A Balanced Intercultural View Can
Awaken Our Civilization to Global Ethics
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
The Iberian Peninsula
Brazilian Sociologist Gilberto Freyre thinks that Spain and Portugal are not quite European nations. They stand as a cultural combination of Europe and Africa, of Christianity and Islam, having a strong Jewish presence.[1]
The Iberian Peninsula is seen as a cultural synthesis of three religious views of the world and a complex, paradoxical combination of different ethnicities.
Portugal became nominally Christian in the 12th century, and the Peninsula played a leading role in the discovery of the Americas. The dynamic combination of contrasting cultures got deepened in the 16th century. The colonial expansion of Spain and Portugal towards the Americas, Asia and Africa brought about miscegenation and integrative trends which also included cruelty, racism and anti-Semitism.
Freyre says that the Peninsula has much in common with Russia. Just as the land of the Czars is a cultural and ethnical bridge between Asia and Europe, the nations of Iberia constitute a transition between Africa and Europe, with the Jewish influence being quietly central in the process.
Indeed, Judaism constitutes the source from which Christianity and the Islam emerged, and to which they owe much. If the two religions have political reasons to deny the parental role played by Judaism in their history, this is something they must learn to deal with. Emotional resistance to parents does not change the fact of parenthood.
It is only natural that well-known Jewish thinkers as Isaac Abravanel and his son Judah Abravanel – better known as “Leone Ebreo” – play central roles in the history of Portuguese and Iberian philosophy. Also influential in Portugal are Baruch Spinoza and Uriel da Costa. Jews are present in the Iberian Peninsula since the 6th century, Christian Era, and they were both numerically and culturally important in the formation of Brazil.[2]
Speaking of the unconscious preparation of the Spanish and the Portuguese for the cycle of the Conquests, Freyre quotes Fernando de los Ríos to mention the “marvelous periods of understanding and co-operation” among Arabs, Christians and Jews in the Peninsula, as in the fact that the three religions celebrated in the same temple, Santa María la Blanca, in Toledo, during the thirteenth century.
According to Freyre, the living paradoxes present in the souls of Iberian and Russian nations and individuals make them more dramatic, and psychologically richer than the would-be homogenous cultures of “pure-blooded” Europe. The intense contrast in national life has strong advantages and disadvantages. It develops a special ability to live with contradictions and to harmonize them; or perhaps to merely disguise them, paving the way to the process of split personality. [3]
Christian dogmatism and blind faith strongly stimulate hypocrisy, which leads to violence. It is fortunate that Portuguese Christianity was marked by Pagan and Jewish influences, being more easily inclined to integration. On the other hand, the relative homogeneity of some European nations must be respected and has its own positive, and negative, characteristics. In the planetary dialogue we need, every individual culture has something to teach others. Real globalism must be truthful, transcendent, and must not destroy local cultures.
Paradox is inevitable in life, for contradictions move everyone ahead. The ethnic heterogeneity of Russia, Spain, Portugal and the Iberian countries in the Americas must share with the “pur-sang” varieties of human experience a couple of lessons in cultural diversity, and in the science of building a sort of oneness that includes nonviolent forms of contrast.  
It is essential to the world today to have a respectful cross-culturalism that preserves individual cultures while stimulating the dialogue among all points of view. There is a universal wisdom permeating the most different religions and philosophies, and it constitutes their common source and their destiny.
Combined with social justice and environmental ethics, a balanced intercultural dialogue will heal the sense of separation and despair generated by a sort of globalism that reduces human beings to the condition of automatic humanoid machines, carefully programmed to follow the vicious circles of money circulation and concentration.    
Political Leaders, Freud and a Sea of Horror
It should be most unlikely, of course, that the ladies and gentlemen who are now responsible for the Western banking system, the mainstream media-controlling companies and nuclear weapon industries would ever launch mankind into an unprecedented sea of suffering and horror.
Such leaders are too humane, too well-educated, too sensitive to the interests of their fellow citizens, for that. They are not the mere puppets of organized ignorance.
Or – are they?  
We better watch and remain vigilant. Historical cycles frequently include avoidable disasters. Ignorance transcends words and must be fought in one’s own heart, first.
Whenever a society fails to listen to the voice of individual and collective conscience, it loses common sense. It then becomes gradually dysfunctional, until it disappears. Its end takes place in scarcely elegant ways, as History shows with numerous examples. 
