Josef Fritzl, the German frozen babies, Isabella and Gloria Maclure. In the days and weeks leading up to the birth of our daughter the international media has been full of some of the most darkly disturbing crimes of abuse within the family. We have probably heard enough now about Josef Fritzl's basement prison and you may have heard about the case of three frozen babies discovered in Germany by their grown brothers and sisters who decided to clear their parents' freezer when they went to look for something to eat.
Brazil has been turned upside down by a crime which my father-in-law says has created a frenzy of public interest like he has never seen before. A father and step-mother were charged last week with the murder of 5 year old Isabella, strangled and then thrown from an apartment window several stories high. What connects all these stories is the fact that the purportrators of the crimes were moderately wealthy, middle class people who had none of the "excuses" that might accompany similar crimes in the favelas or war zones of the world. For me, it shows that the prize of development (which, for many socieities is to aim for middle class wealth-creation and to model themselves on liberal democracies of Europe) leaves gaping holes in "fixing" the human condition. It is a reminder that you cannot tame the potential evil of the human heart even for all the best political, educational and social programmes immaginable.
Having your own daughter born into this kind of news climate has left me asking (at least) three things: how could anyone do any of these things to their own children? How are we even supposed to live in a world where this kind of thing happens? How can I even possibly begin to be a parent to another real, feeling human life? The last question acknowledges that although I am unlikely to commit any crimes on the level of the people above, my best efforts are still thoroughly flawed and my children will have to grow up with the joys and pains, freedoms and traumas of having Dave Maclure as their father. In other words, fingers are pointing at me as much as to anyone else. This is at the basis of my faith as a Christian - all of us fall far short of the perfect standards required of a perfect God. This brings a possible answer to the second question above: how are we even supposed to live in this world? Well, as I see it, we begin to live in this world by looking to our Creator for guidance and salvation. In many ways, I have really struggled to maintain the disciplines of a Christian faith in Brazil mainly because kids knock you off your rhythm so frequently. However, I have never felt closer or more sure of my convictions as a Christian than in witnessing the many miracles that have surrounded the birth of my two children.
Things I miss about England #74: BBC news. As my Dad often says the British press are the best and worst press in the world. But, I'm sure they (save for the tabloids) would have dealt with the Isabella case in a more humane, impartial and level-headed way. The highly sensationalist accounts, the rather shallow journalism, the prime time interviews with the chief suspects and the violent scrum of cameras and microphones that accompanied the hand-cuffed, straight-jacketed parents had more in common with a Hollywood thriller than any John Humphreys Radio 4 piece. The problem was, I believe all this contributed to a mob mentality which resulted in some unfortunate and bizarre behaviour from the public. The apartment block where the killing occurred became a tourist attraction for hundreds of people to go and have their pic taken. Any car that came in or out of the block was set upon with billboards and stones. It was like something out of the Simpsons movie. Most unfortunately, "copy-cat" attempted murders of children allegedly occurred in different areas of Brazil.
Things I love about Brazil #99: soap operas. OK, so I don't really like Brazilian soap operas (except to help with my Portuguese) although Brazilians are famous for them, especially in China and Portugal apparently. Soap Operas here differ from the English variety by being always about the wealthiest sectors of society (Coronation Street / East Enders this is not) and they have a fixed duration usually of several weeks or months (Coronation Street / East Enders this is not). Anyway, the media circus surrounding the Isabella case utilised and pandered to Brazilians best soap opera-loving sentiments...
Gloria's status update: Gloria is sleeping. I've updated my post from a few days ago to include my daughter's weight and size details - important elements of information which some people like to know and I didn't have on me at the time.
Coming soon. The true story of how a famous Brazilian pop singer made a special trip to visit us in our home in order to see Gloria.
Laptop trouble. My laptop died a death a few months back and now the screen on Rachel's has gone on the blink. Until we get it repaired I am using my mother-in-laws to write these posts. What I'm saying is, my posts may be intermitent and sporadic in the next few weeks so bare with us! Stay tuned.