Many in Greece today debate the effectiveness or otherwise of grandiose political decisions to save the nation but when it comes to expected participation of the ordinary citizen they tend to shy away. Very few underline the need for a fundamental change of attitude of the individual. They avoid delving because they know how difficult it is to effect such change.

A lot of positive economic activity in specific sectors such as hi-tech, that indicates an important potential for rapid recovery, is under way but it is sidelined by the media as it is the good news, not appropriate for the current climate of doom. Yet, it is a reminder that Greece is not Bangladesh as some suggested. So, there should be hope. But the fundamental challenge is still for the ordinary citizen to look at reality straight in the eyes. It is the key to open the door to this future of hope and healthy development on a harsh, difficult, long but unique path; with fewer but sufficient physical and manpower resources for a decent presence in Europe and the wider world.

There is a need for the ordinary citizen to comprehend the reality of today that calls for a huge effort to act. The message must be simple but substantive and intelligible. It must be flexible to adjust for each individual. The agents for its transmission are the more informed citizens but mainly the few respected intellectuals that should emerge from the cloudy world of their ideas and join the daily labour of ordinary citizens in order to communicate with them. The intellectual world has an obligation towards society which nourishes them and now looks up on them to create new leading signals of hope as the old ones have completely dried up.

The substance of the message is relatively simple. The nation passes a period of survival. Everyone can verify it looking around him and comparing with memories he received from his parents and more from his grandparents. To do this is not to turn back but to realise what went wrong with him. Everyone will draw his own conclusions but all will begin from the same reality. In this process he will see very clearly his own responsibilities. He will assess his shared responsibility as he sold his political conscience in order to place somebody in public administration, as he remained apathetic in massive spread of corruption practices, as he did not fulfil his financial obligations to the state because almost everybody else was doing the same and as in so many other cases. And finally decide and become ready to pay for these practices that destroyed the functioning of a fair and just society.

Starting from the inner circle of the family and close friends it is not difficult to see the consequences of the degradation of the core of social cohesion of Greek society. This powerful pillar which helped many previous generations to survive under tremendously difficult conditions of poverty and need, much more difficult than the current ones, was decomposed today on the altar of ruthless consumerism.

In the area of training and education it is not difficult to compare the training of citizens for the production needs of the country until the decade of 60s, when the activity of an agent of a foreign company was in its infancy with the current image of the highest level of university graduates, near zero local productive capacity with parallel gigantism of imports and mercantilism. Or, it is not difficult to see the collapse of quality of products and services offered from the country’s meagre natural resources such as agriculture, tourism and shipping; and more importantly the collapse of moral principles of a traditionally slender and conservative society.

Further out, in the workplace is not difficult to see the radical difference between the hard work for a wager which had as value the survival of the family then and one million plus officials of the public sector today who through their pervert unionised structures offer very little and are rewarded with fat compensation.

And finally, in the political arena it is not difficult to compare politicians who were dying penniless for the sake of their country with the modern image of an implicated politician with non-existent moral and national values who ends together with his tentacles in business and the media having in their possession large wealth from public coffers without any effective control.

Some “informed” commentators consider adequate understanding from the ordinary citizen of this situation as given but they are not right. Unless there is a sparkle of hope it is humane, as long as the edifice has not collapsed altogether, for a desperate person refusing to see a dead-end, staying inert and praying in isolation and despair for the impossible. Without guidance he defies logic posing his obligation to look deeper and in detail to the future under these conditions and what it entails for him and his children. This is why a wake up message to face reality and act is crucial at this stage.

A Greek by his nature and influence of the environment is a spirited and resourceful person. There is no attempt to placate here. This assessment has come many times by foreign anthropologists who complement it always with the endless list of weaknesses of the race. And recognize the continuity of the race from these characteristics. With this resourcefulness the Greek should be able to perceive the message of reality if it is thus presented as well as the need to participate in the affairs of common interest by actively supporting policies that deal effectively with current challenges. Indeed staring reality in the eyes will show immediately the direction for such policies. In summary they are:

-Overhaul of public administration at a shape, size and quality according to the size of the country, its creative potential and the level of social development of the nation.

-Complete overhaul of education system with two main strategic priorities. A medium term concerning the education of youth in order to cope with the current realities in a globalised world, armed above all with the invaluable national tradition. And an immediate one for the effective retraining of a large part of society that will face the challenge of professional reorientation as economic structures will be fundamentally reviewed and extremely useful human resources will be released, in particular by the public sector.

-Introduction of a national framework for economic development of the creative forces of society that must not be confused with plans for the development of a state controlled monster as until today which drove the country to the bottom of the productivity list worldwide.

-Creation of a social security network for the weakest and particularly poor pensioners, unemployed and people with disabilities.

-Establishment of immigration plan compatible with trends in other countries of the European Union with main aim to prevent immigration of our irreplaceable youth and full social integration of foreigners who have the potential to contribute to development and who want to settle in Greece under clear rules and regulations.

-Implementation of an effective procedure requiring all citizens, with priority cases of flagrant abuse of public wealth, to declare the sources of their wealth and review their dealing with fiscal authorities through the years.

-Effective programme for the registration and management of public property and other usurped national resources currently inaccessible to ensure the means for the implementation of the above.

In conclusion, it is imperative for the ordinary citizen to absorb this message of hope and become an active member in the common. To build his real public churches in order to impose his will that has been neglected so much because of his own apathy. He must realise that despondent, depressed, defeatist and isolated will be lost. Being an active member of a tightly knit family, a church of citizens, a healthy labour movement that must be rebuilt from its foundations and a cohesive Greek society as a whole has the power to decide about his future, difficult, lengthy and poor but decent. He must participate in building this specific vision if he wants to save his own future, of his children and of his country.

K. P. Vlahodimos

16 O1 2011

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