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Greece Crucified - and Rising

I have just finished reading your article entitled ‘Five Empires’ and I would say that it really depicts what we have all been experiencing more and more intensively during the last few years here in my country also. This quest for a 'unipolar' world can be seen more and more vividly not only in the 'pre-arranged' Greek debt crisis, but also in the systematic annihilation of any manifestation of our Greek national identity as a matter of international alliances policy, school curricula, welfare policy, research funding, immigration policy etc. Almost everything is changing.

The recent view of even the parade for the commemoration of the liberation of the Greeks from the Ottoman yoke on the 25 March in the centre of Athens was a disappointing experience. Only the President of the Republic was present, but not the Prime Minister or any member of the Cabinet. The people of Athens were absent too. Apart from a few ‘flag-wavers' spotted by the TV cameras, no-one else was there. And this was not because of the people's indifference but because of the massive presence of the police everywhere on Syntagma Square, as they feared the repetition of previous atrocities in downtown Athens. It was a somewhat 'sterilized' national anniversary, organized just to be televised, that had nothing to do with the vibrant public manifestations of just a couple of years ago.

This was further evidence of the abysmal distance that separates the government and the rest of the political system of this country from the Greek people. The latter on the other hand is suffering not only from all the 'provisions' imposed on us, but also by its own spoiled character, created during all the years of bigotry and moral degradation that have just gone by. 

In this devastated scenery I think that just a few oases of humble week grass - not even flowers - seem to be beginning to grow. Many bishops and priests are collecting goods (food, clothing etc) for the poor, 'social groceries' or 'social pharmacies' are springing up in parishes and municipalities, residents in some areas are uniting in an effort to find from produce directly from farmers at lower prices than usual, teachers are offering free lessons to pupils and students, many young people, if not going abroad, are choosing to leave the city for their close relatives in a village or town somewhere in a Greek province.

What is more, many forwarded e-mails are encouraging us to prefer Greek products in general, to get informed through the internet and not through the established media and so on. But real healing is still only a hope. Everybody feels more and more depressed. Personally, first of all I am happy to have managed to shut away my TV set a long ago (I keep it in the box it was sold to me in actually). I feel that I have already avoided much that is depressing just because of that. And somehow I sometimes feel that this collapse of our consumerist way of life will lead us to a kind of awakening. Of course, there are and there can be many people who are defeated by depression, but on the other hand new forms of 'volunteering' are beginning to emerge.

Just a few days ago an old man dressed in rags approached the cashier in a supermarket in Athens. He was holding a basket with couple of tins of food and a camping gas cartridge. When the young lady at the cash desk saw him, she said, ‘You may go, sir. Our company permits some baskets free’. The old man then gave her a thousand blessings. As soon as the old man had gone, the young lady opened her purse, took out some money and put it in the cash register for the goods the poor man had taken with him. Then some of the astonished customers offered to pay themselves for these few products. But the young lady stopped them with a strict glance and said in a very severe tone that, ‘It was me who decided to let him go and so it's me who is going to pay. Come on, please! Do not queue!’ And she was just a girl! How much might she earn per month? 500 euros? Probably less. Incidents like this are beginning to water the tree of hope again, I think, in the land of so many saints...

Denetrios, Greece.

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