We know that, although it’s a truth likely still lost on Brazilians, it was just a loss in a game. It shouldn’t be—and really wasn’t—a national humiliation, or anything like it. It was just eleven guys having a very bad day, most of them millionaires who work and often reside abroad.
There is no such thing as national honor, or if there is it should be synonymous with national common sense. Our honor, as people and countries, lies in being seen to conduct ourselves with kindness and mercy to the less fortunate, not in winning games or battles. Nations lose wars, and games, for many reasons, none of them curable by reprisal or self-mutilation. The Brazilians should be inclined to fix Brazil because Brazil needs fixing, not because they lost a game, of a kind that they will very likely win the next time they play one like it. Nations are not humiliated in this manner, though sometimes the pride of their rulers—or of eleven players and a coach—may be. We should banish for good the language of national honor and credibility and humiliation, and replace it with the language of common sense and self-interest and sanity. Add the language of pleasure, of sex and romance, to that, and no one will argue—certainly not, even with all their pain this week, the Brazilians.