We are rich, by decree and luck, at birth. Be grateful. | chronicle

Everything is relative, everything is linked to a perspective, everything depends more on how we look than on what we are looking at. This week, by mere chance, I was confronted with thoughts that assail my ideas and that in my humility seem vital to bring out.

In a short period of time, I found myself arguing in a more or less heated way, with two friends on different days. The first uttered that jargon common to any drunk in a tavern —​ “politicians are all the same, all from the same bag…” —, in a highly critical tone and full of absolute certainties based on cases and anecdotes.

I countered with what strikes me as obvious: “There are fantastic people in politics who are genuinely motivated to fight for what they believe in and who still have to be insulted by every idiot in the country to do their job.” And I added: “If you think you can do better, go there yourself. If you are not going, at least respect who is there.” Notwithstanding, of course, the legitimacy of criticizing person A, B or C, if there are grounds for doing so. But to generalize this kind of ideas is to kill democracy, and to fuel anti-democratic speeches.

A few days later, I was heartbroken watching the news of refugees/migrants killed in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. I was struck by the phrase of a man who looked like an Arab or an Afghan with his features and accent saying: “If we had blue or green eyes, they would come to save us”, while mourning the death of family members who died at his side, according to him, because the rescue and rescue came too late.

While I was thinking about how much truth that sentence contains in itself, a friend called me and, among other things, began to say: “Costa’s ass, it’s Costa’s fault… It’s all wrong… Seven years of Costa… Costa should disappear…”, and so on.

This empty-complaining confrontation kills me. And that’s why I asked him: “Have you seen how lucky you are to be Portuguese? Are you really missing something? (there’s no shortage of them!) Have you not yet realized that of all the goods that belong to you, your Portuguese passport is by far your greatest wealth?”

I’m not making any defense to the Prime Minister, because he didn’t even get my vote. But this “slow down”, and even worse, coming from people who have academic differentiation and who lack nothing in economic and social terms, is something that bothers me.

Should we feel proud or lucky to be Portuguese? We are all a genetic fluke, because our parents’ sperm and eggs are unique and unrepeatable. We are all Portuguese by chance, and not by destiny traced in the stars. And we happen to be born into the richest 5% of the planet.

I feel a certain pride in being Portuguese, which has to do with the solidity of democracy, with freedom, with security, and with the affection built with my family and friends who, deep down, are my notion of home and country. But I feel, above all, lucky, very lucky, for not having any of my family or friends having to cross the Mediterranean in boats, Mexico on foot, or flee Ukraine… Or the worst and most painful thing for me I’ve seen in terms of migration: Ethiopians by the thousands, who cross the Red Sea to Yemen, to then cross on foot this giant country that suffers horrors of war, hunger and human trafficking, with the aim of reaching the alms of the Arabs rich in oil, further north on the peninsula.

Those who were born rich have no idea that they are, because for them “normal” life is considered to be like that, and they despise the existence of the poor. And we Portuguese, luckily, were born rich, very rich.

We are rich, by decree and luck, at birth, and for that be grateful knowing that our greatest wealth is what is written in the passport: Portugal. With the bonus of being an eternal wealth, which no one can take away from us.

Gustavo’s chronicles Ride are sponsored by the Manuel da Mota Foundation in favor of Doctors without Borders

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