What is it about polarization that comes so naturally to humans? In countries where the culture and the sense of nation revolves around soccer, kids are taught about extremes early on. They learn to love their team, to have themed birthday parties with the colors that represent them and to cry when they lose or – with an unexpected, last minute goal – win.
|Cartagena, Columbia – Soccer in the square – Gary C. Tognoni|
Soccer fan’s passion only grows stronger when there is a common rival – usually another team from the same city. This rivalry, built on year after year of competition, helps to cement our own passion for our team. From a young age we are taught, not only to love a team and its colors, but also to despise the rival team and everything related to it. As we grow old, we get less excited about our wins than about the other team’s losses. We don´t question this passion for our team and the dislike for its rival. It is what it is because it has been like that as long as we can remember. We don´t ask ourselves if it is right or wrong, and we take extreme action in order to defend or root for our colors.
|Montevideo, Uruguay – The match – Greta Schölderle Moller|
A few foster and even encourage this hatred for the sole purpose of filling their pockets with money. They make use of an organized subculture of hinchas (fans) that are so lost in this misconception of “passion” that they end up killing other fans out of an idea of “respect” for the team that they have come to idolize, in order to fulfill their self-created sense of importance. This type of polarization is easily recognized. Is either black or white, there is no place for grey. This conception will remain the same throughout our lives and we will transfer it as it is to the next generation. What happened in the final of the Libertadores Cup in November of 2018, between Boca and River, is a sad yet poignant example of this negative polarization (one of the team’s buses was attacked by fans).
|Iquitos, Peru – Belen market – Jess Kraft|
But what happens when this polarization takes place within ourselves? When, over the course of some years, we turn from defending one extreme to supporting the exact opposite? This is a recurrent trend in South America and it has been more noticeable since the beginning of the 21st century. After decades of right-wing governments on the continent, things began to change. Disappointed with the economy and social policies, left wing movements in various countries started to become more and more popular, and an increasing number of followers began to demand change. Finally, 20 years ago, the shift towards the left wing started in Venezuela and other countries soon followed, establishing a new cycle of social policies and a left-wing economic approach.
|Santa Clara, Cuba – Communication – Ludovic Farine|
In the strongest economies of South America, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, one left-wing term was followed by another, with candidates beating their opponents by major differences. This was considered a huge victory for those who had fought to have the right to democratically vote in favor of the left. Let us not forget that during the 70s South America suffered an epidemic of widespread right-wing dictatorships in the greater context of the Cold War. During that time, political expression against the dictatorship was forbidden regardless of the party it represented and many of those who showed any communist or socialist tendencies were persecuted, tortured and killed. This left a deep mark in South American societies as a reminder to never have their liberties taken again. Therefore, after all the struggles and following a huge financial crisis in the region, people turned to the left-wing and celebrated its success, hoping for a better future with equal opportunities and less poverty.
|Olinda, Brazil – Celebrating the Frevo carnival – Adam Gregor|
But over the years a change in tide began as people´s hopes were met with disappointment, and the dreams of a just society were destroyed by incompetence, cronyism and corruption on a larger scale. People’s discontent has become evident during the presidential elections in Chile and Argentina, where a moderate right-wing party was elected, and in the Organization of American States’ permanent calls for the Venezuelan government to be transparent.
In Brazil, where scandals have hit so many high-profile politicians and the investigation regarding Odebrecht is still continuing, the soil was fertile for the cultivation of change as Brazilians were shocked by the corruption and white-collar crimes committed by those they had believed in. The economy was also under real stress, and criminality was perceived to be the highest in decades. The decision to host the World Cup in soccer and the Olympics in 2014 and 2016 respectively gave rise to a feeling of hopelessness among the people because they felt that money could be invested in more important things.
|Sao Paulo, Brazil – The Mercado Municipal – R.M. Nunes|
In October 2018, Bolsonaro won the presidential election in Brazil. It was met both with joy and despair by the leaders of the region and the world. This article doesn´t aim to judge whether Bolsonaro was the better choice or even to criticize the election. My intention is to leave all politics aside and focus on the human beings behind it, their nuances, their fears and the light they needed to keep going. Bolsonaro is, without a doubt, a far right-wing leader with strong opinions about economics, justice, feminism and minorities. Despite his alleged and confirmed statements regarding women, blacks, homosexuals and other sexual orientations, many representatives of these minorities not only did vote for him, but also defended Bolsonaro against his detractors.
