On the Eve of the Cup

Well, it is not quite June 11, the eve of World Cup 2014.

But as I am going to Brazil in the next few days, it is the eve of my participation.  I feel lucky that I have official game tickets bought at the official price.  I received a proposal just now from a lady in Sao Paulo offering me a Category 1 ticket to the semi-final in Belo Horizonte.  She was asking 8000 reais or about 10 times the official price.  Good luck! Anyhow, I am looking forward to 4 excellent games and maybe even a chance to get a ticket to a round of 16 or semi-final game at a decent price.  I will be spending most of the month of June in BH, my home town.  It is the place where I grew up, where I married, where my children were born and if I die there, I hope to be buried in Bonfim.  (I used to live next door.)

So, yes, I am optimistic about the Cup and think things will go quite well.  Of course, I expect the usual hassle in arriving and leaving the stadium, the pushing and shoving, the “rojoes” and the occasional fights and pick pockets.  There is nothing new under the sun.

It has been interesting to read all the negative material about the upcoming Cup.  There are some who would like the Cup to fail so that the Olympics can be snatched away from Rio.  Is Chicago ready to step in?  More so than Rio, but it will still be able to pull things off at least at a level somewhat better than the minor Pan American games.

I think the more important point that both the Cup and the Olympics bring to the fore is how people project the future.  In Brazil, as I have said many times, we oscillate between deep pessimism and extreme optimism and never really stop at a happy medium.  Right now, with the elections coming up, everything is partisan.  This adds an extra amount of extremism to the way people express themselves.  It is anti-Dilma/Lula and PT or anti opposition whether that be Aecio or Campos or Marina with still another group which I find the most dangerous and negative, i.e. anti politics where disillusion results in the cry for authoritarian solutions.  We have been down that path and we know that it does not lead to good things.

I have a friend who alleges that Brazil has entered a practically irreversible state of decline without ever having reached an apogee or high point.  He cites as examples nefarious effects of television with the popularity of the Big Brother series now in, what, its 15th year, the excessive focus on sex in sectors, the corruption and inefficiency of the Brazilian state.  Of course, sensible people have railed against TV and the decline of morals for ages but to little effect.  Still, I don’t think it means we are on the way to hell in hand basket.  Certainly, corruption is a major concern and has to be addressed with a better functioning legal system and policing.  I think it is heartening that, for the first time, high-level political leaders, even those of the party in power, are now sitting in jail.  This is a major change that needs to be recognized.  It does not solve the issue but it is progress.

Each election brings to the forefront new groups and new demands.  The rigid and antiquated political structure, especially the voting system, help perpetuate the status quo.  Unfortunately, the foxes (members of Congress) are in charge of the chicken house.  Things will only change slowly but the Internet, social media, and social movements are gradually putting a structure in place that lead to positive change.

Give us another 100 years of so.  That is not so long; maybe only 5 generations.  Paciencia!!!


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