Clóvis Barros Filho
Behavior

Is it possible to work with pleasure and not just to pay the bills?

‘Decrease accounts payable. Then, do what gives you pleasure ‘

With a law degree from USP, a master’s degree from the University of Sorbonne and a doctorate from the School of Communication and Arts (ECA-USP), Clóvis de Barros Filho usually enthuses his audiences not only with the vigor of his reflections, but with his dramatic posture ( comical, even) and the ease of walking through complex topics such as ethics. In this interview, he talks about the need to take charge of his own life and how to reconcile “working on what you like” and “paying the bills”.

In today’s times, we perceive the individualism of people a lot, who end up elbowing themselves to make their position prevail in relation to others. How to escape this trap and practice a “positive role”?

Clovis de Barros Filho – The idea is that this role is beneficial to the other and can guarantee a better coexistence for everyone. Therefore, any role that seeks to bring a benefit to the agent at a loss to others is a negative role that must be combated and avoided.

How to be a protagonist without being authoritarian?

Clovis – It is enough that you, when participating in a collective, you give the floor to everyone and everyone can decide how they want to live together. At this moment, everything you do for that collective will respect everyone’s will.

You talk a lot about working on what you like. But many people are unable to reconcile “having fun at work” with “paying the bills”. How to reconcile this?

Clovis – Decrease accounts payable. Then, do what gives you pleasure. You are saying the following: “you can have an activity that is not well paid by society. I speak of a chair, as I am a teacher, it is an excellent example. Society does not welcome the teacher, so it pays the teacher badly. Apart from two or three places in the world, the teacher is underpaid practically all over the world, differently from what is said. If you think your happiness depends on the exercise of that job and it is badly paid by society, you only have two ways out: either you fight politically for this job to be better paid or you reduce the bills to pay. Live in a simpler way, in a way compatible with the remuneration that your joyful job can provide. That’s what I did, I worked in Brasilia, I quit a job to be a teacher. My income, at first, fell ten times and, therefore, I had to adapt my life to my new financial conditions. I made this choice because I thought it was worth it. I didn’t need to buy designer clothes, by car, to live in an X neighborhood, I didn’t need a fucking thing. But I couldn’t give up being a teacher. Of course, things changed afterwards and I started to be better paid for my job. But, for that to happen, it took more than 20 years. I spent 20 years assuming the choice I made, which was to live more simply, in a more humble way and bet on the job I chose for myself. I didn’t need to buy designer clothes, by car, to live in an X neighborhood, I didn’t need a fucking thing. But I couldn’t give up being a teacher. Of course, things changed afterwards and I started to be better paid for my job. But, for that to happen, it took more than 20 years. I spent 20 years assuming the choice I made, which was to live more simply, in a more humble way and bet on the job I chose for myself. I didn’t need to buy designer clothes, by car, to live in an X neighborhood, I didn’t need a fucking thing. But I couldn’t give up being a teacher. Of course, things changed afterwards and I started to be better paid for my job. But, for that to happen, it took more than 20 years. I spent 20 years assuming the choice I made, which was to live more simply, in a more humble way and bet on the job I chose for myself.

The internet has a great influence on the coexistence between people. Increasingly, people want to be protagonists, they become experts in the Middle East, mining and so on. Umberto Eco says that the internet has given voice to imbeciles. How do you evaluate this “cyber protagonism”?

Clóvis – The internet is just a tool, it continues to depend on the intelligent life that uses it. Even before the internet a lot of idiots spoke.

Exactly. Umberto Eco says that, before, idiocy was restricted to the sea table. Today, it has gained a worldwide scale.

Clovis – Yes, this requires, on the part of those who interact, more critical competence in order to be able to identify the speeches of greatest value. The internet, in fact, has democratized the word, for better or for worse. Therefore, it requires more competence to not be affected by everything.

You wrote a book on ethics, co-authored with Mário Sérgio Cortella. Of course, there is no magic formula to improve the people’s ethical concepts from one moment to the next. But where do you think we could start to move in this direction, in Brazil?

Clóvis – Through a more adequate school education, it is a path. You must have studied four years of literature, three of biology, three of chemistry, three of physics, seven or eight of mathematics … but how many years have you studied ethics? Why do you think you should know things about ethics if it was not taught by anyone? In fact, let’s agree, you don’t know much about chemistry even though you have studied. Of ethics, even less!

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