Leonardo Boff sets out pathways to hope for a world of good living

From Crisis to Hope: New Pathways for a World of Good Living was the theme that the Professor and Doctor of Theology, Leonardo Boff, brought to Salvador. The event, promoted by the Advisory Service for Rural People’s Organizations (Serviço de Assessoria a Organizações Populares Rurais: SASOP) and the Ecumenical Coordination of Service (Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço: CESE), with support from the Bahia Museum of Art (Museu de Arte da Bahia: MAB), took place on 25 May in the MAB auditorium.

The Dialogue with Leonardo Boff was a gathering of approximately 500 people, including teachers, students, religious people, representatives of organizations, social movements and the public authorities, as well as liberal professionals. The aim of the event was to discuss reflections and debates about the challenges and possibilities for the construction of an inclusive development project and for social and environmental justice, given the political, social and ecological setbacks currently happening on the planet.

The meeting started with a talk about the crisis, which, for Boff, is one of the great crises of civilization, generated by capitalism. “The large corporations and financial capital are behind the parliamentary coup in Brazil. The same thing they did in Paraguay, in Venezuela, they are doing in Brazil. When more progressive governments emerge, they act. That is the neoliberal coup,” he explained.

Boff also pointed out that the project put forward by neoliberalism in Brazil is savage and sacrifices the people. “They want a smaller Brazil, a Brazil for the few. Ethics does not matter to them. Only what is materialistic, economic. The project we have to fight for is a Brazil for all. We have to have our own technology, our own sovereignty, using our own resources sustainably. We are victims of capital. We have gone from being a society with a market to a market society, where the goods and services of nature – the Indians call them the goodness of nature – are increasingly exhausted. Capitalism has found a limit that is the exhaustion of nature, but it has found it in a speculative manner, in which money produces money,” he stressed.

For him, the possibility of overcoming this system, which has been internalized and naturalized by people around the world, must be inspired by a change in the structure of production, one that considers nature, the soil, the people. According to the theologian, Pope Francis’ Encyclical of Integral Ecology was not only written for Christians, but for all humanity. “We need to save our “Common House”, as the Pope says, the only house we have. The Earth does not need us. We need it. It may be that it will find a way to eliminate us, but it will continue moving forward without us. This is a real possibility. We must change how we live, the way we inhabit the earth, so as to go forward into the future”, he argued.

Boff also stressed that the type of world that we are living in today has to end, because it is highly destructive. “The economy of humanity will be constructed by ecology and by balance between all elements, with nature and not against it. Brazil could be a hegemonic power, because it has the most fresh water on the planet. It could have the water table for the entire world. We could have this, if the economy was guided by ecology,” he said.

The theologian also indicated that the pathway to recover hope depends on each and every one. “Be a seed of the new. Begin to create the new. It is the seed that brings the roots, the crowns, the trunks. The worst thing we can do is nothing. As never before, history is calling on us for a new beginning, for a sustainable way of life. Every human being has the right to the earth, to a roof over their head and to work. In the Encyclical, the Pope says this four times. We cannot wait for anything from above, because only exploitation comes from above,” he finished.

For Nélia Nascimento, historian and representative of the non-governmental organization, the Centre for Studies and Social Action (Centro de Estudos e Ação Social: CEAS), Leonardo Boff’s lecture provided an analysis of the political situation and the crises which went beyond the political sphere, to focus on the economic. “He was very didactic when he outlined the trajectory of the crisis, from capitalism since 2009 through the relationship between China, Russia and the United States to arrive at our responsibility for change. He set out a pathway to follow for those with no perspective that change is possible,” she declared.

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