A video on social media shows a man filming himself on a walk by the sea. Next to him police officers who questioned him because he had left without a protective mask. The man uses the video to challenge the agents, invokes his alleged superiority in interpreting the law (he said he kept the distance), lowers his condition by being paid with his taxes, allegedly denies his authority and serves as a video tool for reporting suspected abuse. Under normal circumstances, this man’s demeanor would deserve unreserved condemnation. However, these days there was no shortage of people to support his insolence in front of authority.
We live in dangerous days when efficiency is at stake not only in the fight against the pandemic, but also the model of social relationships with one another and with the law. Impatience, suffering and the strains of crises have always been opportunities for rupture. The lack of control over the pandemic (the days of which fortunately seem to be numbered), the cases of abusive vaccinations, the government’s failure and propaganda, the opportunism of the opposition, the exaggerations of the press and most importantly, fatigue are beginning to contaminate the population. Trust, nihilism and incitement to extreme behavior.
In a contemporary opinion article in PÚBLICO, the sociologist Jorge Caleiras analyzed this phenomenon and came to the conclusion that it is “insidious damage that ultimately helps to creep democracy inside”. In a fertile ground for demagogy, manipulation and disbelief, “everything wrong” is just as dangerous as “everything under control”.
Trust is gained through the responsiveness of the authorities and transparency. The government, the opposition, academics or journalists have a great responsibility here. But the search for the facts is also necessary for those who claim that there is no exploitation in Portugal, that vaccinations are a disaster, that the health authorities are incompetent, that all journalists are being sold, that the pandemic is easy to stop, or that Country in general is a sham ruled by corrupt politicians. There have of course been unfortunate mistakes or unfortunate behavior, but every day we have statistical data on vaccines or exalted examples from doctors, teachers or ordinary citizens proving that the chaos in a “unfortunate” country is a fiction.
In such a situation, it would be impossible for everything to go well and not have any errors. If converted into a criminal record of politicians or a certificate of incompetence from the Portuguese it can satisfy the ego of the wise pessimists – but it gives a skewed picture of the country and undermines the confidence it takes to get out of this alley.