Posted by: Yorgos | December 21, 2010

Text 40 – A Nation in Crisis, a Nation in Depression

I don’t normally do it, but this time I will use this blog in order to express my opinion about a political situation and , particularly, the debt crisis that Greece is currently facing. First things first. Things are bad and it seems that they’re getting worse by the day. People are angry, frustrated, sad, depressed. They want something to be done, but seem to lack the courage to start it themselves. The flimsy attempts at protesting have begun not from the majority of the people, but from groups with agendas, like unions and anarchists, but at least there is some participation by other people as well. It’s not difficult to surmise whose fault this whole mess is. Bad governments and Greeks with bad mentality. Not all, but too many of us have tried one way or another to beat the system, to cut corners, to gain unfair advantages only to realize now that what we we were doing was, in fact, following the system itself. Mirrored in the governments (or perhaps pre-existent in it), this mentality was blown out of proportion, since the decision makers have much more room to act and, quite literally, steal. Actually, it seems that for a long time, the people who wanted to become decision makers were those who were more eager to gain unfair advantages, which means that the dishonest to honest ratio was much worse in politics, than in any other field. I share the sentiment in wanting to see some people put in prison, while at the same time I realize that the false prosperity we had in the past is pretty much the reason why we’re here. Governments gave away as much as they stole, a bribe of sorts to keep the people satisfied and silent, and, in our vanity, we started wanting even more, taking more loans and relying more and more on credit cards, a dangerous mix, especially when it is combined with our peculiar, self-destructing, but overall awesome, optimism.

Optimism. We Greeks are often proud of our sun. You can’t but feel optimistic when the day is nice. And the day is nice in Greece quite often. Is this still true, though? Perhaps we feel better when we see the sun shining, but do we feel good? No, not at all. As I said, people are angry and depressed, and rightly so. They are poorer and the prospects are not improving. But we are here now. What do we do? Mistakes and crimes have indeed been made and they have brought us here. What are we going to do about it? How are we going to get out of this dire financial situation?

This is where I will disagree with a lot of Greeks. I don’ t see that getting poorer is the biggest problem we have right now. My generation has been the wealthiest one ever to exist in modern Greece (let’s say since the founding of the modern Greek state in the early 19th century). It probably still is. Our parents, even, were much poorer than us and I bet that, to some people, people who can put things in perspective, complaining now makes us sound like spoiled brats, whose toys were taken away by a bad teacher. I am not suggesting that we should forget about any injustices that have been made, because we’re still better off than in the past. Not at all. What happened was unforgivable and needs to be corrected one way or another (I will talk about this later). What I am saying right now, though, is that the biggest problem is not poverty. It’s depression and fear. I will say it once more and it’s not an accident that I’ve been repeating it since the beginning of this text: People are angry and sad and depressed and frustrated. And afraid. And that is the biggest threat of all. Because being in fear means that you’re afraid to act. Being in a poor financial situation is, if nothing else, a motivator, a reason to try and remedy things, to improve them, to change them, to change yourself, in order to get out of that difficult path. Being afraid and depressed, however, is a hindrance to any progress; it’s another reason why you can’t solve your own problems, it’s the slippery moss that has formed on the walls of the well in which you’ve fallen. Let me clarify this, though: Unemployment, wage cuts, debt are all major problems which will lead many Greeks to actual poverty, will make them put an effort to supply themselves and their families with what is necessary to survive. Overall, though, these problems, this immediate threat pales in comparison to a nation in depression (in both senses of the word), whose condition will continue to deteriorate, if the change doesn’t start from its own mentality.

I see people trying to find conspiracy theories behind the crisis, plans to enslave the population of Greece and, subsequently, Europe and the world, in various hidden powers of this earth. Greed does not need such fancy explanations. There are no unknown powers that want to enslave us. There are very known institutions (because such things always surpass a person, which only has power when it finds itself in a privileged position), which benefit from keeping us docile. And I say docile, because docility can be achieved with both unfounded happiness and fear. But you can’t have one being dominant all the time, nor can you have one without the other. The balance may change, but both are needed to keep the population in check. 1984 and Brave New World are two aspects of the same coin. Fear and false happiness. Fear comes from The Cold War, terrorists, debt crisis, false happiness comes from mass culture, gambling and all the little things in life that keep us content, unwilling to try and change anything.

So, what are we to do, in the face of this adverse situation? I will not suggest that I have any solutions ready. I do know that first we need to realize that it’s not the financial aspects of the crisis that is the real threat and that the solution will come from us, not from any government. I am not suggesting a revolution; I am not the violent type and, frankly, I can’t see against whom this potential revolution can take place. If it’s the politicians’ fault, then the solution is easy: don’t vote for them again. But it’s not only their fault; we need to put the blame on ourselves as well, for electing them, supporting them, tolerating their behavior and, finally, for acting in almost the same way as them, albeit on a smaller scale. We need to change first. We had elections two months ago and the two previous governments still got the majority of the votes. We don’t learn. I can accept that the politicians belong in prison, but if we don’t change, Greek politics will prove to be like the Hydra. More of them will crop up. Besides, the leaders of the so-called protests seem to me to be made from the same recipe. We need to change ourselves and create new institutions, new ways to express ourselves and be heard. We need to stop being afraid, as long as we don’t exchange this feeling with a false sense of happiness and security.

This blog post is my contribution towards this goal, since I don’t find the will or courage to follow the protests. And maybe this is where I need to change.

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