|Brazil – Yemanja party – Vinicius Tupinamba|
What is interesting about this election is that Bolsonaro won with more than half of the votes, meaning that a large number of those votes came from people who had voted for the left wing in previous elections. One cannot help but wonder what could have brought them to vote not only against their principles but, in many cases, against their own beliefs? Are we all extremists in our own inner selves? This phenomenon isn´t different from what is happening in the rest of South America, where only Maduro remains as the last major representative of socialism. I strongly believe that like everything in this world, we, as individuals, perceive things differently depending on the circumstances and according to our unique experiences. Therefore, I don´t think this polarization responds to anything other than a change of circumstances. This perception varies depending on the receiver: poor, gay, rich, woman, man, religious, atheist, among others. The important thing to bear in mind is that mostly everyone, especially when there is no personal gain, does what they truly believe is best. Hence, we can extrapolate this to the recent changes in the South American region, where many minorities set aside their individuality and voted for something that they thought was the best option given the circumstances, even if that meant selflessly relegating themselves to second place.
|Cartagena, Columbia – Gathering – Mikadun (Shutterstock)|
The ever-changing circumstances and the capacity to keep questioning ourselves, even when we believe that we have the right answer, is what makes us human, and fortunately what will make us evolve into more caring societies despite those who think mostly of themselves. Sometimes though, certain extreme ideas are embedded in ourselves, without questioning and without reason, as in the first case with soccer where there is only enough place for hatred and hostility. Fortunately, something that took so long to build can be transformed quite easily, if we only learned to be more respectful of our fellow peers, and whatever principles each individual decides to defend and live by.
In summary, polarization is a part of human nature. We can either chose to analyze it and draw conclusions to make positive changes in our behavior, or take it to be a revealed truth and live by it accordingly, knowing that we will be an accomplice to hatred and retrogression.
Photo 1: Argentina – Viedma Glacier – Jackman Chiu (Unsplash)
Photo 2: Cartagena, Columbia – Soccer in the square – Gary C. Tognoni (Shutterstock)
Photo 3: Montevideo, Uruguay – The match – Greta Schölderle Moller (Unsplash)
Photo 4: Iquitos, Peru – Belen market – Jess Kraft (Shutterstock)
Photo 5: Santa Clara, Cuba – Communication – Ludovic Farine (Shutterstock)
Photo 6: Olinda, Brazil – Celebrating the Frevo carnival – Adam Gregor (Shutterstock)
Photo 7: Sao Paulo, Brazil – The Mercado Municipal – R.M. Nunes (Shutterstock)
Photo 8: Brazil – Yemanja party – Vinicius Tupinamba (Shutterstock)
Photo 9: Cartagena, Columbia – Gathering – Mikadun (Shutterstock)
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes
Alencar, Joana. Lack of Social Trust – Brazil. January 2019.
Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.
Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed
Alencar, Joana. Uncertainty – Our Spirit – Brazil. November 2018.
Awdejuk, Pawel. Niepewność – The Road to Freedom – Poland. July 2018.
Bell, Sarah. The Bushfire Drive – Australia. July 2018.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. Twenty Plus Years. August 2018.
Cajoto, Christina. The Trajectory of Life – España. August 2018.
Castañeda, Martha Corzo. Worried Workers – Peru. February 2018.
Cooleridge, Tweeney. Uncertainty in the Abstract – Slovakia. March 2018.
Cordido, Veronica. The Crib of Uncertainty – Venezuela. January 2018.
Dastan, S.A. Uncertain Waters – Turkey. March 2019.
Deiana, Sara. The Dark Side of Perfection. September 2018.
Electra P. Aβεβαιότητα: The Enemy of Romantic Relationships – Greece. February 2018
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. Compromise – Uruguay. March 2018
Fischer, Kristin. Talking about Cancer – Germany. September 2018.
