The Greek state, as most know – or at least are in denial about – is rotten to its core. This is not some new phenomenon but rather has always been there and due to more ways of information gathering, we have become more conscious of it on a daily basis. It is important to note that Greece since the days of city-states, only came together in catastrophic scenarios that impacted everyone in the region, like the Persian Wars, the struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, and the Nazis in World War II. An obvious and intentional omission was made for the Balkan Wars and Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922 because while the goals were attainable Greeks were too busy fighting among themselves to claim the prize of getting Asia Minor back.
Fast forward precisely a century later and you have linguistic luminaries like Pavlos Polakis in Hellenic Parliament swearing like he is at a soccer match when he takes the floor to speak. Just this week, that SYRIZA voted ‘present’ on a brand new state-of-the-art children’s hospital project outside Thessaloniki, donated by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation was a disgrace. It was just the latest reminder that very few people in public life actually care about the fortunes of the country, much less even have a vision for it, but what is seemingly in abundance is the attitude that everything that the government goes to do is bad and therefore must be rejected without ever offering a better solution.
A timeless Greek quote that encapsulates a large majority of the neo-Hellenes is one that roughly translates to a local villager being given numerous options, such as having more land to cultivate, more livestock – anything. Instead, he only wants his neighbor’s goat to die.
Greece is imperfect and if the last 201 years are any indication, it will remain so. The New Democracy Government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is moving slower than originally promised in their campaign to make reforms, but the pandemic is a reasonable enough excuse – it has shuttered the whole world to some extent for two years. SYRIZA, whenever Prime Minister Mitsotakis outlines plans, not only votes them down and publicly disparages them, they routinely give the sorry claim that they would have done the same, if not better – but simply ran out of time when they were in government. It is a very roundabout way of saying either “we wish that we had thought of that” or “we were going to do that but didn’t have the competence or perhaps the nerve to execute it.”
No government is perfect, but the Greek electorate is also imperfect. They elect the same representatives over and over again while expecting a different outcome. Complaining is a national sport. Nothing is ever good enough and if someone has the audacity to do something to change the system everyone, including casual onlookers, go to bury that person – particularly when that person is a member of the Diaspora community. As history as shown us for thousands of years, Hellenes, when united, can perform miracles. Greece is on the precipice of a stronger military than it has had in recent decades, an investment hub the likes of which it has never been known to be, and a thriving tourism sector that is ready to build up the middle class and not just the rich. Instead of wanting the neighbor’s goat to die, I implore my fellow Hellenes to start applauding the neighbor for having the goat at all and to aspire to have one of their own too.
Greece is ready to leave misery and complaining behind and become the prosperous and dominant nation in southeastern Europe we all fundamentally know it can be.