Yesterday in Nafplio a “townhall” meeting of sorts was held in front of the mayor’s building where people gathered (those who heard about it, at least) and started a dialogue about their frustrations as Greek citizens, particularly after this past year where austerity measures enforced upon them are making many feel like they are being punched non-stop in the head.
(UPDATE: By the way, this small get-together is pretty insignificant compare to what was happening in the rest of Greece – which was buzzing with massive peaceful demonstrations this past week. The protests continue this weekend.)
Under pressure from the European Union and the IMF, the Greek government recently announced a new wave of austerity measures as it desperately tries to salvage a country long plagued by political corruption, rampant tax evasion and a host of other issues. The Greeks’ frustration at this decisive time is anger and frustration at the inept politicians who have been governing and stealing for far too long (and obviously opening foreign bank accounts to hide their indiscretions.) People are fed up with a political system that has by and large operated on dishonesty, greediness and hypocrisy. Why hypocrisy? Because now that the rope is around Greece’s neck and the noose is getting tighter, it is the hard-working Greek citizen who must pay the price. Literally. Higher taxes, higher gas prices, higher diesel prices, higher electricity rates, higher water rates. Prices are only going up. Jobs are being lost. No viable solutions are being offered. When is this going to end? Why should the average, struggling man/woman/child pay for a government that has never had their country’s interest at heart?
But I digress…what I wanted to say is that yesterday’s meeting was the first time in a long time when I felt HOPEFUL. I felt so much hope because there was a dialogue happening. The conversation wasn’t rife with yelling, or fighting, or bringing up political parties into the mix. It was about venting our frustrations and agreeing that we need to keep the dialogue going. No matter how negative the subject matter is, it must be discussed. A revolution can start small – with just a conversation, right?
Coincidentally the other day I was discussing this subject matter with an acquaintance – a 60-year-old man, in fact – and I told him that today’s young generation has nothing to give them hope, to react, and to entice change. I compared these recent years to 1960s and 1970s – the infamous years in which an entire generation got involved and made some real changes. And I didn’t just refer to the United States. Even in Greece there was upheaval at that time – leading to the overthrow of the junta, the military government which ruled Greece at that time. Those generations could envision a better future. They inspired each other. What about our generation though? We are painfully aware that a new Greek government will be just as corrupt and inept as the current one. So far this entire predicament we are in has felt endless, void of solutions and without hope for a better future.
Seeing both old people and young people gathered together, being open to each other and actually listening to one another was a tremendous experience for me. I left that meeting feeling hope and knowing that people are actually starting to care and they want to see a change for the better. It inspired ME to be more involved in the dialogue. I left that meeting with a pep in my step (which I’m sure I will get a ton of shit for by my sister…not for feeling happy, but for actually writing “pep in my step.” She can deal with it.)