There’s a number of things we set out to do as transient minded individuals in the irrefutable psychological turmoil of generations of conflicting interests which are meant to give us a better sense of what the path to be walked looks like and what it feels to walk through it. We might begin to wonder why in the middle of the road, and we probably should – after all, what’s the point of being sure of where we’re heading if there’s nothing that adds mystery and discovery, new questioning and personal growth to our countless and tireless endeavors? But it might be the case to point out, without fear of being under the scrutiny of the powerful, that some people take that long and difficult road (and not another, which reminds me of American poet Robert Frost), while others, so it seems, can easily fly anywhere they want. I guess another way of putting it would be, if I were that kind of person, that a hundred percent of successful people are people who tried, but I think that wouldn’t make me the most inspiring TED speaker, and not the most honest either – because I know, plain and simple, that a lot of people basically inherit success, and that has absolutely nothing to do with effort.
If we talk about opportunity, maybe the only possible way to encourage people to have a sensible debate is to ask them to picture what they want for their children, even if that’s out of question. It’s an interesting exercise for young people, but a horrible dispute among parents. I do understand that when you sit with another mom or dad you want to talk about why baby shark is a good or bad song, but before you managed to achieve a relatively comfortable position in your life, in case you have, there were other things at stake: how to provide, where to live, how much time you’d be dedicating to raising a human being, how to follow every stage of their process of growing up while keeping your own life going forward. The small detail, which clearly brings about an uncomfortable discussion, is that people from every social class and background don’t have the slightest idea of how things will be when that happens, but it becomes part of who they are and it shapes their character and decisions completely. It’s a blessing, they say, but a whole new chapter starts, with different joys and accomplishments, as well as concerns, challenges and failures, which are definitely not the same for everyone.
It’s not as much a question of what we want, but what we can have. In Brazil, there’s only about 15% of the population who have completed higher education, and that tells us something important: we do need to make plans, but sometimes other people are responsible for making them for us. I understand that this is part of a much bigger discussion in terms of what needs to be done to fix inequality, and I’ve listened to a lot of people telling stories of perseverance and hardship, but for some reason, they were all wearing suits. I’m sorry if you think my problem is the dressing code of an entrepreneurial event or that you just missed the point and figured it’s personal, but we need to make structural changes to improve things and envision a future where less people get left behind. Whenever you plan something, it’s a matter of seeing more than just the money in it. You need to strive to do better, but you also need to do what you love doing and realize you’re not doing it just for yourself. Sometimes, as Brazilian poet Drummond put it, there’s a stone in the middle of the road, and all you can do is walk your way back.