To be or not to be

"Everyone has the obligation to ponder well his own specific traits of character. He must also regulate them adequately and not wonder whether someone else's traits might suit him better. The more definitely his own a man's character is, the better it fits him."


Roman author, orator, & politician (106 BC - 43 BC)

Modern life is motion. A continuous display of events that unfolds at ever increasing speed.

Modern life has short memory. What easy comes easy goes, quickly forgotten so that new things may fill the same space.
Modern life is less. "Less is more" - Mies van der Rohe's (true) aphorism - transformed itself into a wrong dogma that subjects us to the new standards of the 21st Century life: less time, less sleep, less money, less trust, less thinking, less believeing.
Modern life sometimes becomes a mess.
And so it is that some behaviours become acceptable by the majority. Everday life is too short to bother, to try to understand. Every week we hear of something new that makes us angry, ashamed, but in the end, how do we deal with facts that escape our control, that are far from understanding the true reasons that lie beneath certain acts and (un)thinking? In the end we get numbed, and care less.

But so many questions rise on how to deal with these matters. Recent months have been wild with (too) much turbulence, mistrust, mischief. Despite the power of fast knowledge, media surveillance, and more difficult ways to hide the truth, our belief in the values of democracy must not, as hard it may seem, be undermined.
The virtue of the State depends on the virtue of men, said Cicero. So, has virtue collapsed? Has virtue lost its value? What values of character really matter? How do we truely know who someone is? Can - must - events change the way we percieve people? Should we readjust our beliefs only to stand for the greater good? Has persuasion been an ever more deceiving game to win (trust) at any cost? To believe in someone is to acknowledge that flaws are natural no matter what? Where lies good behaviour and good ethics in life and labour? Must we accept bad character more or less than bad politics?
In Brazil a local politician almost won an election with this most outstanding claim: "He steels, but he does". Amazing (the openness) and outrageous (the standard). Can we accept this? Where are the principles of equality and justice, ethics and rightness?

Portugal and the United Kingdom face similar doubts about their leaders. José Sócrates and Gordon Brown however are very different men. When the first has frequently turned lies as common perception; the latter has been recently portrayed as a gang kid. Sócrates has lost internal credibility, and despite the political agenda, he may hold power far more than any one may desire. Brown has always been over the wire, and might lose his job to a Conservative Party that offers in my view some fears.
Both now have, in the eyes of the public, many reasons not to be trustworthy - after all they are politicians - but our judgement of their character has been redefined for what they may in fact be: one is a liar, the other a bully? Then, where stands their body of work?
We expect a Prime-Minister to have the best of most human qualities. Any man - every politician - is defined by his character. The better the man, the better the politician. That is what we want them to be.