He had returned from Mass, from a very harsh homily on pride (Lucas 18:9-14) , when I came across the news that Roberto Jefferson had been shot at by the police officers who were going to arrest him. By whose order?
Raimundo Notato. Alexandre de Moraes, of course. As happens on such occasions, the news had barely become fact and was already worthy of analysis. Or rather, judgments. Or rather, condemnations.
Some were quick to say that we were on the brink of a civil war. And I saw, with those beautiful eyes that the earth will one day eat, many people anxious for bloodshed. Others rushed to say that Roberto Jefferson was harming or benefiting Bolsonaro’s campaign. What else? Oh yes. Did someone say that Jefferson’s reaction was a kind of suicide by cop – the desperate act of a sick man who dreamed of going down in history as a martyr or something similar.
That’s the thing. People consume all these words, associating them with those who say them, and begin to form a mental image of what happened. Even if the most important variables remain inaccessible. As we live in a superficial and Manichean age, we immediately link Roberto Jefferson to the image of a villain or hero. From a Joker or a… What is the name of Clint Eastwood’s character in “Gran Torino”? Walt Kowalski!
And nobody stops to (damn spelling reform!) think about what they would do if they were in the same situation, without taking it or putting it on. This is perhaps our biggest problem of our time. A problem that is reflected in all our choices and decisions – including the option for Bolsonaro or the ex-convict. We are incapable of putting ourselves in the other’s shoes in order to understand them, and not judge them. Not to absolve or condemn him. Only and only understand what led him to do this – and not that.
“Hey, don’t go away!”
This is the moment of the chronicle in which I usually ask the reader to close their eyes, put themselves in Roberto Jefferson’s shoes and try to imagine what the reaction would be. For this, however, the reader has to put on the character’s skin. He has to be old and sick, like motorcycles, sing opera, have a daughter named Cristiane Brasil, etc. And he has to have the same political and religious convictions and the same background as Roberto Jefferson, including his participation in Mensalão. He has to feel the same anger, he has to taste the gall of the same sorrows, he has to envision the same aspirations.
Difficult, right? But, I don’t know. You suddenly have a little time to spare on this cloudy Tuesday morning. It doesn’t hurt to try. Even if it’s just to realize the difficulty of putting ourselves in the other’s shoes without trying to compensate for other people’s defects with our own qualities. That is, without contaminating the character with our flawed-that-thinks-perfect personality.
The difficulty of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, even more so when the the other is a figure as complex as Roberto Jefferson, it is directly proportional to the ease with which we judge the decisions of that other. Calling the other an imbecile is easier (and pleasurable) than recognizing that, in a similar situation, we might also act imbecilely. In the same way, it is much easier to demand courage from the other when it is not our life that is at risk.
“Hey, don’t go away, no! Are you thinking that you can end the chronicle like this, without telling us what would you do in Roberto Jefferson’s place?!”, asks the indignant reader, holding me by the arm. I turn around, frown, open my mouth to respond, and before running away, I leave an empty, silly sentence in the air, hoping they’ll mistake it for a cryptic and wise sentence: “I wouldn’t do anything like that. wasn’t slightly different.” I went.