Silence of The Lambs

by Greek Reporter

While this writer avoids catchy titles, the further we were working on this article the fitter the title seemed. So how can the Greeks been so silent when a huge experiment is taking place on their backs?

The Greek family has already lost 30% of its income in pay cuts and new taxes, a situation that would already have pushed most Europeans onto the streets. And at this writing the Greek Tri-Party government is deciding on an imposed further 20% in reduction to the minimum wage. In effect they are enforcing poverty to the benefit of the lender’s banks. And still things are quiet. For a city of almost 5 million, this week’s 10,000 protesters make hardly a serious rally.

Maybe people are mourning in silence. Maybe they consider themselves too proud to shout their poverty on the streets; maybe their are reserving their strength for the coming elections or the next big rally; maybe they are venting off over the Internet and in the coffee shops with their friends, complaining about the general passivity like it is not their business too.

SheepBut how can it be? How can the people become placid and not react? We can define a wide range of reasons that work together to that effect. Some have to do with the peculiarities of the Greek psyche, some are common to all people.

The reality is that Greece was caught in a new situation that threatened its economic existence overnight. The Greek common man was far too ignorant of his country’s chaotic economics and totally unprepared, not only to deal with the new evolving situation, but to even understand the true implications of the situation. In simple words he was shocked numb. Some even say he was shocked to despair.

Then Denial came. Two years latter, there are people that do not watch the news on the TV. While their determination to avoid propaganda is admirable, it seems it turned out to be a bad choice since they are now markedly under-informed of the Greek and International happenings. Especially when things, nowadays, develop overnight. One can say that even Normalcy Bias is at play here since we have been living a cherry life on borrowed money for too long.

Attributing to that is the fact that the vast majority of the Greek population cannot cope with the complexities of today’s world where interests in economics, politics and global-strategics are in constant play. They subconsciously know this, but they choose to detach themselves from the problem rather than face the situation. They are turning off their TVs and refusing to listen to the grave news, even as others decide, not only their fate, but their living conditions and food on the table.

No one can blame them on the TV part. The media in Greece are sold off to the major parties and cannot be possibly speaking the whole truth and nothing but. Instead, we are receiving of mixture of half-truths and diversionary tactics like the new phrasing for the relinquishment of State sovereignty, the “resistance to the Troika dictated budgetary measures”. Ever since the start of the crisis we are on the receiving end of constant bad news, outright propaganda and the rehashing of the Greek government's extortion schemes. The latest powerplay of “we would rather have people with lower wages than risk loosing them” is an example.

But above all, it is that the people know that there can be no alternate ways out of the situation since there can be no realistic and working suggestions coming from any kind of political institution. You see, current Greek political entities have their roots in the revolution against the Greek military Junta of the 60s-70s. It is precisely these people that cashed in their struggle for seats in the Greek parliament and the well-paying government organizations, thus becoming part of today’s problem. When the corrupt and self-interested politicians are all over the board it is hard to expect any changes to a better future.

At the same time the people realize that it is their reflection on the board that they see. It is their inability to think and envision a new kind of politics and to form a reformed, effective administration. And to a certain extent they cannot help voting wrong again. To a certain extent it is not their fault because along with the citizenry and the politicians, the thinking, intellectual people that are needed as a counter balance to the decay of morals have degenerated also.

Even more horrible, there are people that seek the destruction and the default. For the benign interest of vindicating their anti-EU positions and to claim the righteousness of their Dogmas, while at the same time, fishing for new followers that will bring themselves power.

Another factor in the Greek populace silence is guilt. We all admit that the age of prosperity on borrowed money was a benefit while it lasted. But some have benefited big from their political parties and their ends in the corrupted government, putting family members and relatives in select positions. Their lords expect them to mourn in silence now.

Similarly, the great mass had exchanged that fleeting prosperity with tolerance to politicians that decided to follow the easy way to false prosperity. To a certain extent some are seeing this as fitting punishment, though this writer begs to differ and sees it as self-pity and a desperate self-destruction.

One more reason for the silence stems from the influence of the Greek Orthodox Christian faith on the population, especially the elders. Among its teachings is “karteria”, which can be translated as the combination of perseverance, stamina and patience in the hope of divine intervention.

Similarly linked to the Greek faith and traditions is the acceptance of faith and a peculiar mourning of its blights. These, to phrase it boldly and simply, have instilled a passivity unknown to the rest of the western world, which is exactly the opposite of what the country needs.

Practical Implications

While this article can be described as yet more crying over spilled milk, there are still things to be gained by those that see their country following Greece’s path.

It will not be easy to go through the emotions, decide, and take a stance. Not when your family is facing unemployment and hunger. You will have to sort through the dogmas and the persons, and what they are worth. In the process you will be presented with the whole truth (rarely), half truth and lies packaged as the truth.

You will be facing a situation that will be dragging on as no one will risk stepping in to take the hard decisions that will change the course. You will be surrounded with those that will gladly compromise for less their worth because they are dependent of the system and thus chose not to try. And you will be grieved to see social cohesion falling apart.

But do not forget that tolerance breeds audacity. And you’ve got to have an educated and responsible citizenry ready to take matter in its hands because you cannot possibly expect a solution from the same people that brought you there.

Ending

Many of my countrymen are saying that Greece is a pressure cooker that is building up the steam to explode. I have my doubts at that. At least it has not started yet.

What I am hearing is a phrase spoken more and more as the situation drags on. “It is better to have a dreadful end than have dread without end”.

That may prove to be yet more dangerous.

Greek Reporter, 9 February, 2012

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