On 30 December final 12 months, Jair Bolsonaro misplaced to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil’s presidential election, making Bolsonaro the primary incumbent to fail to be re-elected in Brazil since redemocratisation. Simply over every week later, Brazil’s congress, presidential palace and supreme court docket had been invaded by hundreds of supporters of Bolsonaro. They proceeded to smash the home windows, artworks and computer systems of the buildings that symbolise Brazilian democracy. I point out this not as a result of the invasion of Brasília made me joyful (it didn’t), or as a result of Lula’s election made me joyful (it did), however as a result of Lula’s marketing campaign slogan was sem medo de ser feliz, which interprets actually as “with out concern of being joyful”, or, put extra succinctly, “unafraid of happiness”.
In his first speech as president, Lula started by promising each Brazilian three meals a day, a job, and entry to healthcare and training. He went on to vow zero deforestation, indigenous land rights and the recreation of the ministries for racial equality, girls and tradition. Lula’s slogan acknowledges one thing we may be loth to confess. That happiness – this supposedly intangible, romantic factor – is immediately linked to probably the most quantifiable and decidedly unethereal features of lives: our materials circumstances.
It might be an apparent factor to say, however it’s our materials circumstances that decide how lengthy and the way onerous our lives are, what we will do with them and the place. Sem medo de ser feliz argues for higher materials circumstances not merely for their very own sake – or for the sake of elevated productiveness or equity – however for the sake of happiness.
It was not a on condition that issues can be this fashion. My Brazilian mom and British father married in London in 1988, the 12 months Brazil handed a brand new structure after twenty years of army dictatorship. I used to be born in 1992 and grew up surrounded by post-cold battle political optimism: one of many earliest issues I can bear in mind is my reception lecturers celebrating Labour’s victory in 1997. Till the monetary crash of 2008, the defining temper of my childhood and adolescence was that issues might solely get higher.
Nonetheless, as an grownup, the fabric circumstances skilled by my era are worse than these skilled by our dad and mom at our age. Most of us hire at a time when rented housing has turn out to be tougher to safe (bidding wars and funds of a 12 months’s hire upfront are actually commonplace in London) and of more and more low high quality (the Occasions studies that solely 10% of flatshares in London have a communal space). Inflation is rising and wages will not be, and in lots of sectors pensions are additionally being slashed. Childcare provision is collapsing and the local weather disaster solely worsens.
Once I consider myself and my buddies, it’s apparent that our happiness is set by our materials circumstances. One pal can’t stay on the identical continent as his long-term companion as a result of he doesn’t earn sufficient to sponsor her visa. One other places off having a child as a result of it’s too costly. One other has been evicted for the second time in a 12 months as a result of their landlord has determined to promote. Others spend the working day in discomfort as a result of they’ll’t afford to warmth their houses.
These sorts of tales will not be unique to younger individuals; they’ll be acquainted to individuals of all ages, particularly individuals with dependants, individuals who don’t personal their very own houses and shouldn’t have household wealth. When it comes to happiness, the impact is each day-to-day deprivation, and one thing qualitatively totally different, extra extended. We’re much less free.
Lula’s victory has made me really feel freedom is feasible. His technique was to construct a broad coalition of Black, Indigenous, homosexual, bisexual, transgender and working-class Brazilians. He did this by promising to enhance the fabric circumstances of all these teams. The logic right here was the other of austerity-style shortage, which pits one marginalised group in opposition to one other, whether or not that’s trans and cis girls, or working-class individuals from migrant- and non-migrant backgrounds. The logic of Lula’s broad coalition is that if probably the most weak in society are higher off, everybody else will probably be higher off too. It asks Brazilians to dream of freedom for one another – happiness for all – as an alternative of preventing one another for scraps.
Happiness then to me is, firstly, a case of fabric circumstances – of fine, heat housing, training, healthcare and a job. As a result of having these materials wants met means freedom to stay nicely and as you would like.
The best way I see it, sem medo de ser feliz means being unafraid of the happiness of others too. It means letting go of the concern that if the fabric circumstances of one other group of individuals enhance that the group I belong to will undergo. To me, being unafraid of happiness means believing in freedom for us all.