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Profeta Gentileza
Marisa Monte
BrazilGALLERYCONVERSATION
 Media Center
From the 1960s until recently, an enigmatic man circulated throughout Rio de Janeiro, triggering people’s curiosity.

He was an old man, with the appearance of a biblical prophet, a long white beard, a long tunic, and Franciscan-style sandals. He carried in his hands two tablets of written prophecies, like those of Moses. He approached people who passed in cars and on sidewalks, but he didn’t ask for anything, and instead offered them words of love, flowers, and compassion during more than three decades throughout the streets of the country.

That man became known as Profeta Gentileza (Prophet of Kindness), and part of his preaching consisted in writing his message on the pillars of a big viaduct here in Rio.

That way, in the middle of the confusion, indifference, selfishness, and violence of the big city, all passersby could read in that giant urban display, sentences such as:

KINDNESS GENERATES KINDNESS,

DON’T USE PROBLEMS, DON’T USE POVERTY, USE LOVE, or even

KINDNESS IS THE MEDICINE FOR ALL DISEASES

I was still a child and, for me, it was incredible and fascinating to cross paths with him. I remember that I used to observe, with curios eyes, his writings in the Viaduto do Cajú. Seeing his illustrations on a street in the big city filled me with a feeling of freedom and affection.

In 1997, I went to the viaduct with a friend of mine who lives outside of Rio to introduce him to Gentileza’s work. It was then that I learned that his work no longer existed.

Since 1996, with the Profeta Gentileza’s death, his murals became orphans, without any kind of care. The murals deteriorated a lot and ended up covered with a layer of gray paint, by the Rio de Janeiro Urban Cleaning Company.

I was so shocked and sad that, in the same night, I wrote the song Gentileza (Kindness) that I recorded in my album Memories, Chronicles and Declarations of Love (2000). It was then that I learned that there existed in Rio a movement at a local university to recover the writings of Profeta Gentileza. Due to the efforts of a nongovernmental organization (Rio with Kindness) and of the personnel at the local university, today Gentileza’s work has been totally restored and preserved, and returned to the population of Rio.

The subject of kindness is a human and universal one; it offers us a way of awakening from the attitudes of indifference that surround us in cities. What generates violence is the anonymity and loneliness we feel in the middle of a crowd.

Gentileza used to preach fraternal love and urged people to devote their attentions to others and create intimacy with each other.

A prophet is somebody who lights up the people.

KINDNESS GENERATES KINDNESS.

***

They erased everything
They painted it all grey
The word on the wall
Was covered over with paint

They erased everything
They painted it all grey
All that was left on the wall
Was sadness and fresh paint

We that pass in a hurry
Through the streets of the city
Deserve to read the letters
And the words of Kindness
So I ask
You of the world
What is more intelligent
The book—or wisdom?

The world is a school
Life is a circus
Love is a word that liberates
So said the poet
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Cospavel (Costa Rica)
Tu comentario es hermoso. En America Latina estamos llenos de gente como el profeta gentileza, una isla de poesía en el mar de anonimato y soledad.
Y lo mágico es que después de su desaparición siguen inspirando, forjando islas de esperanza en los demas seres sensibles, como tu que odormas la vida del profeta gentileza con tu bella canción.
GRacias
 
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