Columnist - Professor Alan Bica

Historical Heritage: What does it represent?

Two weeks after the fateful day, when the National Museum of Quinta da Boa Vista in Rio de Janeiro suffered a fire of great proportions, there are many questions, many doubts and many unfortunate certainties. The first of these confirmations is that, the historical patrimony has little value for the Brazilian population. This fact has its origin in the difficulty we have to look at the past and face everything that jumps to the eye, be it good or bad. Expressions like "those who live in the past are museum", "old is your past", clearly demonstrate the central idea that permeates the minds of most people everyday: we should not look to the past. We should only think about the now, the now. "How long do I have to think about the past, when the month's bills are knocking on my door," is a catch phrase in the speech of many people who believe in many of these ideas. Okay, but then they should not think about today? In the Now? Must they always be with their eyes turned to the distant moments of human history?

No historian, not the most dedicated anthropologist or museologist, or any other scientist who has to do this continuous process of "looking back", stands his whole time with his eyes in this direction. Even before anything else, he is not there, but here, in the present moment, living with the same everyday problems as any other person. They all have accounts, personal and family problems, daily and daily confrontations that need to be overcome, in the same way as any other Brazilian. But a difference exists: he understands the importance of looking there, for the ultimate, the ancient, the primitive.

The latter understands that if this movement is not carried out, the conditions for overcoming the collective problems currently faced may be seriously compromised. For this reason the continuous dedication within archives, museums, archaeological sites, laboratories, etc. Because of this, amid the burning and the fire, officials of the national museum, researchers, scientists, were coming in and trying to save something. Therefore, the cry and sadness of many in front of all those losses. They were seeing all their work, all their professional life, all for what they spent hours on end, being lost in the flames. Lost and given hours, in the quest to try to find and produce knowledge to help the same people who, disdain these on a day to day basis.

Disdain is reflected in the very political performance of the population and its elected representatives. Guidelines such as health, safety, and education are common in partisan pamphlets and speeches (not that they should not be far from that). But, little is said about culture, history and heritage. In the discussions regarding the new National Curricular Common Base (BNCC), for high school, the government establishes as only the Portuguese and mathematics disciplines of the common school base. History? Sociology? Philosophy? Only if the networks choose. For the government, Portuguese and mathematics matter and the rest do not. How did the majority of the population react to this new BNCC? With the same disdain.

How can we create a different, more egalitarian society with more income distribution and guaranteed social rights and services if we can not analyze and look at the heritage and history of this country? How much more equity do we have to lose to understand the importance of it for our future?

Who's the future? Of all the workers, unemployed, small producers, students, scientists, etc., who are the ones who constitute the wealth of our civilization. To all of them, the preservation of the patrimony matters because, only from it, can we perceive what we must maintain and what we must change in the now, in the now, for the future. There are those who do not want these changes and will fight for us to remain in ignorance, in the immediacy, devaluing the past so that it can not be seen and revised. This government is an example and is part of this group. And so far, in this particular case, much of the population compares with them. May we change this scenario.

By: Professor Alan Nuncas Bica

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