Gómez, Javier. Uncharted Bliss. October 2018
Goumiri, Abdennour. Uncertainty Is All There Is – France. February 2018.
Guerrero, Marilin. Crossing the Uncertain Path of Life – Cuba. February 2018.
Guillot, Iuliana. Preparing for Change – Romania. June 2018.
Huihao, Mu. Going the Uncertain Way. July 2017.
Husaini, Maha. Inshallah – Jordan. December 2018
Israyelyan, Mania. 30 Years of Anoroshutyun – Armenia. December 2018.
Julber, Lillian. What Will Tomorrow Bring? – Chile. July 2018.
Kanunova, Nigina. Metamorphoses in Modern Life. June 2018.
Kingsley, Anastasia. Expect the Unexpected. November 2018.
Konbaz, Rahaf. So You Say You Want A Revolution – Syria. March 2018.
Korneeva, Kate. One We – Russia. April 2018.
Krnceska, Sofija. No Name Country – Macedonia. May 2018.
Lassa, Verónica. The Old Eastern Books of Uncertainty – Argentina. May 2018.
Lozano, Gabriela. El cuchillo de la incertidumbre : Piercing Uncertainty – México. January 2018.
Marti, Sol. A Thought Falling – Spain and Germany. December 2018.
Pang, Lian. Now or Later? October 2018.
Phelps, Jade. Healing Journey Pulls Us Apart – America. June 2018.
Protić, Aleksandar. Environmental Uncertainty. August 2018.
Romano, Mavi. An Uncertain Democracy – Spain. April 2018
Ranaldo, Mary. Incerto or Flexible: Italia and UK. March 2018.
Ray, Sanjay Kumar. Once upon a Time in a Queue – India. November 2018.
Çakır, Peren. Building a Future in Times of Uncertainty – Argentina and Turkey. May 2018.
Sanmartín, Virginia. Qué Será, Será – Spain. June 2018.
Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.
Sariñana, Alejandra González. A Brighter Future? – Mexico. December 2018.
Skobic, Aleksandar. Genetic Code Name: Unique – Bosnia and Herzegovina. December 2018.
Sekulić, Jelena. Nesigurnost of the Past, Present and Future – Serbia. June 2018.
Sem, Sebastião. Vagrant Poets. September 2018.
Sepi, Andreea. Uncertainties Galore – Germany. April 2018.
Sevunts, Nane. From Uncertainty to Newness. November 2018.
Sitorus, Rina. When Uncertainty Reaches the Land of Certainty – Indonesia and the Netherlands. May 2018.
Trojnar, Kamila. Ephemeral. October 2018.
Quintero, Jonay. The Fear of Not Knowing – España. January 2018.
Uberti, Alejandra Baccino. Adventure – Uruguay. September 2018.
Vuka. Lacking Uncertainty in Political Culture – Serbia. April 2018.
Wallis, Toni. Living for Today – South Africa. October 2018.
Younes, Ghadir. Economic Uncertainty in Life – Lebanon. Part 38.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. LGBQT – Russia. August 2018.
The Anthology of Global Instability
Alvisi, Andrea. Political and Social Instability: The Brexit Mess. May 2017.
Bahras. Unstable Air Pollution – Unstable Solutions: Mongolia. June 2017.
Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. Hybrid War: Ukraine. December 2018.
Borghi, Silvana Renée. Living in Inestabilidad. September 2017.
Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.
Çakır, Peren. On the Road in Search of Stability: Argentina and Turkey. June 2017.
Casas, Marilin Guerrero. Emotional Estabilidad: The Key To a Happy Life – Cuba. December 2017.
Charles-Dee. Social Onstabiliteit – South Africa. December 2017.
Cordido, Verónica. Instability, a Stable Reality: Venezuela and America. April 2017.
Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.
D’Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.
Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.
Ellie. Angry Folk: Korea. June 2017.
Farid, Isis Kamal. Stability Is Not An Option – Egypt. August 2017.
Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.
Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.
Ghadir, Younes. Political Instability – Lebanon. September 2017.
Gómez, Javier. The Way of No Way – Argentina and the UK. December 2017.
