George Orwell was writing, in 1943/4, a booklet that would not be published soon. In a fable he named Animal Farm (and which would be translated into Portuguese as The Triumph of the Pigs), tells how the animals on a farm, disgusted with the treatment received from the owner, decide to expel him.
Led by the pigs, for a while everything on the farm works well: they work for everyone and everyone is treated fairly. But, over time, the pigs, who take the lead, end up benefiting themselves and having far more advantages than others in everything. «All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others», becomes the farm's slogan.
Designed to portray what Orwell considered to be the worst of the Soviet revolution, this story would eventually become one of the best known and most cited books on politics of the XNUMXth century and endures, in the History of Literature, as a classic.
It also lasts as a metaphor for what happens in a large number of political regimes, or that supports ideologies that some consider to be the top of the range of this type of activity and that, as a rule, tend towards extremism and to be considered revolutionary .
They defend, they say, the most unprotected, those who need greater social support, greater respect, greater dignity. They argue, rave and rally supporters, usually those unhappy with the more moderate within democracies.
Demagogic and populist, they focus the attention of some fringes of the people, who, using their dignified common sense, see them as vigilantes against the corrupt and political deceivers.
Portugal is no exception. We currently live with some political forces that are an example of this: some fiercely defend the rights of minorities (racial, immigrants, refugees, LGBTI+ community); of the workers who can in no way be fired by the “bunch of bosses”, who only exist to exploit them; of those harmed by the immense crisis generated by COVID-19.
On the other hand, they throw themselves against subsidy-dependents, against those who came from distant countries to steal the work places of nationals and other minorities; advocate radical measures to punish criminals, such as chemical castration and the like.
Interestingly, they are also fervent defenders of those harmed by the immense crisis generated by COVID-19. Everyone is concerned with causes and things, with themes and current affairs, with debates and verbiage, which is always abundant, rhetorical, inflamed.
And they attack each other, with gestures and phrases that only make them a little more frugal: «It was fine in Guinea» … «You're going to pay the price of “a peanut”… And so many, so many other “depressing little treasures” like the Stinky Cats would say.
But where is the revolution really in everything they propose? At where?
Pope Francis, in a documentary directed by well-known filmmaker Wim Wenders (titled Pope Francis: A Man of His Word, 2018), returning to what inspires him since the moment he chose Francis for his papal name (the name of the Saint of Assisi who lived in poverty and alongside the poor, defending justice, nature, equality), speaks of a revolution that is indispensable, which is “the revolution”: to be a little more brothers to one another and also a little poorer in everything.
This act of finding a brother in the other, of being Brothers All – All Brothers (as he tells us in his last Encyclical) is the only real revolution we need and which, in these political movements, we do not see.
In them, we see what Francisco defines as a "struggle of interests that pits us all against everyone, where winning becomes synonymous with destroying" (Brothers All, 16) and that prevents us from “raising our heads to recognize our neighbors or standing next to someone who is lying on the road”.
Recognize your neighbor, say Christians. Therefore, I ask: in these extremisms, what is the place of the poor? And what is the place of dialogue, of listening? What is the place of true hope in building a better future?
Again I quote the Pope (Brothers All, 48): «Sitting down to listen to the other, characteristic of a human encounter, is a paradigm of a receptive attitude, of someone who overcomes narcissism and welcomes the other, pays attention to him, gives him a place in his own circle. But «the world of today, for the most part, is a deaf world (…). Sometimes the speed of the modern world, the frenzy prevents us from listening well to what others say. When he is in the middle of his dialogue, we have already interrupted him and we want to reply when he has not finished speaking. We must not lose the ability to listen».
St. Francis of Assisi “heard the voice of God, he heard the voice of the poor, he heard the voice of the sick, he listened to the voice of nature. And he turned it all into a way of life».
Fratelli tutti? Only a few? Or some more than others? Bring home revolutionaries…. It is truly what the protagonists of these movements and their followers are, who do not look to the essentials, which, as in Animal Farm of George Orwell, quickly forget that we are all born with equal rights and an equal need for respect. And that, in diversity, is the greatest richness.
They forget that mercy is our true and ultimate human heritage: "Be merciful as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36). And that, if only on the moon there is no wind, within each one of us there is, if we wish, an infinite capacity for love, the total, true love, which defines us as human and which we can, we must transform into a style of life.
Author Father Miguel Neto is director of the Information and Pastoral Ministry of Tourism of the Diocese of Algarve, as well as parish priest of Tavira
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