I’d like to tell you something about the Greek society; corruption does not run in our blood. You would, however, be justified to think so. It’s important to me that you understand this, so I will ask you to imagine that you are born in a poor country. Not modern-day developed-world poor, but starving poor. Imagine that you grow up watching everyone around you starve (if you don’t starve yourself). Your generation is people who are forced to give up school to help their families survive, future uneducated -if not illiterate- adults who will be worn out by their 40s and who have absolutely no hope of ever getting a better life and making something of themselves. Nobody cares. They are expendable. Now imagine that you get a ticket out. You can escape the misery, you can live like a human being, you can hope for something more than survival. All you have to do is break the rules; step on other people on your way to the other side, abuse whatever power you might have. Would you do it?
That may not be the story of my generation, but it is that of my parents’ generation. The Greek crisis is not a financial one. That’s where you have been tricked. The Greek crisis is one of mentality and principles. Greece might be a member state of the EU but it stands miles apart from the other European countries. Why?
- My generation is pretty much the first generation of young people to get educated in their vast majority. Before us, going to university was considered a luxury.
- That way, there was never an educated, well-off middle class in Greece; there were just few rich and many truly poor people and a huge gap in between. Guess which side of the society politicians come from. And now guess whose interests they serve and how much power uneducated poor people could even dream of having over them.
- Up until the 1920s Greece and Turkey were still exchanging populations like it was cattle. The refugees that arrived to Greece from Turkey, my great grandparents among them, were dumped in horrible refugee camps outside the cities, in the poorest, grimiest areas, disposed off like human waste, forsaken by the state and rejected by the rest of the population.
Do you need to hear more?
Now, don’t kid yourselves; wherever you might be reading this article from, your countries were just as bad at some point. But they were given the time to evolve. Greece wasn’t. And we don’t need your help or sympathy, but we do need you to understand that not everyone sees the same view from their window. Change takes time; it’s about being given the time to evolve, rather than being forced to outrun yourself. Change requires generations of people lost and wasted. And change is never in our hands – unless you believe in armed combat, in which case I will kindly request that you leave my country alone.
Your politicians and journalists have told you to loathe us for feasting on our creditors’ money (your money) and pity us for being sucked in this black hole of debt and misery. There is no feast going on in Greece. That is not to say that the past generations of politicians didn’t feast on EU money that was supposed to be invested in infrastructure development projects. But young people today, people like you, like your friends, or your children, are doomed to a life with no prospects. I doubt you waste a moment of your everyday life thinking about us. But I hope you take a moment to think about the fact that half of the world is inadvertently making a profit out of the misery of the other half. And being ok with that is answer enough to the question I asked you at the beginning; clearly, you would.