Friday, 29 March 2013

To sleep with a clear conscience

“I don’t sleep much, but I sleep with a clear conscience.”
I’ve heard our Prime Minister say this sentence regularly, and since today is the Good Friday, we should take this opportunity to meditate on its meaning.
Today, the Christian world remembers, celebrates and worships the passion and death of Jesus Christ; He who said that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the pin of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Pope took a name that no other before him had taken, reminding me of a Francis that abandoned all richness, criticized opulence, protected the poor and spoke with Nature.
She was needy, dazedly explaining her woes. She was thin, nervous, with restless and uncertain gestures. She came from afar in search for the hope of a solution.
She did not sleep. It began a while earlier but got worse as time went by, especially in the last year. Nothing seemed to make her get well, nor help her get some sleep; it was a nightmare not to sleep and having to get up early in the morning. She got up at 6 am, worked from 7 am to 10 pm and got to bed by midnight.
“You know…Things are bad…we can’t have employees…we had to lay off several employees since it’s just me and my husband. We have an employee that helps in the kitchen, since he cooks and I wait tables, and I don’t want to overburden him…”
If we add up the working hours and the sleeping hours, we amount to truly scary results. “Share with the husband?” It wasn’t possible since he got in a lot earlier, around 4am, to cook the restaurant lunches. “At least he sleeps well, despite his snoring”.
I worried with the lack of solutions and the ensuing complications. Her insomnia and borderline depression, and her husband apnea. I hesitate in a not so convincing rationality.
She’s thin, nervous, with uncertain gestures and a tired demeanor. She adds up to the main issue: “We lost our house, which we built 12 years ago. When the business started slowing down, we stopped paying our loan and the bank took our house, which we both built with the money we had set aside back then.”
“Is there no alternative?”
“No… It´s definitive! The bank took it and we’re going to a loaned apartment. This hurts me the most.”
This insomnia followed the general model of the 3 P, with precipitating, predisposing and perpetuating factors … But which behaviors to change? How to teach rules regarding Sleep Hygiene? How to lessen the effects of the existing life events?
Indeed it was not just about the insomnia, but also about the crisis in our daily lives, about the immorality of dominant and dominating finances, about one class’ misery which, being less knowledgeable, was duped by financial cheap shortcuts, about the dramatic indifference to similar situations happening in a quick succession, about an economy’s fate which, tired of leeching from the poor, is now leeching from the middle class as well, about a shameful society that doesn’t secure the most basic rights of her citizens and doesn’t protect the weak, doesn’t regulate markets nor the anonymous investor’s greed, and doesn’t punish neither the big offenders nor those responsible for the current state of events, aptly named a “crisis”.
A society that widens the gap between the wealthy and the poor and that excels in creating more impoverishment every day that goes by.
According to Pope Francis, a society like this cannot guarantee Human Rights, and thus cannot wash its hands like Pilates, and cannot sleep with a Clear Conscience. 

Professor Teresa Paiva
Lisbon, March 29th 2013


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