Getting past the attitude

Insecure people always have an attitude and that is true for everyone, everywhere. The first thing I noticed when I set foot in Brazil was the insecurity. This insecurity leads to the impossibility of accepting criticism because you feel attacked. This is also true for most Brazilians, also. There are some major and almost life-threatening things that they simply do not accept:

De Jijoca para Acaraú
De Jijoca para Acaraú (Photo credit: deltafrut)

1. They drive very badly (the accident rate is one of the highest, if not the highest in the world. Period. Drive for 10 minutes just to see the horrors committed on the streets. The way they drive does not match their so-called “friendliness”, it´s almost creepy, like split-personality creepy)

2. Most of them can´t speak English but insist they can (this is going to be a major problem when the world cup-olympic games saga starts. Learn or die, there´s not other option. The world is not going to learn Portuguese. For more information, check “US Universities reject Brazilian scholarship students because their English is unacceptable”, and other articles that have been popping up almost daily in the news)

3. The jeitinho brasileiro is not a good thing (there is no “we” in the jeitinho. Although most die to prove that it´s positive, related to being creative. Real creativity is very different. Just to give an example, you would never hear someone advertise they use the jeitinho in their business or to solve serious problems (politicians, for example). For Brazil to start thinking as a nation, as people with the same objectives, they have to eradicate the jeitinho and use real, all-encompassing, all-including creativity. Instead of inventing a great excuse to jump a queue or be attended first, while treating everyone else like an idiot, use that creativity to complain about the long queues and benefit everyone. Well, that would also require courage.

4. No one cares about serious social problems. (Again, as Brazilians are mostly me-me and family-me, they don´t really care about anything unless if affects them directly. They are an emotional lot, so they really suffer when their loved one is hit by a drunk driver, but until that happens they laugh off the 3+ whiskeys they had before stumbling into their cars. No, it´s not everyone, but the one´s who don´t drink before driving laugh at the ones who do and do nothing about it, so it´s the same thing. In summary, the social problems they suffer are the result of negligence or denial)

Yes, Brazilians are friendly and kind and I love them to pieces although they probably hate me by now, but touch on any of these topics and get your stones ready because they are fiercely defensive and that attitude you didn´t see before will jump up in your face.


5 thoughts on “Getting past the attitude

  1. Thanks for the insight. Could you provide a link to “US Uni­ver­si­ties reject Brazil­ian schol­ar­ship stu­dents because their Eng­lish is unac­cept­able”. Google didn’t help


  2. You have touched on a few of my own favorite frustrations about life in Brasil. There are certainly plenty of protests in and around Rio, where I live, but I haven’t seen one yet with “End Jeitinho” signs!

    My basic belief is that people get the government they deserve. For example, the US had Bush, because they deserved him not just for having voted for him but for their failure to educate themselves regarding his past and his agenda, and those he chose as advisors. Whining about the economic situation the US is in now by those who voted for Bush is simply silly. You get what you vote for. Same with Obummer. His largest campaign contributions came from Wall Street, how could anyone expect him to do anything other than support Wall Street? But, in the case of Brasilians I believe they deserve a little slack.

    Brasil is still a young democracy, and a young population. The slack allowance is coming to and end, however, as Brasil now wishes to play with the big boys, hosting the Copa and the Olympics. That means getting serious. It wasn’t all that long ago a French President (I believe DeGaulle) said, “Brasil is not a serious Country”. And he was largely correct at the time.

    Brasilians were taught by and adapted to the military government, and a lot of the bad habits and what worked then, but doesn’t now, is nonetheless still in use today. Jeitinho is but one example. In my view, the “live in the moment and for the moment” lifestyle of many Brasilians can be traced directly back to the military rule. There was but one way to get many things done, jeitinho was it, whether good or bad. Thinking about the future was futile, there was none for most. So, enjoy the moment and don’t think about consequences or accept responsibility. Those character faults exist to this day in many, they are learned from parents and passed down to children by example. They are changing, however slowly. Taking responsibility is a first step.

    I, too, love Brasil and Brasilians and live here by choice. That does not mean I believe things should stay the same, they should definitely not. But, as you accurately point out, it will require more than just an awareness, it will require a higher level of participation in social change and less talking about it over beers. In fact, before Lei Seca here in Rio, I used to tell friends that drunk driving was the national sport in Brasil. Now it appears to be onibus racing, which I consider about as irresponsible as irresponsible gets. I would never own a vehicle in Brasil, to me driving a car here represents a physical expression of a death wish.


    1. Thanks for your comment. I really enjoyed reading it. Yes, I agree that they deserve some slack, but the first step is dropping the attitude and just listening to people who are willing to help and point out the mistakes. No country is perfect, but I want Brazil to be perfect and the attitude just gets in the way every time. I was raised with lots of criticism. Everything we did at home had to be perfect and good points were never praised. All the focus was on the bad, the stuff that had to be corrected, so you could not deny anything. My reaction was to a post I read in another blog where a reader was attacked mercilessly for saying Brazilian drive badly. Don´t they see it? Haven´t they seen the statistics? What´s the point of denying it? Drive properly and that´s it. I also thought the military explanation was great. Thanks. I hadn´t thought of it in that way.


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