Stages of the tragic ecological aggressiveness of human beings

If we reduce the 13.7 billion years of the existence of the universe, to just one year, the current human being, sapiens sapiens, appeared in the process of evolution on December 31, at 23 hours, 58 minutes and 10 seconds, according to calculations by several cosmologists. So we appear less than two minutes into the final cosmic year. What is the point of having arrived so late in the cosmogenic process? To crown such a process or to destroy it? This is an open question. What we can see is our growing destructiveness of the environment in which we live, nature and our Common Home. Let’s see some stages of our aggressiveness. It leaves us with disturbing questions.

1. Interaction with nature

In the beginning, our ancestors, lost in the shadows of time immemorial, had a harmonious relationship with nature. They entertained a non-destructive interaction: they took what nature plentifully offered them. That time lasted a few millennia, starting in Africa, where human beings appeared 8-9 million years ago. Therefore, we are all, in some way, Africans. Our bodily, psychic, intellectual and spiritual structures were formed there, which are present in the unconscious of all humans until the present day.

2. Intervention in nature

More than two million years ago, skilled man (homo habilis) erupted in the process of anthropogenesis (the genesis of the human being in evolution). Here a first turning point occurred. It began what culminated in an extreme way today.

The skillful man invented instruments with which he operated an intervention in nature: a pointed stick, a sharp stone and other similar resources. What nature spontaneously offered him was not enough. With intervention, he could wound and kill an animal with the sharp end of a stick or he could cut plants with sharp stone tools.

This intervention lasted millennia. But with the introduction of agriculture and irrigation it developed much more intensely. This occurred around 10-12 thousand ago (different in different regions), in the so-called Neolithic era. Waters were diverted from rivers, such as the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, the Nile in Egypt, the Indus and Ganges in India and the Yellow in China. They improved crops, raised animals and birds to be slaughtered, especially chickens, pigs, oxen and sheep. The human population grew rapidly. It is the time when humans stopped being nomads and became sedentary. They created towns and cities, generally, along the rivers mentioned above or around the immense internal lake, the Amazon, which thousands of years ago flowed into the Pacific.

3.Aggression to nature

From intervention we moved on to the aggression of nature. It occurred when metal instruments, spears, axes, and weapons were used to kill animals and people. Aggression specialized until it culminated in the industrial age of the 18th century in Europe, starting in England. Vast machinery was invented that allowed extracting enormous riches from nature. A decisive step in aggression was taken in modern times, when techno-science emerged with an immense capacity for exploring nature on all levels and fronts.

It was based on the premise that human beings felt themselves to be “masters and owners” of nature and not part of it. The driving idea that guided them was the will to power, understood as the ability to dominate everything: other people, social groups, peoples, continents, nature, matter, life and the Earth itself as a whole.

The Englishman Francis Bacon expressed this purpose by saying: “One must torture nature as the torturer tortures his victim, until she gives up all her secrets”. Here aggression gained official status. It was and continues to be applied to the present day.

The starting point was the (false) assumption that natural resources were unlimited. This allowed forging a development project that was also unlimited. Today we know that the Earth is limited and finite and that it does not support a project of unlimited growth. But this belief is still dominant.

4. The destruccion od the nature

In recent decades, especially after the Second World War (1939-1945), systematic aggression gained dimensions of true destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity. Mother Earth itself began to be attacked on all its fronts. To meet current human consumption, we need an Earth and a half, which produces the Earth Overshoot, which this year occurred on July 22nd.

According to notable scientists, we have inaugurated a new geological era, the Anthropocene, in which human beings emerge as the greatest threat to nature and life. It has reached the point where our industrialist process and consumerist lifestyle decimate around 100,000 living organisms annually. Based on this true biological tragedy, we speak of the necrocene, that is, the era of mass death (necro) of natural lives and also of human lives. Entire ecosystems are also being affected in the Amazon. Finally, some already refer to the pyrocene (Pyros in Greek is fire). The change in the climate regime and the unstoppable warming dry out the soil and also heat up the stones in such a way that sticks and dry leaves catch fire that spreads, generating huge fires already experienced throughout Europe, Australia, the Amazon and other places. .

Who will stop the destructive impetus and fury of the human being who has already built the means of his own self-destruction with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons? Just divine intervention? God, according to the Scriptures, is the Lord of life and the “passionate lover of life.” Will you intervene? Questions remain open.

