Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Brazilian Identity

Tracy Novinger's Communicating with Brazilians (University of Texas Press, Austin), as I mentioned in previous posts, is a book worth spending time with. The other day, I came across these ponderings on Brazilian identity by Lauro Moreira, a Brazilian career diplomat, that Novinger sums up like this:

"The Brazilian is psychologically mercurial, alternating easily between euphoria and depression. This is neither good nor bad. It is Brazilian. Although the Brazilian may have momentary outburts of anger, lasting hatred is not part of the Brazilian psyche. Moreira states that the Brazilian is very hard to rouse to fanaticism, which he thinks one of the most important aspects of the Brazilian psyche."

I had heard this - that Brazilians are not prone to fanaticism - before, from Ricardo Schütz (of Schütz & Kanomata Idiomas in Santa Cruz do Sul). I had asked him how he would characterise Brazilians and Ricardo responded with a story (which is, I find, the best way of conveying ideas): In his student days he once had to drive an internationally operating Brazilian business leader from Porto Alegre to Santa Cruz. This is a two-hour trip and there was lots of time to talk. Among other things, the business executive told him that Brazilians were spiritually healthier than many others. Interesting, I thought, but how would you prove that? Ricardo said: mass suicides, as in the US, for instance, do not exist in Brazil.

There are many reasons why I like Brazil but this absence of fanaticism is surely one of them.

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