However, “that misery which is not yet come can be warded off”, says Patanjali, II, 16. A popular saying in Brazil clarifies that “everything is worthwhile as long as the Soul is not small or narrow”.
Nuclear proliferation, religious intolerance, mass murder, organized financial crime, social injustice and environmental destruction are all basically limited to narrow and blind states of human soul.
Psychoanalysis observes and offers an explanation for these states of mind. From a theosophical point of view, ignorance exists but to be healed and left behind as the soul grows in knowledge. By being defeated one learns precious lessons, and Freud wrote an essay on the disillusionment caused by World War I (1914-1918) among those who thought that civilization had transcended mass murder already.
In 1915, Freud referred to the moral failure of the “white nations”:
“We had expected the great ruling powers among the white nations upon whom the leadership of the human species has fallen, who were known to have cultivated world-wide interests, to whose creative powers were due our technical advances in the direction of dominating nature, as well as the artistic and scientific acquisitions of the mind – peoples such as these we had expected to succeed in discovering another way of settling misunderstandings and conflicts of interest.”
“Within each of these nations”, Freud went on, “there prevailed high standards of accepted custom for the individual, to which his manner of life was bound to conform if he desired a share in communal privileges. These ordinances, frequently too stringent, exacted a great deal from him, much self-restraint, much renunciation of instinctual gratification. He was especially forbidden to make use of the immense advantages to be gained by the practice of lying and deception in competition with his fellow men.  The civilized state regarded these accepted standards as the basis of its existence; stern were its proceedings when an impious hand was laid upon them; frequent the pronouncement that to subject them even to examination by a critical intelligence was entirely impracticable. It could be assumed, therefore, that the state itself would respect them, nor would contemplate undertaking any infringement of what it acknowledged as the basis of its own existence.” [4]
And the statesmen lied, cheated, and made war; and they created a situation in which Europe became similar to a slaughter house.
Freud saw the First World War. He did not see the second one, and never heard of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  Yet he wrote this warning, valid for 21st century:
“We welcome illusions because they spare us emotional distress, and enable us instead to indulge in [short term] gratification. We must not then complain if now and again they come into conflict with some portion of reality, and are shattered against it.” [5]
One practical lesson from these lines is that citizens of the 21st century should examine the way they look at the process of nuclear proliferation right now taking place under the karmic responsibility of the distinguished ladies and gentlemen who are in charge of the international banking, of “scientific researches”, of the leading “white nations”, and global institutions.
There is no need to blindly believe such ladies and gentlemen will necessary act as the loving mothers and fathers of their nations and of mankind. Actually, history shows those in power often behave like spoiled children who have no sense of responsibility whatsoever, except in the world of the media and appearances.
The Integrative Civilization
Gilberto Freyre establishes an Iberian type of civilization, which he calls “integrative”, as opposed to the Northern “White” European nations. The integrative and “mixed blood” civilization encompasses both the Americas (South and Central) and the Iberian Peninsula.
The starting-point for Freyre’s view is an “instinctive” feeling of universal compassion and cross-cultural solidarity. He grasps the fact that humanity is one. He thinks that the attempts to deny the natural community of nations have no future.  In his book “The Portuguese and the Tropics”, Freyre says:
“The Portuguese and Brazilians of today require, from [the dominant materialist countries], national, logical, chronometric and superiorly technical values. But they also need to continue to be a community capable of transmitting to the [the dominant empiric countries]  those values which in mixed integrated peoples, such as the Brazilian, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the Russian, the Chinese, the Mexican, the Hungarian, the Indian, the Israelite, the Arab, are only able to develop or be preserved when there is belief and irrationality even, in the myths that contradictorily bind the present to the past and the future of those peoples, in an integration of social times and cultural times that will complete the other integration: that of regionally different cultures, of ethnic groups of different origin, of populations differing in their original characteristics and, although distant in physical time, one from another, bound together by the same dominant life motives and by the same ecologic conditions in the social and cultural fields.” [6]
The integrative view of humanity transcends ideologies and gives the lie to lower-level forms of rationality. A sharp Freudian critique of materialistic civilizations is present in Freyre’s approach. For him –
“One might almost generalize, that only those civilizations which are strongly poetic besides being technically superior, will last long. The purely logical and dryly rational fade through lack of poetry and irrationality.” [7]
In other words, civilizations need a soul. Human beings cannot be reduced to the condition of machines.