Leonardo Boff, wrote The satan man or good angel? Record, Rio de Janeiro 20


Something os Ours is Already Saved

Let’s start with a big question. As a liberation theologian, what does international s

An Interview with Leonardo Boff by Dean Dettloff | Fall 2022 Issue | Published 4th October 2022

Let’s start with a big question. As a liberation theologian, what does international solidarity mean to you

First we need to accept what has been demonstrated by neurobiologists and neuropsychologists: solidarity belongs to our DNA. This is an objective fact. What we must do is to make it a subjective project, to assume it as a condition of our existence in community.

Today, for the prevailing and international system, competition is worth more than cooperation, and individualism is worth more than solidarity. Solidarity does not exist as a global political project – the most that exists is charitable aid and paternalism.

The pandemic showed both dimensions of this: an astonishing lack of solidarity from rich countries that bought vaccines only for themselves without thinking of others, and the existence of solidarity in the poorest groups. The Landless Workers’ Movement, which gathers more than 100,000 people in its settlements, donated more than 30 tons of organic products and a million plates of food to the poor. Here the ethics of solidarity was lived.

Christianity, as a global faith community, has provided a powerful source for international solidarity movements around the world. But Christianity, as a colonial force, has also contributed to the oppressive conditions that many international solidarity movements are trying to oppose. How can liberation theology help us negotiate these contradictions?

Historically, we must recognize that the Church – the institution – took on as its own the colonial project of the European powers. It did a lot of charity. But it did not show solidarity with the slaves and the Indigenous people. It participated in their extermination. It did not recognize in the other a brother or a sister, redeemed by Christ. It saw them as pagans who had to be converted or else subjugated and even eliminated. We had in Latin America a real Holocaust with millions of Indigenous and Black people exterminated.

Liberation theology has as its basic reference point the practice of the historical Jesus and his following. Jesus’s practice is always directed toward those who have the most marginalized lives: the blind, the lepers, the hungry, those despised by society, those considered sinners, the sick with various kinds of diseases. He always takes their side and shows solidarity by healing them.

You have written extensively about grassroots communities and the renewal of the Catholic Church through grassroots communities. What do ecclesial base communities (CEBs) teach us about solidarity?

The CEBs live another model of Church. Not the pyramidal Church-society made of unequals (clerics and laity) whose structuring axis is sacred power, exercised only by a group of men ordained in the sacrament of order. CEBs live the model of the Church-community and communion of brothers and sisters. Everyone participates, distributing tasks among themselves. Their main ethic is solidarity among all, as they help each other in a spirit of deep brotherhood. They have created a network of communities that in Brazil alone are at least 80-90 thousand, involving thousands of men and women.

The global capitalist economy is in crisis, both because of the internal contradictions of capitalism and upheavals like the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. You have written a lot about socialism and economic alternatives. What would it mean for us to build an economy of solidarity?

We have reached such a point of degradation of the life-system and the Earth-system that we could self-destruct. We have built the principle of self-destruction with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons that can eliminate all life on Earth several times over. There is no worldwide social contract – that is, a plural centre that thinks about and seeks solutions to global problems. The pandemic showed this lack, because it did not respect the limits of nations. It affected all of humanity.

COVID-19 fell like a thunderbolt on the capitalist system and neoliberalism. The mantras of this system are: profit above all else, competition, accumulation, and maximum exploitation of the resources of nature.

What will save us is: life as the centre, interdependence among all, care for each other and for nature, cooperation among all, and states sufficiently equipped to attend to the infirmities, especially of the most vulnerable groups. Either we join hands and stand in solidarity with each other or we will be digging our own grave.

Latin America is home to some of the most powerful solidarity movements in the world. In some cases, as with the Movimiento al Socialismo in Bolivia, these movements have even led to the formation of progressive governments. What lessons can we learn from these movements? What makes them so effective?

We should learn from the way of life of the original peoples, the Indigenous people. They live fraternal and egalitarian relationships. The Andean people for centuries have lived the bien vivir and the bien convivir. The essence of this way is harmony: harmony in the family, harmony with Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, harmony with nature, with the waters, with the mountains, and with all beings. It starts from the fact that Mother Earth gives us everything we need. When it is not enough, we help her with our work. Free time is for living together, celebrating, cultivating our rites, and caring for our houses. This model is regional. But it contains a true principle: always live in harmony with nature and never sacrifice it. When the collective consciousness that we do in fact live in a single Common House emerges and predominates, this bien vivir and coexistence will serve as a model for everyone.

You have historically supported movements such as the Landless Workers’ Movement and the Workers’ Party in Brazil. Many theologians will speak strongly about justice, but are nervous to give their explicit support to specific movements and parties. What do you think about this hesitation?

