Genivaldo case: education through stone and the signs that we are bad

I’ve been asked for an opinion on the Genivaldo case, killed in an improvised gas chamber in the van of a Federal Highway Policy in Sergipe. I feel slightly outraged. After all, this is one of those cases that doesn’t allow for unusual angles or great literary dribbles. The hypothesis that I have any opinion on the matter other than the obvious one is unthinkable.

The obvious opinion, just to be clear, is that the police treated a human being as if he were an insect worthy of a fumigator. What led them to act this way I do not know, nor do I feel like speculating. It is very tiring to make these incursions imagined by the minds and hearts of others, in order to always find the same story of pain, bitterness, resentment and belief in “education through trauma”.

João Cabral de Melo Neto preferred “education through stone”. Whatever. I say it’s for the trauma to avoid being accused of plagiarism, but the idea is the same. It is a strategy engraved in the hearts and minds of people who believe that only suffering can teach someone a positive value. This is the idea contained in all violence used as a corrective. Including, there, the improvised gas chamber of the police that denigrated the reputation of the corporation.

The image of the smoky van is the one that is in vogue at the moment, but we see trauma education practiced all around us. From cursing to flogging in the public square, from cutting speech to the corrupted hermeneutics of the Judiciary, the objective of education through trauma/stone is to humiliate and, thus, mark in the spirit of the other an unforgettable pain that, in theory, will prevent him from repeating the mistake. .

Those who defend education through trauma, however, ignore the incredible tenacity of human stupidity, which has never seen, does not see and will never see enough convincing force in trauma to make a man bad become good. The truth is that men, especially bad men, assimilate traumas and continue through this life showing off those that are useful to them and discarding those that they consider minimally harmful to the good images they have of themselves.


What still causes me some strangeness is the fascination and ease with which many people wallow in the dog-world. In search, I suppose, for definitive proof that we are bad, hopelessly bad, and that it is therefore necessary to create a (generally utopian) system to protect us from the most disgusting individuals of the species. There are people who take pleasure in witnessing so much evil – so that they may not feel so alone.

Week after week, and not just in the police pages, the signs are there and seem to reinforce the inescapable nihilistic conclusion that we are bad. Murder, rape, war, collusion, arbitrariness, lying, envy and hatred surround us in the news, often leaving no room for any kind of hope. Now, how can we talk about hope when we see police officers executing another human being, in a grotesque spectacle filmed by the omnipresent Cowardly Cameraman?

The signs that we are bad are clear and abundant. They are in electoral polls, in the quotation marks of the authorities, in the movements of the political board, in clashes between celebrities, in the impersonation of the adversary, in the summary judgment and in the real and metaphorical execution of the enemy. They are in the comment boxes, in WhatsApp groups, in meeting rooms and even in the mouths of the characters of that funny series, full of disgusting characters, that you enjoy on the cold and rainy night “just to unwind”.

But there are signs that we are good. But these signs require mining, if not imagination. They even require eyes with the super power to amplify a kindness beyond the banal, giving it the dimension that is rightfully its own: that of a miracle. They require generosity and care. After all, when we come across a sign of kindness, we know that we are facing something rare and fragile. The signs that we are good are weak, even discreet. And they always prefer silence to shouting, the barely noticeable smile to vulgar indignation.

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