Raul FreitasPortugal

Fast & Furious


fast furious - milenio stadium


Is it just me, or does life feel like a video game these days? For quite a while now, a lot of the new movie releases have been either based on comics and/or video games, or just basically played out like them. With CGI, (Computer Generated Imagery), the industry has become a medium where literally any idea or image can be transformed onto the screen. The physical limits of old have become a non-issue. Consequently, due to the popularity of gaming, much of what comes out of the studios, especially Hollywood, seems to be conceived around the surreal imagery and pace found in gaming.

These days, life is giving the distinct impression that it’s imitating the art. Our seemingly surreal reality of today is almost like a game, with similar exaggerations. In some places, even the unfortunate, but everyday violence, seems to be on a level that once was reserved to a computer screen and controls. The price of fuel rising in unheard of percentages in a single day, inflation being adjusted on a daily basis, property prices sling-shotting out of reach of most families and rents that not long-ago would be laughable, are now the norm. What’s happening? What did I miss? We all know what pinball is, right? Don’t you feel like that shiny sphere? Who’s hitting the flipper buttons? Where are all these explosions originating from? Everything seemed fine a minute ago. If this weren’t so serious it would be silly.

With the exception of those perched at the very top, today’s “life game” is affecting everyone. Even those who earn a decent living and are still able to afford a roof over their heads are looking over their shoulder. The perks previously enjoyed by the so-called “middle classes” are becoming more and more difficult to enjoy. This huge swath of the planet’s population is coming to grips with the fact that they’re as vulnerable as those under them. The consequences of world’s problems are not just simmering amongst the less fortunate anymore, they’re bubbling their way up. The butterfly effect is very real. Economically, we’ve been fused together on a global scale and desperately need each other in order to survive. Any bump in the road is felt by all, poor or otherwise and these days the roads are full of potholes. It seems nothing can be taken for granted anymore and, in a sense, that’s a good wakeup call.

The latest turbulence, (pardon the pun), is being felt by those who can still travel. It’s in no way a problem comparable to the ones I previously mentioned, but it’s in line with the point I’m trying to make. These days, the chaos at airports around the world is grabbing more headlines than the war in the Ukraine. Cancelled flights are stranding people at airports and the predictions are that the Summer will bring more of the same. The reasons being put forth are the lack of personnel, which is a problem in many sectors these days, strikes, because people are fed up with the status quo and also the boom in passenger traffic across the globe because people have been bottled up since the early days of the pandemic. To top it all off, just getting proper travel documentation has become nearly impossible for some, again due to staff shortages and cutbacks. I’m told the Portuguese consulate in Toronto is so slow it might be going back in time. After a little digging I discovered and article on the RTP Madeira website, dated June 22nd, stating that the consulate had been closed since the 13th of June due to staff shortages. According to André Domingues, an STCDE – Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Consulares e das Missões Diplomáticas no Estrangeiro union rep, the conditions for opening the doors to the consulate don’t exist due to factors like not enough staff to be able to handle the number of people requesting passports and other official documents. According to the article, only four staff are currently working at the office and dealing with a limited number of “more urgent” cases. According to Mr. Domingues, the urgent need for help at the consulate has been unheeded by the Portuguese ministry of external affairs. Of course, salaries are also an issue, since the last review was in 2012. According to the article, the consulate was to reopen July 4th, but, assuming it did, the problems will still persist, since the root of the problem has still to be addressed.

Yes, all problems are relative, but we all are suffering at differing levels. Point is we cannot ignore the problems of others anymore. We are all connected and there is no reset button, allowing us to try again. We have to be more aware of the goings on, in order to deal with our own situations. The population has become accustomed to letting others resolve the issues at hand and the results are in, they’re all around us. We need to actually ask a lot of questions and force important things to get done and/or resolved, if we want our children to have a decent future. We’re not watching this on a screen, we’re living it.
Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

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