I believe that when we notice great social injustices – structural sins that offend the Creator and his children – no one can remain indifferent. To be indifferent is to take the side of the oppressor. Most liberation theologians who are priests or bishops have never joined a party. Party is always “part.” And they seek to reach the whole. I am not very interested in parties. I am interested in those whose project gives centrality to the great majority of poor people, who seek social justice, promote agrarian reform, and make the inclusion of the greatest number of people possible in the goods achieved by social development. Whoever proposes to do this, I support.

Former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has always affirmed that those who gave the greatest support to the Workers’ Party were the base ecclesial communities, made up of laymen and women with the support of religious leaders, like Cardinal Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns or Bishop Dom Pedro Casaldáliga and so many other pastors and prophets.

How can people from the Global North express true solidarity with people from the Global South? Are there habits or trends that people in the Global North should be especially vigilant about when it comes to solidarity?

We need to recognize that the various churches – Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and others from the U.S. and Europe, especially Germany – have institutionally supported projects that aim to fight poverty, support family and organic agriculture, and defend the Indigenous people and their lands that are invaded by the big mining companies, almost all of them foreign.

But I believe that the main thing would be for the population – especially Christians – of the Global North to become more aware of the strategies their governments use to dominate the world. For example, supporting right-wing governments and even coups d’état, keeping countries dependent on their economic and military policies.

We continue to be neocolonized countries, prevented from having our own sovereign and proud national projects. We are forced to align ourselves with the domination strategies of the Global North, especially now that NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the U.S. have united in such a way as to create a bloc that can practically take on the whole world, economically and militarily. They have declared Russia an immediate enemy and China a later enemy. This model is the one that Hitler used, supported by his greatest jurist Carl Schmitt, who stated that every nation only constitutes itself as a nation when it chooses an enemy to defame, persecute, and, if possible, destroy. This belligerent policy will inevitably lead to the third world war. And with it humanity itself may disappear.

Our world is experiencing a global pandemic, growing inequality, an increase in right-wing leaders and violence, and much more, including the devastating effects of climate change. Pope Francis has warned that we are already in a Third World War, as the nature of war and the arms trade has taken on a global scale. Where do you find hope? Can solidarity deliver us from these evils?

Noam Chomsky, a great American intellectual and fine analyst of world cultural trends, has said many times: the big risk is not global warming. There are enough crazies in the Pentagon and on the Russian side that support a world war. It will be 1+1=0. That is, one country will totally destroy the other. The few survivors would have such a miserable life that they would envy those who died before. With the use of autonomous artificial intelligence, such a tragedy is not out of the realm of possibility.

Here the theological hope comes in. In the book of Wisdom it is said that “God created all things with love.” He hates none of them or he would not have created them, because God is the passionate lover of life.

Our hope is that the life drive is stronger than the death drive. And God will make us awake and take collective solutions that can save us. A God, a passionate lover of life, will not allow the human being that he created with love to disappear miserably like this. We are encouraged by the hope that those who share our humanity, Jesus and Mary, are already in the bosom of the Trinity. Therefore, something of ours is already saved. And we will follow them.

Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian liberation theologian and the author of over 60 books. He currently lives in Jardim Araras, an ecological countryside region in the municipality of Petrópolis in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Versão em Português

Vamos começar com uma grande pergunta. Como teólogo da libertação, o que significa para você a solidariedade internacional?

Primeiramente precisamos acolher o que foi demonstrado por neurobiólogos e neuropsicólogos que a solidariedade pertence ao DNA do ser humano.Este é um dado objetivo. O que devemos, é fazê-lo um projeto subjetivo, assumi-lo como condição de nossa existência em comunidade. Exatamente isto não foi feito. Hoje para o sistema imperante e internacional vale mais a competição que a cooperação, o individualismo do que a solidariedade.Esta não existe como projeto político global. O máximo que existe é o assistencialismo e o paternalismo. A pandemia mostrou ambas as dimensões: uma espantosa falta de solidariedade dos países ricos que compraram vacinas só para si sem pensar nos outros e a existência da solidariedade,nos grupos mais pobres. O Movimento dos Sem Terra que reúne mais de cem mil pessoas em seus assentamentos doaram mais de 30 toneladas de produtos orgânicos e um milhão de pratos de comida aos pobres. Aqui se viveu a ética da solidariedade.

O cristianismo, como comunidade de fé global, tem proporcionado uma poderosa fonte para movimentos de solidariedade internacional em todo o mundo. Mas o cristianismo, como uma força colonial, também contribuiu para as condições opressivas às quais muitos movimentos de solidariedade internacional estão tentando se opor. Como a teologia da libertação pode nos ajudar a negociar estas contradições dentro do cristianismo?

