I’m not 100% on this yet but I’m seriously considering going back to the States at some point before mid-2013. My main reason has become the Brazilian’s principal complaint: frustration towards a system that continuously fails the citizen (and, if I’m being honest, the Lei do Gérson is my other reason). I understand that in a society where the State doesn’t pull it’s own weight (do what it should), the people have to fill that gap and the way of doing that is by being inventive, thinking on your feet and having your eyes open to opportunities. I would expect this to happen anywhere in the world where the State doesn’t do its job well. The cause is the State, the symptom is it affects how the people have to operate.
Lets liken what I just said to driving in Brazil. If someone starts driving here and follows all the traffic laws, goes the speed limit, etc, it is that person who will cause an accident. Why? Because, if you’ve spent time here, you’ve seen practically everyone on the road driving on the divider between two lanes (on a one-way avenue), speeding (ever been on a bus here?), driving through red lights, etc. In other words, the majority must lean towards doing one thing or the other, to follow the rules or not. It can’t be 50/50 (ie, some following 100% of the law and the other half not), that would be too chaotic. But ‘all or nothing’ (law-abiding vs. ‘controlled chaos’, if you will) provides some guidelines for anyone new coming on the road. That person that follows all the laws of the road is restricted to asking themselves ‘yes or no’ questions and then acting accordingly. But the people who do as others do, they can operate on an open-ended basis within the current system.
As much as I love and respect many aspects about Brazil, its culture and its people, I’m not sure if I can continue to envision myself in a place where the State consistently fails its people (though I must say, being extremely law-abiding, such as the direction that the US is going in with the increasing ‘police state’, doesn’t put a smile on my face either). At that point it becomes choosing between extreme fluidity and extreme solidity, neither of which are optimal.
The famous Brazilian anthropologist Roberto DaMatta expands on some of these ideas I’ve been talking about in a video (in PT) on “Rituals of Identity & Ritualistic Identities”, starting at 88:38 (fast-forward to that point in the video).