Lin Yutang on Blind Materialism
Chinese thinker Lin Yutang (1895-1976) brings to the discussion the poetry and philosophy of ancient China, which is an ethnically “integrative” nation itself according to Freyre.
Yutang says:
“Who can deny that economic thinking has superseded all other forms of thinking, that economic issues have obscured all other issues, that we are thinking of nothing but applying poultices to our economic sores, and that our highest spiritual hope is good business and plenty of consumer goods for all? And who can deny that this power and profit motive contains in itself the seeds of future wars? (…..) Far from being an empty phrase, materialism colors 95 per cent of our effective thinking. In fact, it is strangling our thinking.” [8]
In order to tackle the disease of nuclear proliferation which the media, big business ideology and statesmen stimulate one way or another, one must listen to the Chinese thinker:
“Materialism is the very stuff and fiber of modern thinking, which dominates all postwar planning and makes a philosophy of peace impossible. Is it not true that almost all our proposals for the future peace stem from the one assumption that the cure for the ills of economic progress is more economic progress? Are we not thinking of peace merely in terms of a free exchange of trade, free flow of material, and ‘prosperity’? In other words, peace is canned goods, bigger and better canned goods. Peace is a condition where we may sell and sell abundantly. ‘Heaven’ itself is a concrete, fire-proof warehouse stocked to the ceiling with canned goods. For the world is now business, political business and economic business.”
Yutang concludes his diagnosis:
“A nation is a concern, a government is only its shop counter, and its diplomats are its traveling salesmen trying to outsell its competitors and beat them to a new market, and its publicists and thinkers are its expert accountants. The audacity of these thinkers of peace hurts my soul.” [9]
Once the search for money is considered everyone’s supreme goal in life, the way is paved for future wars, atomic or not, and for all forms of social decay. Wars are seen as good for business, as long as Life is despised and Money is our god. 
If the Iberian point of view gets together with the Russian, the Jewish, the Arab, the South and Central American perspectives; and with the Chinese, the Indian and other cultural and civilizatory experiences in order to re-evaluate the now dysfunctional money-adoring materialism of the “white nations”, then the hysterical or nonsensical aspects of nuclear proliferation (the psychotic dimensions of irrationality) get clearer and easier to defeat.
When the poetic “irrationality” of human communities is too harshly repressed by the “rationalizing impulse”, then psychotic episodes like mass-murder, religious terrorism and preparations for atomic war may occur.
Freyre formulates a Sociology of civilizatory integration which helps preventing the sources of psychotic behaviour on the part of heads of state and political or religious leaders, and paves the way to universal brotherhood in our planet.
The Philosophy of Peace
There is a step ahead mankind needs to take in the present century – the sooner the better -, in order to dispel the clouds of nuclear war danger. It involves not only having an idealistic view of life, but reducing the distance between dream and fact, thought and action, when dream and thought are noble.  
Lin Yutang writes about the philosophy of peace that can heal an ailing civilization:    
“What we need above all is a theory of the rhythm of life and of the unity and interrelatedness of all things. Without that faith, the doctrine of force cannot be destroyed. The dichotomy between ideals and action must be resolved, and an all-inclusive, comprehensive philosophy must be produced whereby ideals may be brought down from the clouds again to activate the affairs of men on earth. High-flown idealism and pedestrian realism must be joined together, so that idealists are no longer regarded by businessmen as impractical and ‘realism’ is no longer an excuse for dispensing with ideals in men’s plans for action. The rhythm of life and the unity and interrelatedness of all things must be shown and shown conclusively, so that they become a part of our faith for daily action.” [10]
Yutang’s view of the world is theosophical. Seen as a tool, his philosophy makes it easier to liberate mankind from the nightmare of nuclear weapons. The challenging task needs a knowledge of human soul: the psychological source of the nuclear nonsense has to be understood before one becomes fully able to remove it.
Iberian Countries and Atomic Warfare
The five officially recognized nuclear-weapon states – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States – committed themselves in 2000 to an “unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” [11]
They must still forcefully act in that direction.
Ninety percent of the nuclear weapons belong to Russia and the United States. The two should take the lead towards a healthier future. It would give them the moral strength necessary to invite other states to action.
Meanwhile, peaceful countries must be heard.