A teologia da libertação tem como ponto de referência básico a prática do Jesus histórico e de seu seguimento. Se bem repararmos a prática de Jesus está sempre voltada para aqueles que menos vida têm: os cegos,os leprosos,os famintos, os desprezados pela sociedade,os considerados pecadores, os doentes de várias espécies de enfermidades. Sempre toma partido deles e se mostra solidário, curando-os. É também solidário com aqueles considerados herejes como a mulher samaritana, o bom samaritano, a mulher sirio-fenícia e outros.Nos Atos dos Apóstolos se diz que o s cristãos colocavam solidariamente tudo em comum. E como louvor se afirma que não havia pobres entre eles. Historicamente devemos reconhecer que a Igreja-grande-instituição assumiu como seu o projeto colonial das potências europeias. Fez muita caridade. Mas não se mostrou solidária com os escravos e os indígenas. Ela participou de seu extermínio. Ela não reconheceu no outro diferente um irmão ou uma irmã, redimidos por Cristo. Vio-os como pagãos que deviam ser convertidos ou então subjugados e até eliminados. Tivemos na América Latiana uma verdadeira Shoah com milhões de indígenas e negros exterminados.

Você escreveu extensivamente sobre as comunidades de base e a renovação da Igreja Católica através das comunidades de base. O que as comunidades de base nos ensinam sobre solidariedade, e como elas são hoje?

As comunidades eclesiais de base vivem outro modelo de Igreja. Não a Igreja-sociedade piramidal e feita de desiguais (clérigos e leigos) cujo eixo estruturador é o poder sagrado, exercito apenas por um grupo de homens ordenados no sacramento da ordem. Ela vive o modelo da Igreja-comunidade e comunhão de irmãos e irmãos. Todos participam, distribuem entre si as tarefas. Sua ética principal é a solidariedade entre todos,pois se entre-ajudam num espírito de profunda irmandade.Ela criou uma rede de comunidades que só no Brasil são pelo menos umas 80-90 mil, envolvendo milhares de homens e mulheres.

A economia capitalista global está em crise, tanto por causa das contradições internas do capitalismo quanto por causa de convulsões como a pandemia e a guerra na Ucrânia, que revelaram o quanto estamos profundamente conectados em uma era de cadeias de fornecimento multinacionais. Você tem escrito muito sobre socialismo e alternativas econômicas. O que significaria para nós construir uma economia de solidariedade?

Nós chegamos a um ponto de degradação do sistema-vida e do sistema-Terra que podemos nos auto-destruir. Construimos o princípio de auto-destruição com armas químicas,biológicas e nucleares que podem eliminar por várias vezes toda a vida na Terra. Não existe um contrato social mundial, quer dizer, um centro plural que pensa e busca soluções para os problemas globais. A pandemia mostrou esta falta pois ela não respeitou os limites das nações. Atingiu a toda a humanidade. Mas houve sinais de solidariedade. Se a primeira ministra alemã Angela Merkel não tivesse mostrado solidariedade para com centenas de velhinhos italianos que não tinham como serem tratados, e os recebeu nos hospitais alemães, eles teriam morrido. Estranhamente a China doou gratuitamente milhões de vacinas para a Africa e outros suprimentos higiênicos, como sinal de solidariedade que, aliás, é a grande virtude do sistema socialista. O Covid-19 caiu como um raio sobre o sisema capitalista e sobre o neoliberalismo. Os mantras deste sistema são: o lucro acima de tudo, a competição, a acumulação individualista ou corporativa, a exploração máxima dos recursos da natureza, o mercado acima da sociedade e o estado mínimo para pemitir mais liberdade para o capital fazer seus negócios. Se tivéssemos seguidos estes mantras (anti-valores) milhões teriam morrido.O que nos salvou foi: a vida como centro, a interdependência entre todos, o cuidado de uns para com os outros e para com a natureza, a cooperação entre todos, um estado suficienemente apetrechado para atender as enfermidades, especialmente dos grupos mais vulneráveis. São estes valores que nos estão salvando e nos salvarão. A degração geral dos ecossistemas chegou a um ponto de que o Papa na Fratelli tutti disse: “estamos nos mesmo barco, ou nos salvamos todos ou ninguém se salva”. Ou nos damos as mãos e nos solidarizamos uns com os outros ou estaremos cavando a nossa própria sepultura.

A América Latina é o lar de alguns dos mais poderosos movimentos de solidariedade do mundo. Em alguns casos, como com o Movimiento al Socialismo na Bolívia, estes movimentos levaram até mesmo à formação de governos progressistas. Que lições podemos aprender com estes movimentos? O que os torna tão eficazes?

