Do not know how many of you remember, back in the 90’s a show on the British tele, called “Greece Uncovered”. It was supposed to be a series of episodes exposing the extremities of British nationals when going on vacation abroad, but it ended up being an utterly offensive hymn to one of the most popular tourist destinations of that time. Of course Greece wasn’t the only country whose public image has been humiliated and its citizens were shown as half cheaters half thugs, capable only of theft of the pure, goodhearted, noble Britons who naively let themselves be extorted. Spain, Portugal, Italy all shared the humiliation and the laughter. It seemed as if the European South was nothing more than lazy buggers, drinking frappe under the sun unsuitable of offering any true service even to their own nation.
Fortunately enough, the show did not go forever, as necessary action was taken surprisingly not from the Greek government of the time, but of the British tourism companies such as Thomas Cook , who suddenly saw their businesses going under.
However, history repeats itself, the country that only 8 years ago, housed the glorious and prestigious institute of Olympic Games, with mottos such as the Games are coming home, and is only a scorned pariah by the European Union. This time, no mercy has been shown, as the country’s ill economy has created huge needs of loans to avoid going bankrupt and kicked out of the eurozone.
Oh yes, the Monetary Union, the big bet, the great promise that would bring Greece, out of tit’s place as a second rate player, to the heart of the event and at the centre of administration. This was far from truth, as in only 10 years time since the implementation of the common coin, the country is living in a financial nightmare.
But it’s not the Euro’s fault, as if it was only euro to blame, all the countries that adopted it would have been at the same situation. It is the nation’s politics and governmental policies majorly to blame. Years of mishandling the funding given by the EU for the growth of the economy, outbreak of scandals related to corrupt politicians, laws drawn but never implemented, a generally disorganised and chaotic state are just few of the factors that played a key role to the current situation. Uttermost, though is the culture of “only save thy shelf” that is to blame. Greeks have shown a strong individualism, a complete lack of trust towards their own country, their own compatriots and fellow citizens. Take the example of tax evasion, people do not want to pay taxes, do not feel is their duty to do so, as they cannot see any benefit out of it, the health system is bad, the national education system is bad and so on. How though, the services can be improved if there is no income to be invested?
Such individualistic culture governs society infrastructure, being a very strong threat to its unity. Loosing unity, society loses its effectiveness as a whole, its power to implement and enforce changes, degrading and allowing phenomena of violence and brutality to its weaker parts. It is very easy to blame the other, than thyself for all the wrongdoing. Quite a simplistic explanation of the social chaos that is governing Athens at the moment, one might argue but often truth lies in the common sense. Instead of confronting the real problems of financial austerity and unemployment, and taking measures to address this hurdles many efforts have been focused to blame the others for the current situation.
People are witnessing random violent attacks against other people with only criterion a different skin colour or language or religion. Unfortunately, not only these attacks are tolerated but also encouraged or even applauded. The Greeks seem to forget that they have been taking the road to exile from their homeland, the road to ‘ksenitia’ for hundreds of years in an effort to grow out of poverty and famine or as the modern term is to become today’s modern financial immigrants, educated, multilingual but unable to find work in their own land. They immigrate by thousands to other countries seeking a better future. One might say that Greeks never committed any crime or that they are legal and so on. This cannot be more far that truth with a recent example being the involvement of Greek university students in the student loans fraud that cost Royal Bank of Scotland millions of pounds.
Greeks should question their selves, how would they feel if a Greek had been brutally murder by a right wing organisation in a foreign county? Should they allow the same practise to the foreigners on their own land or they should call for other solutions non violent?
Greek civilisation major asset has always been its ability to urbanise and humanise the population, Greeks had never been discriminating against other humans. Hopefully, the country will again be covered with its veil of dignity, decency and self respect and not uncovered of its great social and cultural achievements. Its glorious past dictates a descent present and good future, all it takes is to remember that effectiveness comes with unity.
Dr. Myrto Zacharof is a chemical engineer who studied and works in England.