As the curtain closed on his illustrious life, former Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides received the accolades he long deserved for serving so well the country he loved so dearly.
We envision Clerides, who received a funeral befitting a sitting leader, is smiling as hears the posthumous praise heaped on him, knowing as well as he did the frailties of human nature.
What is it that compels people to vilify leaders when they are alive, only to deify them after death?
Clerides was accused him of being anti-Makarios when that archbishop and Cypriot president was considered godlike. Clerides was essentially deemed a traitor because he supported certain realistic positions regarding the Cyprus problem.
The accusations did not bend his will. He knew he was doing what was right for his country, and so he endured paying a personal price.
So, why is he now mourned in Cyprus and throughout the Hellenic world? Because, in retrospect, we recognize him as a true leader and we know that much of what he said, the solutions advocated, although unpleasant, were realistic, correct, and the best we could have had because they were workable and within the capabilities of the Cypriot and Greek people.
The role of a leader is actually to lead, not to follow. To weigh the matters at hand objectively and base policies on common sense, not demagoguery. Case-in-point: Eleftherios Venizelos.
But, usually, people do not want to hear the truth. They would rather live in denial, kick the can down the road, leave the problems for another generation. But time and events will not wait.
As is often the case, what seemed doable but unpleasant at the time for Cyprus is now seen as a missed opportunity. And the people, finally realizing this, reward Clerides, who told them the truth, who respected them, who paid a personal price for serving the interest of his country. So, now they honor him. When he is gone.
Eternal be his memory.