Devemos aprender do modo de vida dos povos originários, os indígenas. Eles vivem relações fraternas e igualitárias. Os andinos por séculos vivem o “bien vivir” e o “bien convivir”. A essência desse modo é a harmonia: a harmonia na família, harmonia com a Pacha Mama, a Mãe Terra, harmonia com a natureza, com as águas, com as montanhas e com todos os seres.A economia não é de acumulação mas de subsistência. Partem do fato de que a Mãe Terra nos dá tudo o que precisamos. Quando não é suficiente nos a ajudamos com nosso trabalho. O tempo livre é para a convivência, as festas, o cultivo de nossos ritos e arrumar nossas casas. Esse modelo é regional. Mas ele encerra um princípio verdadeiro: viver sempre em harmonia com a natureza e nunca sacrificá-la. Quando surgir e predominar a consciência coletiva de que de fato vivemos numa única Casa Comum, esse bien viver e conviver servirá de modelo para todos, incluindo a natureza.

Você tem apoiado historicamente movimentos como o Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra e o Partido dos Trabalhadores no Brasil. Muitos teólogos falarão fortemente sobre justiça, mas estão nervosos para dar seu apoio explícito a movimentos e partidos específicos. O que o senhor acha dessa hesitação? Você já experimentou alguma contradição significativa como resultado de sua própria decisão de apoiar projetos políticos concretos como teólogo cristão?

Creio que quando notamos grandes injustiças sociais que são pecados estruturais que ofendem o Criador e a seus filhos e filhas, ninguém pode ficar indiferente. Ficar indiferente é tomar o partido do opressor. A maioria dos teólogos da libertação que são sacerdotes ou bispos nunca se filiaram a um partido. Partido é sempre parte. E eles procuram atingir o todo. A mim não me interessam muito os partidos. Interessam-me aqueles cujo projeto dê centralidade às grandes maiorias pobres, que busca a justiça social, promova a reforma agrária e faça a inclusão do maior número possível de pessoas nos bens conquistados pelo desenvolvimento social. Quem se propusar a isso,eu apoio, não por ser um partido, mas apoio seu projeto, pouco me importa o partido. Nunca tive dificuldades públicas e pessoas com essa opção. O ex-presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sempre tem afirmado: quem deu maior apoio e suporte ao Partido dos Trabalhadoes foram as comunidades eclesiais de base, feitas de leigos e leigas com o apoio das liderenças religiosas, como o Cardeal Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns ou o bispo Dom Pedro Casaldáliga e tantos outros bispos pastores e profetas. Isso foi mais importante que o movimento operário e os progressistas que voltaram do exílio forçado.

Com as vitórias eleitorais de esquerda em lugares como Peru, Bolívia, Chile e, mais recentemente, Colômbia, fala-se muito sobre a Maré Cor-de-Rosa que está subindo novamente na América Latina. O Brasil está prestes a ter uma eleição, e as pesquisas mostram que Lula, que você tem apoiado por muito tempo, é um candidato popular. Como o Brasil se relaciona com estas tendências na região? Você acha que há uma mudança significativa acontecendo?

O vergonhoso governo do atual presidente Jair Bolsonaro que abandonou o povo a sua própria sorte durante a pandemia, tendo hoje mais 700 mil vítimas, foi um negacionista. Desmontou praticamente tudo o que se criou por séculos em cultura, educação e respeito às leis. Apoiou as grandes queimadas da Amazônia e entregou bens comuns do povo (como o petróleo, o carvão, a soja e outros alimentos) às mutinacionais. O Brasil é o segundo maior exportador de alimentos e carnes do mundo. E este govern deixa 30 milhões passando fome e 110 milhões com grave insuficiência alimentar, no âmbito de uma população de 214 milhões de habitantes. Fez tantas desgraças e se desmoralizou de tal forma por seus comportamentos insensíveis para com os sofredores,por sua má educação e desprezo da ciência que não vemos nenhuma chance de que possa se reeleger. Seguramente Lula ganhará no primeiro turno. É um político de síntese, capaz de trazer paz ao país e reconstruir tudo o que foi destruido e ainda concluir a inserção de milhões na sociedade civil.

Como as pessoas do Norte Global podem expressar verdadeira solidariedade com as pessoas do Sul Global? Existem hábitos ou tendências que as pessoas no Norte Global deveriam estar especialmente vigilantes quando se trata de solidariedade?

