Penny's Blog

Greece: the country of so many faces, like any other


Greece is known for many things, most of them good, some of them bad. It’s a country known for its beauty, its endless supply of sun, blue skies and pristine sea, but, it’s also a country that has endured a lot of suffering and struggles. Somebody once told me the Holland also had a difficult past and they are in a much better situation now. I almost laughed Greece has been through occupation after occupation and in the last century alone had to deal with a 2 world wars, an obligatory exchange of populations with Turkey, a coup and a civil war. So what is going on in Greece right now? Well, too many things to describe in just one post. What I would like to concentrate on though is the two faces of the refugee crisis.

There are a lot of issues that Greece is facing right now regarding refugees, anyone who watches news knows about the borders being closed and fences being built and the boats that sink in the Aegean Sea. What they don’t know is that this problem is not new. For years now refugees and immigrants are entering the Greek borders through the sea. They pay people who exploit their need to transfer them in Greece and these people leave them to drown. And let me tell you that this image of calm waters and blue sky is not always the case, especially in the winter. What I am describing here means that a lot of the refugees are not collected as refugees but as castaways, which is a much different status legally.

All of the above could be discussed for hours and hours but what always amazes me with my country is that on every situation we see those who are humans and those who see a profit in the misery and desperation of another human being. So on the one hand, there are those who sell water for 2 euros instead of 50 cents, those who sell tickets from Piraeus to FYROM while the borders are closed and on the other, those who give away sandwiches for free, who set up projectors for the children to watch cartoons and those who would even host refugees in their homes. So I think it is very common and preferable to discuss why these refugees come here, how harmful it might be for our societies or dangerous for our children or profitable for our economies in the long run, but what I am trying to address here is the fact that in situations like these we fail to look, as we say in Greece, behind our own backs.

Is the problem the refugees or does a problem like that show how rotten we are as societies, as a union or even as humans? In Greece we have a word “Anthropia” which could be translated as humanitarianism but its essence is that you show kindness and respect to everyone regardless of their status, position or descent. Where did our Anthropia go? We are more eager to exploit others rather than help them. We keep saying how Europe is not helping us, how we are suffering and we have no money and no jobs, no prospects and then we somehow see desperate people with no prospect as a threat or even as a means to fill our empty pockets. I am sad to admit that I more often disgusted rather than proud of the news related to my country but at least I am thankful that we are not all like this. We have been through a lot and some of us remember understand or imagine how being desperate feels, like the people on the link below.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/24/greek-islanders-to-be-nominated-nobel-peace-prize