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about a sense of community…

I grew up in many places where being a part of a community seemed natural… second nature. Your neighbor drops her wallet, you pick it up. I see a can on the floor, I throw it away. You need a cup of sugar, sure! They are simple things… things that make people want to live altogether in the same place. However, I didn’t realize that this is something very precious. A sense that everyone is working for the good of other people so we can all live in a better place. Am I being naive? Maybe. However, if I thought there was one big thing missing in São Paulo that would make a big difference I would say community. A sense of feeling connected; motivated by each other to improve ourselves and the place we live in.

The dictionary describes community as a group of people in a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities and society. Wake up São Paulo! We all live here… we all need to survive! So let’s try and help each other out. Maybe it goes back to my argument about education being the primary problem in Brazil. In the end, with education comes respect, with respect comes community… right?

I think the closest I have felt to a community here was when I went to Favela Rocinha. Favela is a Brazilian shanty town and Rocinha is the name of one of the biggest Favelas not only in Rio, but in Brazil. G and I visited the neighborhood a couple of years ago and I will never forget it because of the sense of community I felt when I was inside this place. Unfortunately, Favelas are usually funded and maintained by drug trafficking and drug-lords, so putting that detail aside the sense of community is much stronger in a place like this. Everyone is working together to create a community. Why is it like this? I understand that the people within this community probably earn much less than the average person in Brazil, they probably have less education, less things, less worries and maybe outside of this Favela they don’t contribute to society, but inside this Favela you see that people live so close to each other… it is impossible to not know what your neighbor is doing, it is impossible to get away with being rude or inconsiderate, it is impossible to not play your part in society (within the Favela). So what is it that São Paulo needs to change? Or maybe it is bigger than São Paulo and Brazil.. What makes us humans want to feel a sense of community or not?


    2 Comments Post a comment
    1. reuben #

      leah. you are very thoughtful. one book i read that changed my life is by a brazilian author named paulo friere. pedagogy of the oppressed. have you read it? if not, find it down there.
      its kinda heavy, but kinda amazing.

      October 25, 2010
    2. Ricardo #

      Leah, interesting commentary, but what we have to note here in Brazil is that not only the sense of community is a problem, but the will of the people of getting the most from everything they see. Nobody thinks about what they have in their lives neither about the fact that they are already happy. People do not search for happyness, they search for power, they have an strange desire of having always more that they do. That´s something that I always note in small communities like the building I live in, for example. Everybody wants to show to the other how powerfull they are, or try to take advantage of the other. For example when people have stupid discussions when sharing the garages, or because of the ones who have dogs and the others don´t like it. Nobody tries to find a common sense. The car traffic in SP is the same, nobody is kind to anybody. We are a happy country that cannot in anyway realize how happy we can be with our lives and how happy we can became if we live in a better place, which means everybody helping each other to built a better society. I m sure I m not being naive, it s a little step that we have to do but are not encouraged to. We are just always criticizing the goverment, but the fact is only one, we are part of that, and maybe we should give the example to the goverment. We close our eyes to the people in the streets, we close our eyes to the violence and worst than that, we do stupid things like throwing garbage in the streets, sitting in the special needs sits in the metro, etc. Things can get better, but we, not the goverment, we brazilians will have to work hard if we really want it.

      Regards and sorry for my english mistakes (but that s the reason why you teach me english, lol)

      Ricardo Gestal

      April 20, 2011

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