2021 ends and I am sure that, when congratulating friends, no one will tell them that they wish them a year like the one that ends, since the new one could be worse. Everyone wishes a “better and happier” new year. And so it is every year, which indicates that we are by nature dissatisfied, that we always need more and better.
Philosophers, psychologists and scientists should study more that strange dimension of the human that is dissatisfaction. So far it has been denigrated. If we delve into the human essence, we will see that happiness is born from the dimension that characterizes humans in the desire to progress, to create, to break down barriers, to glimpse the new.
It is true that many times we make mistakes and what we believe is new and better is revealed as worse and more harmful, but even those errors do not prevent our vocation from continuing to search for what we do not yet have, but which we are capable of imagining.
Without the ability to be dissatisfied we would stop all progress, science, invention, the desire for novelty. Satisfied beings no longer seek, they do not strive to improve, they will not change the world. There are those who wonder what use it is for humans to want to conquer space, to reach new planets. We do not know what it will do, but we certainly cannot override the ability and willingness to discover. Otherwise, we humans would still continue to live in our little piece of land without discovering other peoples, other cultures, other realities. Sometimes we have ended up destroying them, depriving them of their originality, but the impetus of discovery is part of the insatiability of knowing about humans.
Animals don’t have that dissatisfaction. They live only in the moment. They do not invent. Birds have always built their nests the same. They don’t know the architecture. They have been singing the same for centuries. They don’t create new music like humans. They do not know how to increase their years of life. Only domestic animals, because humans take care of and cure them.
A proverb that I always liked is that of “less is more”, since we suffer from excessive things and the greatest wealth is simplicity. I recognize that this is outside the rules of the characteristics of the human who is driven to have more, to produce, to change, to accumulate. Human beings have even known how to invent instruments to curb what remains of instincts of violence, destruction and death, such as culture and religions that serve as antidotes to what we still have of instincts of destruction.
If we are seekers of the new, of the unpublished, of what we do not yet have, why are we at the same time fascinated by the past, archaeological ruins, amphorae and ancient coins, cooking with firewood, walking barefoot in the grass, getting lost in the jungles and in the seas? Because all that we call old is new to us. Human beings thirst for novelty, they get bored with normality. And that happens with science, with medicine, with the arts. We are always in search of novelty. Newspapers and literature would not attract us if they did not offer us news, news. Hence the paradoxical fascination of destructive fake news, the lies. We are not attracted to normality but to the unusual. The old adage of “I think therefore I am”, which characterizes the human, could today be translated as “I feel unsatisfied therefore I am alive”. Only the dead want nothing.
And all this in politics, in art, in philosophy and even in religion. Even atheism is a form of dissatisfaction because the search for mystery is infinite.
Today, in Brazil, given the political crisis that has experienced these three years in which the country has been on the brink of a political coup and even a civil war, that desire for change, that dissatisfaction with the old politics has led the country to edge of tragedy. And this because it is also true that sometimes, that impulse of existential dissatisfaction can play tricks.
Three years ago, in the presidential elections, millions of people voted for Captain Bolsonaro, who promised to end the general dissatisfaction against the corruption-tainted policy of the PT and Lula to make way for the new. Today the majority of those who voted for the one who would turn out to be a coup plotter and a genocide, repent and, according to the polls, will vote this time for Lula, that is, the past.
The boundary between dissatisfaction and the reality of things is sometimes very subtle and can be misleading, hence the importance of experience, of the past, of what has already been lived, that they are teachers of life.
Three years ago, Brazilians dissatisfied with the present voted for the new and it turned out to be the most stale in their history, the most cruel, something that cost many innocent lives. Bolsonaro, in effect, at the beginning of the pandemic that took more than 600,000 lives, mocked those who tried to protect themselves from it. He called them “covardes” (thus with ve, a mix between covid and cowards), and boasted that “athletes” like him did not get infected. When the vaccine of hope arrived, he boycotted and delayed it. Today he has reached the limit of his psychopathy and lack of feelings, denying children the vaccine until now because, according to him, “not enough have died” to justify vaccinating the living. As if the life of a single innocent had no more value than the entire universe.
Bolsonaro, which Brazil would need to get rid of next year to begin its reconstruction among the ruins, with hunger, unemployment, social injustice and a climate of war, is an exception to that reality of the creative dissatisfaction of humans. His motto is destruction, violence and death. Loves dictatorships and torture. He is a satisfied being, settled in his ignorance and wickedness, unable to envision a world of peace and creativity.
Given this reality, we can wish our Brazilian friends, without giving up our creative dissatisfaction, a happy new year “without Bolsonaro.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.