From the website of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil
An Open Letter to the people of God.
By Prof. Dr. Dermi Azevedo
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!
The Brazilian society is still in shock after the scenes registered in the old centre of São Paulo in a region known as “Cracolandia” (Crack City), where dozens of youth and adults, men and women, live in a permanent situation of death; this cruel scene contrasts deeply with the nature of the human being from a Christian view, which is in likeness to God.
In the face of this situation the EACB is called to speak out, though the Human Rights Committee, with an aim to wake up the consciences of those that have been sedated by advertising and an incontrollable use of media messages which transform everything into saleable goods, including the human soul.
This letter is especially for the People of God who congregate in the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (EACB) and all the sister churches in the ecumenical movement.
The social fact of drug addiction.
The phenomenon of drug-trafficking and consuming is a striking figure in the world economy. In wealthy countries as well as countries on the outskirts of the international economic system, this mortal trade is prospering more and more. The repressive and preventative apparatus of the State are not capable of reaching the root of the problem, since, for the most part, they are trapped in a model that consecrates having as the only paradigm for human existence.
While the U.S is theoretically against drug-trafficking, it is also among the largest consumers of drugs on the planet. It uses its foreign policy to spread its political, cultural, and religious “values”, as it disseminates systematically the opposite values of self-centeredness and private property with no social ends, of prejudice, of racism, of sexism, in an unlimited commitment to an economic model of privatization which does not cover the basic needs a person is entitled to to live decently.
The repressive organs carry out their role as ideological organs of the State, but only manage to clear the ice on a problem with multiple and complex reasons, which come from the nature of the capitalist economic system. The trafficking and consuming of drugs comes from the same source, which is the character of an exclusive system that concentrates wealth and is based on radical selfishness.
The monster of drug addiction spreads its attractive tentacles throughout various aspects of life. It affects families, schools, churches, friendships and almost all other community environments.
The issue of drugs today is also linked to the powerful dominance of the cultural industry, characterized as the main vehicle in generating the alienation. In this context, the media produces and reproduces the image of a broken person (cf. Albert Camus), unidimentional (cf. Marcuse e Habermas), integrated (cf. Umberto Eco), a wolf to his fellow man (cf. Hobbes).
The Failure of Repression
The repressive policies against drug trafficking and against drug consumption have proven to be failures. The State spends millions of reals in random repressive actions which are generally badly planned and deformed by the corruption involved, including in some sectors of the Police at all levels.
Police action is often transformed into a kind of show portrayed on popular television programs. The sociological fact of the crime also becomes a highly valued product on the market of the media consumer’s emotions. They are also used as a platform for the propaganda of some candidates in election time
Once the campaigns and the blitz have passed, everything goes back to “normal”, that is, the crack cities go back to their daily routine, the Police arrest a few drug-traffickers, the press makes public the names of new and more lethal drugs and the voices of common sense applaud these novelties because they kill the addicts faster. In the carnivals the drug dealers are worshipped and applauded like popular cultural figures..
The Involvement of Civil Society
In the face of this scenario organizations of the Civil Society carried out preventative and temporary actions. The results are tangible, in many cases, but are not enough to break down the fundamental structures of this system of death. They need more human and material resources. Many of the coordinators of these organizations regard the State as being responsible for the resolution of these problems, and they end up omitting themselves.
The Involvement of the Churches
The Christian churches, for their part, mostly carry out a role of creating some kind of meaning for this tragic phenomenon. The opinions of their leaders vary between idealism and realism. On the one hand, they row against the current, defending the possibility of a world without drugs. On the other hand, they are realistic when they confirm, in a courageous and persistent manner, that it will only be possible to beat the roots of addiction with policies that revert the system of anti-values present in our society.
What can be done
The cry of the victims of narcotrafficking, (the addicted and their families, and the various figures that interact in this process) rises to the heavens. As a response, the voice of God who created us in his image and similarity can be heard. And he asks us: “what have you done to your brother?” More than ever, it is up to the churches to put into practice its prophetic mission, demanding urgent and effective action from society and from the authorities regarding this chaotic situation.
In order to do this it is necessary and urgent to organize debates and prepare studies on the theme of drugs with an aim to correctly diagnose the problem and define more adequate strategies to face it.
The most specific contribution of the churches within this tragic panorama is that of presenting Jesus Christ as our only Savior and Liberator. With his death and with his resurrection Jesus wanted to demonstrate his love for humanity and presented the concrete possibility of a world of justice and peace, free of sin and of all violence.
To be a Christian in the beginning of the 21st Century means, among other challenges, to denounce any structure that reduces the human being to a simple object. One of these death generating structures is the gigantic multifaceted narcotics machine. Facing this real Leviathan, there can be no omission or passiveness.
Cracolandia is a microscopic reference to an intrinsically bad system which turns the human being into a mere instrument of buying and selling. Its deeper causes should be searched for constantly and persistently and they should be attacked with courage and urgency.
By Prof. Dr. Dermi Azevedo
National Human Rights Committee
Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (EACB)
General Secretary’s Office,
São Paulo, Brazil.
16 February 2012