Saturday, October 22, 2011


The current US economic conflict reminds me of the time I worked in Greece.  At first we lived with 20% inflation!  You might understand how crazy that was.  However, the money we made went SO much farther than many years later (when inflation was officially 2-3%-though, in actuality, it was really much higher) when I left.  When change comes too quickly, people rise up.  Change, especially negative change, is difficult to assimilate.  

The gap between generations is felt much more than in other Western countries. Advances are moving much more quickly than in other western countries. However how are they responding politically?  They are responding in the traditional democratic way, a way they are very proud they initiated!  Evidence:  the regular and frequent demonstrations held in Greece. In this effort they seem united.

It is easy to blame Greeks for the economic problems; they are generally disorganized (they are not Germans).  Tax evasion has been joked about as being the national sport.  There are very understandable reasons for this, however. 

These economical problems were a long time coming from outside of Greece, from the European Union and banks. And now their backs are really against the wall.  Most Greeks did not want to be a part of the European Union.  And now they are paying the price.

Greeks are not naive.  They are aware of the rampant corruption in government and big business.  Small business is being driven out.  (And small business is a strong tradition in Greece!)

Greeks feel they are slaves to the current system!  Their attitude is:  why should I pay taxes when most of it goes into the pockets of corrupt politicians and business owners?! Time and time again, Greeks have been proven that they are correct in this assumption.

I believe in these instances they are generally right. Greeks are a very proud people and have no compunction in doing whatever it takes to survive.  And more power to them!

Some Greeks are holding on to a beautiful lifestyle with money earned during times of prosperity. However, as usual, the middle and lower classes (economically speaking) are suffering--really suffering.

This level of this poverty is difficult to imagine for a European.  The primitive level lifestyle in some areas, especially in small villages, can be shocking to the average US citizen.  The positive side is that those poorer people living in the far off places in Greece know how to survive!  (How many of us know those skills?) 

This is a culture that does not often censor their thoughts.  They are passionate and vocal.  As it fits my character, I admire those national characteristics.

Greeks fight back.  They want to be free.  They may not know very well how to fight, but they are not cowards.  They have the small country mentality of fighting to survive, knowing that they are essentially alone.  (That is why their sympathy extends to other small countries, like Palestine that they support.)  Being an "underdog", they know what it is like.

What is their Achilles heel?  Their individualism is so strong that strong organization  becomes very difficult.  (They are, admittedly, not without their faults.)

I say, Bravo to the Greeks!  They lived under a veritable system of slavery for over 400 yrs. under the Turks and were only relatively recently “liberated” in 1922--and they don't forget. The country was only formed as it is known now at late as 1957.  Their memories are relatively fresh regarding how they suffered slavery.

I have never known a country to be more obsessed with freedom, at almost any cost.  They may not understand always the best way to go about keeping it; but I respect and admire them for their drive and ideals. 

Being under the thumb of Turkish domination has affected the Greek culture immensely.  Being at war in WWII and later in the civil war, the older people have not forgotten their trials and have passed on their memories to younger generations.

Now Greece has a strong youth culture that is in rebellion against outside forces that are threatening to ruin their lovely laid-back lifestyles.  A beautiful lifestyle.  A healthy, happy lifestyle.  It grieves me that they may lose it!

They may not be as strategically important to the US as Turkey or other countries, but it would be a great mistake on the part of the US not to value and preserve what Greece has to offer!


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