When I started this blog I decided not to talk about politics. However, I stand by Carol Hanisch’s aphorism, the personal is political. Now, what can the personal be? So many different things, stuff we understand and experience but also the untold, unseen and unspoken. It’s everything and anything – kinda like the definition of materiality, the thingness of things, and I’m not solely talking about the material entities here but also the intangible ones.
I understand my introduction may appear strange to several readers – bear with me though. There’s a point in all this.
The reason I decided to write a post is because I have been reading extensively about “the situation in Greece” – my home country. Nowadays, “the situation” comprises pretty much everything that is related to the political – the crisis, debt, economy, government, law, social issues and again, politics.
There are still some people in Greece that are trying to explain and make sense of all “this”. I’ve read so many diverse and interesting articles that are being published daily on free-press, digital journals, blogs and so on. As it happens, social media are highly important for the Greek peoples’ communication and understanding of the “situation”. There’s a high level of mistrust to the mainstream media companies and localised online social media act as a communication hub for the Greeks.
One of the main problems that are expressed by a portion of the population is the rise of the extremist party, Golden Dawn. I read several negative comments about their fascist ideology but I have also observed several people on Facebook or Twitter supporting their views. However, the problem is not Golden Dawn. It’s something way more deeper than this.
Last week in my home town, a 15-year old girl committed suicide. Few days ago, a 30-year old man hung himself. Now, to make it clear, I don’t know the reasons behind those suicides. One question was lingering in the press but also society: why? Why would anyone want to kill themselves? They were from a “good family”, their parents “were wealthy”, they had all they could ever wish for. Or did they?
As I said to my mother today, I can think of ten different reasons from the top of my head why anyone would want to kill themselves in Greece, in 2012. Even if they were “from a good family” or even if they had a “good job”. See, in Greece, we always bragged about being the cradle of civilisation, and it’s true until the time we stopped progressing. Historians would be better at pointing out that moment in time.
Greece never put up with the industrial revolution. I come from a generation that I was taught that I should do the least and try to make as much as possible so that I can live my life and be happy and free. But how can I be free? What is freedom? Living in suppression because social etiquette requires me, a woman, to become a good wife? My aunt didn’t want to go to university because she was scared that she wouldn’t be able to find a good husband if she was educated – that was in the late ‘60s early ‘70s. And I wouldn’t call my uncle a good husband, in any current or parallel universe.
A Greek friend of mine posted on Facebook today that “At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle “You’re next!”. They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals.” “You’re next!” is the society’s wish.
Social etiquette is Greece’s biggest problem. If you’re foreign, “xenos”, you’re a barbarian. If you’re gay you’re damned to hell – or even worse, damned to be pointed out by society (daktilodeiktoumenos). We have so many different phobias in Greece. But mainly, we are progressphobics. And we care a lot about what “other people will say”.
I find it completely disturbing that there are young educated people that cannot think outside the Greek social status box. And they are reproducing a society that is responsible for this “situation” in Greece. You must study. Go to university. Become a doctor/lawyer/anything prestigious that offers professional longevity. Get a proper job where you won’t have to work a lot, but will earn you wealth. Marry a nice man/woman. Have children. Raise them to be good like yourself. Die in peace. “This is how things are done here.”
But of course, in Greece we’re great at developing and expressing bullying – “tsampoukas” (τσαμπουκάς) as we call it, borrowing the Turkish word çabuka. And we brag a lot about it, because we don’t allow anyone to tell us what to do. That’s pretty much the technique Golden Dawn uses. To my disappointment, some bright and educated people jokingly use the expression: “Be quiet, or I’ll call Golden Dawn!”, followed by laughs. It’s not funny. It will never be.
When will we stop being so blindfolded? All the answers are in front of us – why Golden Dawn is so popular, why would young people want to kill themselves, you name it. The problem remains that we don’t know how to love and by extension, how to live.
Some of us are fighting for a better future, believe it or not. And by better I mean anything related to true happiness that stems from within our hearts; freedom of expression, harmony and well-being. A place and time that we won’t be afraid to live! In some respects, we only live once. But there are several ways to make it worth.