A Socratic Walk by Monk Betto – (adt)

picture by “donduran” ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/donduran/3128419794/

While traveling through the Orient I kept contact with monks in Tibet, Mongolia, Japan and China. Men were quiet, sober and at peace in their saffron robes.
The other day I watched the movement of the São Paulo airport: a waiting room full of executives with mobile phones, worried, anxious, often eating more than they should. It made me think: Which of the two models produces happiness?
We’re building super-men/women fully equipped but emotionally infantilized. A progressive city in São Paulo State has, in 1960, six libraries and one fitness center, today is sixty-three gyms and only three bookstores! I have nothing against working out the body but I worry about the spirit workout.
Today, the word is virtuality. Everything is virtual. We are virtual mystical, religious virtual, virtual citizens. And we are also ethically virtual … Sunday is the national day of coletive imbecilization . Media can not sell happiness, so it sells the illusion that happiness is the result of the sum of pleasures. Who could resist, increases neurosis. The challenge is to begin to see how good it feels to be free of all this global conditioning, neoliberal, consumerist. Thus, we can live better… Three conditions are indispensable for good mental health: friendships, self-esteem, lack of stress. 
In the Middle Ages, cities acquired status by building a cathedral; today, we build shopping centers. It is curious that most malls have stylized architectural lines of cathedrals and in there you feel a sense of paradise: there are no beggars, street children, filth on the sidewalks…. You enter those cloisters to the sound of Gregorian postmodern (that little song of hope dentist), observe the various niches, with chapels with all those venerable objects of consumption, acolytes by beautiful priestesses and end all in the eucharist at the Mc Donald …
I often warn clerks around me at the store’s door with the premises: “I’m just doing a socratic walk.” Then I explain: “Socrates, a Greek philosopher, also liked to rest his head going through the commercial center of Athens. When sellers harassment, he replied: I’m just observing how many things are there that do not need to be happy!”

Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, better known as Frei Betto is a Brazilian writer, political activist, liberation theologist and Dominican friar. He was imprisoned for four years by the military dictatorship for smuggling people out of Brazil. His incarceration was part of an ongoing series of attacks by the government on members of the Roman Catholic Church. “Batismo de Sangue” is his most famous book.

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