True education and democracy. Brazil ‘s 2018 elections

Joaquina (Jo) Pires-O’Brien

The recognition of greatness results from true education, according with the British thinker John Ruskin (1819-1900), who often used the expression ‘true king’ to denote the ‘truly noble man’, the individual who possesses all the traits necessary for good leadership.  According to him,

“The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things — not merely industrious, but to love industry — not merely learned, but to love knowledge — not merely pure, but to love purity — not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.”

Good democracies need great leaders and voters who recognize greatness. These two conditions seem to be lacking in the present set of electoral candidates in Brazil. In Brazil, individuals who are known for their courage, culture and integrity  are not normally selected by political parties. If they were, what would be the chances that voters would recognize their good qualities?

Uneducated or under-educated voters tend not to appreciate a candidate with the right qualifications to be a statesman, preferring instead  the piddling candidate who identifies himself as a ‘man of the people’.  On the other hand, the truly educated voters don’t feel diminished by voting for someone whom they perceives as better than themselves.

In Brazil, the current apprehension regarding the outcome of the 2018 presidential election has one lesson for the political parties and another for the voters.  The lesson for the Brazilian political parties is that due to the current state of the political landscape, individuals who have the right qualities for political office tend to shy away from politics, and for that reason, they should be actively recruited. The lesson for the voters is that they should learn which are the desirable qualities in a statesman, so that they can make informed choices.

Ruskin’s concept of true education is still a distant dream for a country like Brazil. However, if the Brazilian voters do the right thing, and think hard before choosing their candidate, that will be a step in the right direction.


Jo Pires-O`Brien is the editor of PortVitoria, a magazine for the Iberian culture.