Precisamos reconhecer que as várias igrejas, católica, luterana, presbiteriana e outras dos USA e da Europa, especialmente da Alemanha tem com suas instituições apoiado projetos que têm por objetivo combater a pobreza, apoiar a agricutura familiar e orgânica e defender os povos indígenas e suas terras que são invadidas pelas grandes empresas mineradoras, quase todas elas estrangeiras. Mas creio que o principal consistiria no fato de a população e os cristãos e cristãs do Norte Global em tomar mais consciência das estratégias de seus governos que procuram dominar o mundo seja apoiando governos de direita e mesmo golpes de estado e de manter os países dependentes de sua política econômica e militar. Conntinuamos sendo países neocolonizados, impedidos de ter um projeto de nação próprio, soberano e altivo. Somos obrigados a nos alinhar às estratégias de dominação do Norte Global, especialmente, agora que a NATO e os USA se uniram de tal forma criando um bloco praticamente para enfrentar todo o mundo, econômica e militarmente. Declararam a Rússia como inimiga imediata e a China como inimiga posterior. Esse modelo é aquele que Hitler tinha, apoiado em seu maior jurista Carl Schmitt que afirmava que cada nação só se constitui como nação qunado escolher um inimigo a quem difamar, perseguir e se possível destruir. Essa política beligerante, como denunciou Jeffrey Sachs na reunião em junho da NATO e dos USA em Madrid, levará inevitavemente à terceira guerra mundial. E com ela a própria humanidade poderá desaparecer. A razão moderna se tornou irracional a ponto de não temer a própria auto-destruição.

Nosso mundo está passando por uma pandemia global, uma desigualdade crescente, um aumento dos líderes de direita e da violência, e muito mais, incluindo os efeitos devastadores da mudança climática. O Papa Francisco advertiu que já estamos em uma Terceira Guerra Mundial, já que a natureza da guerra e do comércio de armas assumiu uma escala global. Onde você encontra esperança? A solidariedade pode nos livrar desses males?

Corremos sérios riscos de efetivamente nos auto-destruir. Noam Chomsky, um grande intelectual norte-americano e fino analista das tendências da cultura mundial, disse várias vezes: o grande risco não é o aquecimento global. Há suficientes loucos no Pentágon e no lado russo que apoiam uma guerra mundial. Será 1+1=0. Quer dizer, um país destruirá totalmente o outro. Os poucos sobreviventes teriam uma vida tão miserável que invejariam aqueles que morreram antes. Como a segurança nunca é total e ainda com o uso da inteligência artificial autônoma, uma tal tragédia não está fora das possibilidades. Aqui entra a esperança teológica. No livro da Sabedoria 11, 24-26 se diz que “Deus criou todas as coisas com amor. Não odeia nenhuma delas senão não as teria criado, porque Deus é o apaixonado amante da vida”. Nossa esperança é que a pulsão de vida é mais forte que a pulsão de morte. E Deus fará que despertemos e tomemos soluções coletivas que nos poderão salvar. Um Deus, apaixonado amante da vida, não permitirá que o ser humano que ele criou com amor desapareça assim miseravelmente. Alenta-nos a esperança de que alguém de nossa humanidade, Jesus e Maria, já estão no seio da Trindade. Portanto, algo nosso já está salvo. E nós seguiremos a eles.

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 66, Fall 2022, Global Resistance and Solidarity.


 In these times of political and presidential campaigns, it is not uncommon for a candidate to demonize his opponent. There is even an odd division between who is from God and who is from the Devil or Satan.

This term Satan (in Hebrew) or Devil (in Latin) has gained many meanings, positive and negative, throughout history. This occurs in many religions especially the Abrahamic ones (Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

However, we must say that no one has suffered so many injustices and has been so “demonized” as Satan himself. In the beginning it was not like that. For this reason it is important to briefly do the story of Satan or the Devil.

He is counted among the “sons of God” like the other angels, as it is said in the book of Job (1:6). It is in the celestial court. Therefore, it is a being of goodness. It’s not the bad figure that will win later. But he received from God an unusual and ungrateful task: he had to put to the test good people like Job, who is “a man of integrity, upright, fearing God and shunning evil” (Job 1:8). He must submit him to all kinds of tests to see if, in fact, he is what everyone says about him: “there is no other like him on earth” (Jn 1:8). As evidence promoted by Satan, he loses everything, family, possessions and friends. But he doesn’t lose faith.

There was a major mutation starting in the 6th century BC, when the Jews lived in Babylonian captivity (587 BC) in Persia. There they were confronted with the doctrine of Zoroaster which established the confrontation between the “prince of light” and the “prince of darkness”. They embodied this dualistic and Manichean view. Satan was born as a part of the kingdom of darkness, the “great accuser” or “adversary” who induces human beings to acts of evil. In sequence, the confrontation between God and Satan takes place. In late Jewish texts, from the 2nd century BC, especially in the book of Honoch, the saga of the revolt of angels led by Satan, now called Lucifer, against God is elaborated. It narrates the fall of Lucifer and about a third of the angels who adhered and ended up expelled from heaven.