Gotera, Jay R. In Flux Amid Rising Local and Regional Tensions – Philippines. November 2017.
Guillot, Iulianna. Starting and Staying in Instability – Moldova. October 2017.
Gjuzelov, Zoran. The Нестабилност of Transition – Macedonia. November 2017.
Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.
Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability – Spain. February 2017.
Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.
Konbaz, Rahaf. The Castaways: On the Verge of Life – Syria. August 2017.
Korneeva, Ekaterina. Instability… or Flexibility? July 2017.
Kreutzer, Karina. Hidden Instabilität – Ecuador and Switzerland. December 2017.
Krnceska, Sofija. Decades of Economic Instability – Macedonia. September 2017.
Kutscher, Karin. Inestabilidad in Interpersonal Relationships – Chile. October 2017.
Larousse, Annabelle. Legal and Emotional Instability in a Transgender Life – Ireland. August 2017.
Larrosa, Mariela. The Very Stable Spanish Instability. April 2017.
Lobos, José. Political Instability: Guatemala. May 2017.
Lozano, Gabriela. Estructuras Inestables: Vignettes of a Contemporary, Not Quite Collapsing Country – Mexico. November 2017.
MacSweeny, Michael. A House on a Hill – America. October 2017.
Mankevich, Tatiana. The Absence of Linguistic Cтабiльнасць: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.
McGuiness, Matthew. Loving Lady Instability. November 2017.
Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.
Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.
Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.
Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.
Nevosadova, Jirina. Whatever Happens, It Is Experience. May 2017.
Olisthoughts. Stable Instability – Moldova. October 2017.
Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.
Payan, Rodrigo Arenas. Impotence – Venezuela and Columbia. September 2017.
Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.
Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.
Protić, Aleksandar. Demographic Instability: Serbia. July 2017.
Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.
Sekulić, Jelena. Нестабилност/Nestabilnost in Language – Serbia. August 2017.
Sepa, Andreea. Instabilitate vs. Stabilität: How Important Are Cultural Differences? – Romania and Germany. September 2017.
Shunit. Economic Instability: Guinea and Gambia. April 2017.
Shalunova, Marina. Language Instability: Russia. June 2017
Sitorus, Rina. Instabilitas Toleransi: Indonesia. May 2017.
Skrypka, Vladyslav. National нестійкість: Ukraine. July 2017.
Staniulis, Justas. Nestabilumas of Gediminas Hill and the Threat to the Symbol of the State: Lithuania. July 2017.
Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.
Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.
Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.
Yücel, Sabahattin. The Instability of Turkish Education and its Effect on Culture and Language: Turkey. July 2017.
Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. Instability in Relationships: Russia. April 2017.
CW 5 – Germany and Romania – Andreea Sepi
CW 6 – South Africa – Sarah Leah Pimentel
CW 7 – Bolivia – Osvaldo Montano
CW 8 – Spain – Jonay Quintero Hernandez
CW 9 – Indonesia – Rina Sitorus
CW 10 – Mexico – Alejandra Gonzalez Sarinana
CW 11 – Armenia – Armine Asryan
CW 12 – Serbia – Vuka Mijuskovic
CW 13 – Peru – Monica Valenzuela
CW 14 – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Aleksandar Skobic
CW 15 – Argentina – Julieta Spirito
CW 16 – Italy – Mary Ranaldo
CW 17 – Lebanon – Ghadir Younes
CW 18 – Cuba – Marilin Guerrero Casas
CW 19 – Ukraine – Evgeny Bondarenko
CW 20 – Uruguay – Andrea da Silva Escandell
CW 21 – Spain – Jazz Williams
CW 22 – Armenia – Mania Israyelyan
CW 23 – Poland – Pawel Awdejuk
CW 24 – Balkans – Aleksandar Protic
CW 25 – Italy – Daniela Cannarella
CW 26 – Serbia – Jelena Sekulic
CW 27 – Tajikistan – Nigina Kanunova
CW 28 – Portugal – Nuno Rosalino
CW 29 – Uruguay – Lillian Julber
CW 30 – Argentina – Javier Gomez
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed