I met this Portuguese guy, who drives taxi cab in Geneva and speaks very good English. He has lived in various parts of the world including the US and Brazil. As we drove, we spoke about various topics including football, life in Switzerland, the Brazilian way of life etc. I took particular interest in the time he spent in Brazil and we spoke extensively about the 2014 Football World Cup.
During the discussion, I mentioned that “a lot of Portuguese speak Brazilian language”. The gentlemen nicely corrected me that it is the other opposite: “a lot of Brazilians speak Portuguese”. For few seconds, his statement did not add up in my head. The population of Brazil is about twenty times bigger than that of Portugal and the size of the Brazilian economy is fifteen times larger than the Portuguese. But the gentleman was very correct.
Given today’s facts, who could imagine that sometimes ago in history, Portugal colonized Brazil; who could imagine that Portugal used to be bigger than Brazil. Many years ago, the two countries were not in the same category; Portugal had much more power than Brazil. These are new times though, things have changed and the changes are significant.
Reading through history and the kingdoms that used to rule the entire world, one will realise that times change, “kingdoms come and kingdoms go”, power changes hands no matter how long it takes, countries who were No 1 would someday become second, third and continue their downward spiral if care is not taken. Having this understanding, what matter of mentality do we require if we find ourselves on top “for now”: Humility, Openness of mind, Respect for humanity, Love, Respect for Diversity…you can add yours to the list.
A generation will come that will never know that China used to make low quality products for survival; it’s happening already, when you consider that a lot of high quality goods sold in western markets are made in China. A generation will witness a black country being one of the super powers in this world; the history about slavery will feel like fiction.
A generation of Americans will witness successive female presidents that it will feel like the norm. A generation will exist when cancer becomes like headache or malaria; very curable and no longer the scourge it is today.
Though not in the majority, there are times you get the feeling that some people from powerful nations or races disparage (in words and actions) other humans from less developed or poor nations and races. This attitude is not a white, black or brown issue but a human thing.
There are times I see this disparagement between various tribes of the same race; between the powerful and the not-so-powerful. There are times you witness it at airports when arriving in some countries or during interactions within your own country when dealing with “high-class” people who may have dismissive attitudes. It is the same attitude that makes colleagues or fellow students bully other people; that feeling that “I am on top and others are beneath”.
How do we change this? Perspectives. Reinforcing the message that times change and the world is constantly shifting in all directions. No one stays on top forever; it may continue to be well with you but all other people will not be on the ground forever. Learning to treat humans with basic dignity and decency; learning to be blind to race and social status. Portugal is still a great country but Brazil has moved up from the ground. Always remember, life is about perspectives.