The question then arises: where to put them if they were expelled? There he made use of the category of hell: burning fire and all the horrors, well described by Dante Alighieri in the second part of his Divina Comdia dedicated to hell.

In the First Testament (the Old) there is almost no mention of the devil (cf. Chron 21,1; Samuel 24,1). In the Second Testament (New) it appears in some accounts “...they will be thrown into the fiery furnace; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt 8,12;13,42-50; Lk 13,27) or in the parable of the rich man and the poor Lazarus (Lk 16,23-24) or in the Revelation (16,10 -11).
This understanding was assumed by ancient theologians, especially by St. Augustine. He influenced the entire tradition of the Churches, the doctrine of the Popes and has reached this day.
The category of hell and eternal damnation was decisive in the conversion of native peoples in Latin America and other mission places, producing fear and panic. Their ancestors, it was said, because they were not Christians, are in hell. And it was argued that if they did not convert and did not allow themselves to be baptized, they would meet the same fate. This is in all the catechisms that were elaborated shortly after the conquest with which to convert the Aztecs, Incas, more and others. It was fear, which once led and still leads to the conversion of multitudes, as shown by the great French historian Jean Delumeau. It is by appealing to the Devil, to Satan, that today, in times of rage and social hatred, one seeks to disqualify the adversary, often made an enemy to be demoralized and eventually liquidated.
Here we must overcome all the fundamentalism of the biblical text. It is not enough to quote texts about hell, even in the mouth of Jesus. We must know how to interpret them so as not to fall into contradiction with the concept of God and even to destroy the good news of Jesus, the Father full of mercy, like the father of the prodigal son who welcomes the lost son (Lk 15,11-23) .
First, human beings seek a reason for the evil in the world. He has great difficulty in assuming his own responsibility. Then transfer it to the Demon or demons.
Secondly, the meaning of demons and the hell of horrors represents a pedagogy of fear to make people seek the path of good through fear. Devil and hell, therefore, are human creations, a kind of sinister pedagogy, as mothers still do to children: “If you don't behave right, at night, the big bad wolf will come to bite your foot”. The human being can be the Satan of the earth and society. He can create “hell” for others through hatred, oppression and the mechanisms of death, as is unfortunately happening in our society.
Third, Satan or the Devil is a creature of God. To say that it is a creature of God, means that, at every moment, God is creating and recreating this creature, even in the fires of hell. Otherwise, it would return to nothingness. Can God, who is infinite love and goodness, propose to this? Well says the book of Wisdom: “Yes, you love all beings and hate nothing of what you have done; if you hated something you would not have created it; and how could anything subsist if you didn't want it... you spare them all because they belong to you, oh sovereign lover of life” (Wis 11,24-26). Pope Francis said it clearly: “there is no eternal damnation; she is only for this world.”
Fourthly, Jesus' great message is the infinite mercy of God-Abba (dear father) who loves everyone, even the “ungrateful and evil” (Lk 6:35). The affirmation of eternal punishment in hell directly destroys the good news of Jesus. A punishing God is incompatible with the historical Jesus who announced God's infinite love for everyone, even for sinners. Psalm 103 had already intuited this: “The Lord is merciful and forgiving, slow to anger and rich in mercy. He is not always accusing nor bears a grudge forever. He does not treat us according to our sins... as a father feels compassion for his sons and daughters, so the Lord will have mercy on those who love him, because he knows our nature and remembers that we are dust...The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (103,8-17). God can never lose any creature, however perverse. If he lost her, even one, he would have failed in his love. Well, that can't happen.
Well said Pope Francis who tirelessly preaches mercy: "Mercy will always be greater than any sin and no one will be able to put limits to the love of the God who forgives" (Misericordiae vultus, 2)
This does not mean that one will enter heaven anyway. Everyone will go through the judgment and clinic of God, to be purified there, recognize their sins, learn to love and finally enter the Kingdom of the Trinity. It is the purgatory that is not the anteroom of hell, but the anteroom of heaven. Whoever is there purifying himself already participates in the world of the redeemed.
Hell and demons and the main one, Satan, are our projections of the evil that exists in history or that we ourselves produce and for which we do not want to blame ourselves and we project them onto these sinister figures.
We must finally free ourselves from such projections in order to live the joy of Jesus Christ's message of universal salvation. This delegitimizes all Satanization in any situation, especially in politics and in charismatic Pentecostal churches that use the figure of the devil and hell in a totally exorbitant way. It scares the faithful rather than comforts them with the love and infinite mercy of God.
Leonardo Boff is a theologian, philosopher and wrote: Life beyond death, Voices, many editions 2021.

