Τετάρτη, 4 Φεβρουαρίου 2009

Thoughts on December riots in Greece to present continuing social impasse


“Flowers to the police” message of the young Greek generation in response to the killing of an adolescent may be the way out of the crisis.

The events which followed the shooting of young Alexis in Athens by the police , surpass the issue of the police or their training, surpass the issue of the ministry, the issue of the younger generation, Exarcheia square or any other particular issue. No answer can be given, even if the Minister resigns, even if the Government steps down, as everybody deep inside knows that with the current system of values those who will succeed in office will be similar to those falling now under the pressure. It cannot be evaluated as a revolt with terms known from previous similar events in Greece.
We are facing a volcano like outbreak which flames out the impasse of Greek society due to political, cultural and environmental degradation. On one hand there is corruption and thirst for quick profit at any cost, on the other deep inequality, but round the corner we can see xenophobia and prejudice hand in hand with a black labor market based on immigration.
Citizens have reached an existential despair where everything is to blame but no one acts for the better or if he does, this seems futile within the circle of violence all around.
This is the result of chronic problems offered no solution other than let to slowly boil under the lid. A defective educational system, everyday aggressive behavior, lack of respect for the environment, for the country's beauty, indifference, lack of good role models in particular among politicians, mass tourism with frequent violent outbreaks, chaotic bureaucracy, public services against citizens, no long term visions, the orthodox church and its scandals, lack of respect to basic security needs, a really long list of reasons to poison everyday life, to which nobody really knows how to react.
As a result, lacking a better means of expressing their anger, young people have become violent believing that they are defending themselves. This traps the whole society in a vicious circle and the country seems impossible to control, as similarly wrong decisions are taken by the other side, ending to enhance violence rather than appeasing it.
As a wide problem it requires a wide solution.
Changes and reforms in all levels, yes, but foremost they should be also internal.
A new “civilization” is needed in Greece, a deep change of mentality. Everybody should reach an agreement with each other and himself to give more importance to common interests , common spaces, common tradition, common environment.
I don't want to sound ethical, but survival now dictates change in behavior. It should be understood that promoting ones own interest, within this current system in the end is not for the benefit of anybody.
The best message during the riots was given by the children who offered flowers to the police, the same day that their friend lay dead from their bullets. But this message was overwhelmingly overshadowed by images of violence, tear gas, molotov cocktail bombs and emerging new terrorist groups and a general disrespect for rule of law.
Only two days before, two unknown immigrants were beaten to death and thrown on a road side. No responsible was ever found. This event is of course not an isolated case. Immigrants too are trapped in Greece in a vicious circle of exploitation, bribery and periodical imprisonment under terrible conditions.
But how can this circle of violence end if we all are a bit guilty, when even our house has been built with black labor? Change needed seems too much to do and a lot of it is global too, but a lot is local.
The very recent decision of the mayor of Athens to destroy a park in order to create a private underground parking lot also turned into a violent conflict between the police and citizens. Similarly, the marches of protesting farmers turned also violent.

There is only one answer. A new Greek “democratic civilization” based on respect to each other, and respect for common interests, which is lacking in Greece. Politicians, who are seen as “ those above” should offer a positive role model, to begin overcoming the lack of mutual trust between them and citizens. Politicians should inspire and not rule by force, they should not be seen any longer as pursuing their own personal interests or the interests of private profit for companies but sincerely caring for the common values.

On the other hand, we need more protesters who understand that shaming their “enemy” with a symbolic act and a positive attitude is more effective than becoming same as them. We therefore need a better protesting culture, aimed to shame now shameless politicians, who obstinately refuse to take any real responsibility and can use violent outbreaks as an excuse to act even more violently.

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