Justice, Mercy, Ethics, Honesty, Generosity, and Fraternal Love.”