Just as Spain, Portugal and a number of nations around the globe, the Iberian Americas have an integrative approach to the future of mankind and are free from the nuclear weapons’ disease.
Former Brazilian President Michel Temer defended his country’s policy during the Third Nuclear Security Summit, in the Netherlands, in 2014. At the time he was still the vice-president of the country.
“Brazil is a Party to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone among States”, Temer said. “We defend, most of all, the launching of multilateral negotiations on a convention banning nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination – in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner – with realistic goals and timelines.” 
According to Michel Temer, “a world that accepts nuclear weapons will always be insecure. It is essential to eliminate such weapons, which, because of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of their use, remain a permanent threat to humanity.” And he adds:  
“The most effective way to reduce the risk that non-state actors make use of nuclear explosives or their materials is the total elimination of all nuclear arsenals.” [12]
The view is shared by a number of governments and millions of citizens around the world.
Temer is a legal scholar and a long-standing politician and statesman. As a Constitutionalist, he has several books published on Law and Legal Consciousness. Brazil is the fifth-largest country of the world by both area and population, and has 205 million inhabitants.
Mexico, Argentina and Brazil play a central role in keeping Latin America free from such a nightmare. The Iberian Peninsula and the Iberian Americas seem to have been saying something to the world, more in actions than in words.
It is mentally insane to plan and prepare actions that would destroy cities and nations in minutes, and provoke an unthinkable planetary catastrophe.
The act of making such preparations should be submitted to a public psychoanalytic examination.
The scientists, politicians and heads of state responsible for such institutionalized insanity in thought as well as in preparatory actions would better heal themselves and their institutions from this shameful illness in the soul. One first step in that direction would be to study the lessons human community can learn from a sane psychological view of human conflicts.
It is emotionally healthy and morally beautiful to have respect for life: it is also necessary.
Everyone must have enough balance and common sense to feel personally co-responsible for the bright future of our planet; and politicians and heads of state are no exception to the rule.
[1]Brazil an Interpretation”, by Gilberto Freyre, published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1945, 1951, New York, chapter one.
[2] See for instance “Don Isaac Abravanel”, by B. Netanyahu, Cornell University Press, fifth edition, 1998, 350 pp.; “Dialogues of Love”, Leone Ebreo, The Lorenzo da Ponte Italian Library, University of Toronto Press, 2009, 440 pp.; “Gabriel da Costa, Rebel and Dreamer”, a novel on Uriel da Costa’s life written by Jacob S. Minkin, A.S. Barnes and Company, 1969, 460 pages; and “A Filosofia Hebraico-Portuguesa”, by Pinharanda Gomes, Guimarães Editores, Lisboa, 1999, 678 pp.
[3] See pages 2-4 of “Brazil an Interpretation”, by Gilberto Freyre, or pages 43-44 of the Brazilian edition: “Interpretação do Brasil”, Livraria José Olympio Editora, RJ-SP, 1947, 323 pp.  On Santa María la Blanca, see p. 4, “Brazil an Interpretation”.
[4] Thoughts for the Times on War and Death”, in “Great Books of the Western World”, a collection published by the Encyclopaedia Britannica, volume 54, “Freud”,  1952 edition, 884 pp., see p. 755.
[5] Thoughts for the Times on War and Death”, in “Great Books of the Western World”, volume 54, “Freud”, 1952 edition, 884 pp., see p. 757.
[6] The Portuguese and the Tropics”, Gilberto Freyre, translated by Helen Matthew and F. de Mello Moser, International Congress of the History of the Discoveries, Lisbon, 1961, 298 pp., see p. 296.
[7] The Portuguese and the Tropics”, 1961, Gilberto Freyre, p. 295.
[8]Between Tears and Laughter”, Lin Yutang, Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1943/1945, 216 pp., p. 62. 
[9] Between Tears and Laughter”, Lin Yutang, 1943/1945, 216 pp., pp. 61-62.
[10] Between Tears and Laughter”, Lin Yutang, Blue Ribbon Books, New York, 1943/1945, 216 pp., p. 59.
[11] Source: a report by Arms Control Association.
[12] See in our associated websites the article by Michel Temer entitled “Brazil on Nuclear Proliferation”.
The above article was first published in October 2016 at our theosophical blog at “The Times of Israel”.
Readers are invited to see in our websites the text “Old Prophecies and Atomic War”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.