The next election as a plebiscite: biophilia (love for life) versus necrophilia (love for death )

                                    Leonardo Boff

At Easter Mass, one of the most beautiful hymns of the Gregorian is sung in which it is said: “death and life, looking at each other, fought a duel” (mors et vita duello conflixere mirando). And it concludes: “the lord of life, reigns alive” (dux vitae, regnat vivus).

I refer to this liturgical text as a metaphor of what I see taking place in the next elections: a plebiscite in which a political duel is effectively fought between two projects for Brazil and two models of President. I don’t want to say it, but one of the most brilliant legal intelligences in our country, ex-governor of Rio Grande do Sul, ex-minister of justice, Tarso Genro, affirms it:

“For Jair Bolsonaro there are no opponents, there are only enemies to be slaughtered by weapons. As a politician who defends the execution of suspects, the shooting of “30,000 compatriots”, the assassination of a peaceful and democratic president, torture as an inquisitorial method, the end of political democracy, who maintains that the dictatorship’s mistake was not to torture , but it was “not to kill”, which publicly expresses its admiration for Hitler and mocks the torture suffered by a worthy woman – who was being removed from the Presidency –, as this politician was cowardly naturalized by the neoliberal “establishment” and by the large chains of communication, after having committed and repeated many barbaric crimes and still having made a conscious genocidal propaganda against vaccination?”

Here it is clear a project of death that, if Bolsonaro is reelected, will implement it. It is the domain of necrophilia, the promotion of death and its derivatives such as hatred and lies.

On the other side of the duel, there is another representative, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. I don’t want to be a manicist who only considers the good on one side and the bad on the other. Good and evil mix. But it must be recognized that in Lula the good gains more expression. It presents a project whose centrality lies in life, starting with those who have the least life: the 30 million hungry, the 110 million with food insufficiency, the millions of unemployed or underemployed, workers and retirees who have seen their rights diminish. the frozen minimum wage.

To summarize, the first thing to do is to guarantee the minimum: food, health, work, education, housing, land to produce food for the people, security and opportunity for those who are historically the descendants of the slave quarters (54% of the population) to be able to enter higher, university or technical education.

To govern is to take care of everyone, but always starting from the humiliated and offended. The inspiration comes from Gandhi who said: doing politics is having a loving gesture towards the people and taking care of common goods. Or in the words of Pope Francis in his Fratelli tutti: politics has to be done with tenderness “which is love if it makes close and concrete, a movement that comes from the heart and reaches the eyes, ears and hands”(n.196). It is the realm of biophilia, of love for life.

These two projects, like a duel, are facing each other in this election. It is up to the citizens to make their discernment: finally which country do we want? Which President is the most bearer of life, means of livelihood, hope and a taste for living? We are not stones that just exist. We don’t just want to exist, we want to live and live in peace with each other.

What we have experienced in the government of the current President was the downgrading of our humanity, the abandonment of thousands surrendered to the virulence of Covid-19 and who died when they could have been saved if it were not for the tenacious official denialism.

What hurts and embarrasses us the most is the lack of composure of the highest authority in the nation, who should live the virtues that he would like to see carried out in the people, such as solidarity, care for one another and for our natural wealth and the promotion of of our science and culture, attacked by him in a vexing way. On the contrary, the spread of hate, fake news, stupidity, profanity and all kinds of discrimination against Afro-descendants, indigenous peoples, quilombolas, women, the poor and LGBT+ among others predominated.

We will only be able to overcome this political-social and necrophilic scourge if, in the duel, we opt for the biophilia project. Here I still use the ex-governor Tarso Genro: “A week before the election, a great political agreement on governance and governability must be made, defeating Jair Bolsonaro in the first round, united around the strongest name to win and lead the nation to the democratic and social destiny that our people deserve”.

That name is emerging as a voter favourite, Lula da Silva. He is a survivor of the great national tribulation, he showed that he was able to humanize politics, taking Brazil off the hunger map and creating social and popular policies that created opportunities for the excluded, for many others and, above all, restored dignity to the impoverished.

The fate of our nation is in our hands. It depends on the option for what takes Brazil out of the ditch into which it was thrown and allows us to reduce the harmful social inequality and, finally, grant us the joyful celebration of life. The next duel election on October 2nd will mean the great test: which Brazil and which President we really want. May the project of biophilia, of love of life, triumph, especially that suffered by the great majority.

Leonardo Boff is a theologian, philosopher and writer and published: Brazil: concluding the refoundation or prolonging dependency, Vozes 2018.