Greece may be the birthplace of logic, but there are times when nothing seems to make sense and all you can do is extend a five-finger salute (AKA ‘mountza’) toward the Government, like the protagonist in Alexandros Papadiamantis’ story ‘Pantarotas’. Emulating Papadiamantis’ hero Captain Alexis Kaloskeris, citizens ‘saluted’ the Government as they helplessly watched wildfires devour Greece for yet another year, while human traffickers operate above the law.
Over the past seven years, nearly a quarter of the forestry in Attica has been charred. Aside from the destruction of natural resources and property, the country has also mourned the loss of human life. Public opinion is divided on the cause of the fires, with some citing fossil-fuel emissions responsible for climate change as a leading factor, and others attributing them to sinister plans to declassify forests and use the space to install renewable energy sources like wind farms. Whatever the true cause(s), immediate measures must be taken to respond to the growing threat.
Sadly, the media seems primarily concerned with wildfires to fill the gap in the news during the dog days of summer – they forget the issue during the rest of the year, only to have it reappear the following summer, worse than before.
Instead, ongoing oversight should exist to ensure the creation of forest pathways, wider safety zones, and the introduction of indigenous flat-leaved trees delaying the spread of fires to replace pines during reforestation. ‘Heretical’ proposals like harvesting forest biomass serving as fodder for the wildfires should also be discussed.
Meanwhile, this chaotic backdrop is complemented by reports of human traffickers crossing the border at will and endangering the lives of patrol guards and citizens alike. To avoid arrest, they ram patrol vehicles or vessels, fire live rounds, and drive the wrong way on the highway during high-speed chases. Last month, they killed a couple and injured their children when they crashed into their car while evading arrest. In another instance, two traffickers were released(!) until their trial date, after crashing into a bus during a getaway. Moreover, last month authorities charged 21 persons, including members of a Lesvos-based NGO, as accessories to human trafficking, with revenues from their criminal activity estimated at over 10 million euro annually.
Amidst this chaos, the public and private sector alike continue to rigorously target the average citizen. The slightest bank transaction requires a background check that intelligence agencies would envy, while the red tape associated with family estates has become unmanageable due to constantly changing laws and added taxes and penalties. It’s as if the Government has sworn to punish households and reward lawbreakers. Accessories to the multi-million dollar human trafficking enterprise are rewarded with grants and handouts, while the actual traffickers themselves receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist – if they are caught.
From time to time, Governments will use buzzwords like ‘modernization’, ‘re-establishment of the state’, or the ‘executive state’ to create a false sense of progress.
In reality, though, a fundamental change in the mentality or establishment of a culture of safety is still greatly lacking. Households are not rewarded for playing by the rules, mayhem-makers go unpunished, and citizens are left to fend for themselves and contend with a parasitic state that targets its very own production base.
It’s been said that God must truly love Greece to intervene and save it, despite the best efforts of the establishment to the contrary.
Seeing as August is dedicated to the Theotokos, it’s worth supplicating her on behalf of our ancestral homeland. Despite its shortcomings, the Greek people have never ceased to praise her and her Son with fervent love and devotion, offering them the most fragrant flowers that the Greek language has to offer! Politicians with a little bit of ‘philotimo’ should do likewise and emulate the Byzantine ruler Theodore Doukas Laskaris, who wrote the Great Paraklesis to the Theotokos after being exiled by the Latins (a fate that inherently awaits contemporary leaders as well once they cease to be useful to the centers of power inside and out of the country – as ex-Premier Alexis Tsipras is now learning). Indicatively, Laskaris writes: “from whom else am I to seek refuge, o pure one, to where shall I run to be saved? Where shall I turn?…You are my only hope, my only pride, to you do I place my trust as I seek refuge.”
While chaos may sometimes abound in Greece, thankfully, so does the ‘scandalous’ love that the Theotokos shows for the country, whose people melodically affirm that: “all the generations magnify you, the only Theotokos. You have surpassed the boundaries of nature… remaining a Virgin after birth and alive after death, save your inheritance perennially, o Thetokos.”
Follow me on Twitter@ctripoulas