Quite often, for the sake of a good news report, journalists focus on the events rather than the people who make them happen. But in reality, which of the two is more important? This is the case in the modern European “tragedy” in the making, dubbed “The Greek Situation”. Surely, everyone by now must know how difficult life is for Greeks and the struggles they have to face each day. But, is that the only truth worth mentioning?
Greeks never gave up and they never will. They are, of course, outraged by what is happening in the place that they grew up and hope that there will soon be a change. Otherwise, life is normal, without riots or anything. In fact, this whole “situation” has had a very positive side-effect. The values of words like family, friends, and community have been reestablished. To be more specific, solidarity is now an everyday practice and people are more and more willing to sacrifice a part of their ego and time to help alleviate someone else’s pain and suffering, even though they may have troubles themselves.
‘Solidarity’ in Greek is «Αλληλεγγύη», which literally means “Being close to each other”.
In the years leading up to the crisis, Greeks kept turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, because for them, they were something out of their world and had nothing to do with the success that they and their country were experiencing at that moment. Charity was a way of showing off wealth and was substantial proof that someone was better than others, not an act of true interest and a kind heart.
Many programs are in place today with the exact purpose of helping others. The results may be a bit inefficient, but that does not matter in this case. It is the act itself that matters and not the potential outcome. There are programs such as “The Communal Grocery Store” (Κοινωνικό Παντοπωλείο), where basic house supplies and food are gathered by citizens and then given to people in need for free. Other ones include “The Public Kitchen” (Δημοτική Κουζίνα), where a plate of homemade food can be found for as little as 50 cents, or the various initiatives of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, entitled “Mission” (Αποστολή), that have managed to support some 30,000 people every day. All of the above are only the tip of the iceberg; many public institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and public companies, have similar initiatives that provide food, pharmaceutical equipment, books, clothing or even toys for little children.
Specifically for children, the NGO “To Hamogelo tou Paidiou” (A children’s smile- Το χαμόγελο του παιδιού) has massively expanded its network and now supports thousands of children in all aspects of their life, ranging from helping combat serious illnesses to psychological support. Their most notable actions are in the “SOS Villages”, where orphaned or neglected children have the opportunity to grow up in a safe and normal environment that does not look like an orphanage.
The real acts that matter are the ones that take place every day and are difficult for the average person to observe, especially in big urban centers, such as Athens. These simple acts of kindness may seem like a drop of water in the ocean, and they definitely are, but that does not mean they are not important. On the contrary, these are the actions that should be celebrated since they reveal a real positive change that can help us see the bright side of things, even when all the lights have faded. Buying a train ticket for someone else who cannot afford one, letting them have your seat on the bus, helping an old lady cross the street: all of these definitely sound rather boring and pointless. Are they though? What is more, people are actually interested enough to participate in various charity events or give some of their much needed (and quite rare) money for the greater good. This mentality is on the rise and that can only bring about more good news.
Even though all of the above is true, it should be noted that it mostly applies to younger generations. This can be easily explained by considering that young people are experiencing the whole situation quite differently than all the other age groups. For them, it is their parents and grandparents who should be blamed for the whole thing. Thus, for youngsters, the mentality that they should try to be more responsible and rebuild in a more viable and just way is the motive that gives them strength and patience through this hard time. For them, having fewer luxuries or leading a simpler lifestyle may be a bit sad, but they accept it.
These are the true heroes of our time, the people that keep the Greek machine running. Heroes not mentioned in the media, heroes not seeking fame and fortune, heroes who won’t gain anything. Their actions emanate from a feeling of community and the will to end all suffering. A small beam of light is always needed. They know that they are not doing much, but does that truly matter? They surely have their own problems and worries, but does that necessarily mean others don’t have them as well? People with such pure emotions are hard to come by these days. They are like beacons that light the night sky.
And this phenomenon is not limited to Greece only. Every single nation has these rough diamonds and all over the world, they are not appreciated as much as they should be.
Greece will only collapse when these people stop caring – an event that seems to be quite far away right now. Neither debt nor corruption can destroy a whole nation. Only the people who make a nation what it is have that power. And as the sun keeps rising and the Greeks keep chomping on their Feta, it appears as if this won’t change. It is impossible for people and their actions to fade into oblivion.