The recent events in Olhão, the discussion about immigration after the fire in Mouraria, the human lives lost and the memory of the recent past about the situation of the immigrant community in Alentejo are also marks of our mismatch with reality, which erupts and challenges us vehemently. Also the action of the State and the duty of public responsibility, which having functional levels depending on its autonomy, have an irrefutable hierarchical dimension.
Reflection is required, namely, in situations that, due to their delicacy, political opportunity and ethical and moral dimension, require intervention. The aggression in Olhão configured, in its time and in the political circumstances of that week, the need for prompt action, which the head of state assumed. Necessary? Perhaps, given the ineffectiveness of the State and the political-media noise. Symbolic? Certainly and with impact.
The problem of immigration continues as an open wound, not only in Portugal, but in the world as well. average denounce. The collective feeling of the host societies oscillates between strangeness and fear in the face of different cultures and habits and the recognition of the economic value and necessity of immigrants’ work to perform tasks that natives refuse to do, their contribution to demographic balance and sustainability of Social Security systems in the face of the demographic winter. And in the face of the frequent undignified exploitation of work in conditions unfit for a civilized society, as has become dramatically clear in the face of collective indifference.
These are questions that demand consistent policies, with seriousness, rigor and without demagoguery. Not just rescuing wretched of the earth who flee from multiple tyrannies, misery and suffering, but to provide those we receive with the rights of citizenship and decent conditions of reception and work, in a timely and useful manner. And effectively combat all human trafficking schemes that unfortunately thrive. Fertile ground for populism, on either side of the political barricade, which, appealing to primary emotion, prevent reflection and serenity. And a question is urgently imposed: have the State’s political leaders done what is necessary or enough to address the problems that periodically erupt with drama in the civic conscience?
We hope and demand so. The moral generosity that the President’s gesture entailed will certainly be inspiring, but it cannot serve to excuse or cover up, as diaphanous cloak, errors and shortcomings in the public, administrative, judicial and political services responsible for receiving immigrants. Could it be that, in the comfort of conformism and indifference, the action of the head of state is a spiritual panacea or a challenge? The importance and value of symbolic action are fundamental in Politics. But when reviewing, in my mind, all this complex problem, in immigration, but also in housing, health and education, in the drama of sexual abuse, which it is necessary to know in all its dimensions in Portuguese society, with courage and determination, to prevent and treat them without hesitation or tergiversation, I recalled the quote adapted from François La Rochefoucauld: if hypocrisy is the homage that the addiction premains to virtue, symbolic action is the price that ideology pays for inaction!
This is the great challenge for the difficult times we live in: decency and action, organization and coherence. For values, in a modern and progressive society. So that inaction does not prevail and hypocrisy does not triumph.