Re-elections are coming up on June 17th and the EU’s boot is firmly on the throat of Greece while the world watches. The pressure is on…
It may seem hard to believe how ‘under pressure’ life is for most people in Greece at the moment. After all, there are many countries that have far greater problems with poverty and unemployment. Other countries have defaulted and survived. Christine Lagarde of the IMF would have the world believe that it is ‘payback time’ and the problem is caused by tax evasion. And there are facts to back up all these statements, yet the truth is something more than a few facts. Well, at least in ancient Hellenic it is…
The ancient Hellenic word Aletheia is often translated to ‘truth’ in English but it lacks the definitive and limited perception of reality as confined to facts that is so common to the English conception. Aletheia is the correspondence of reason to reality. And reality is as much a search for being as it is an accumulation of various types of knowledge of the world in which we live. This central difference in conception perhaps explains why different perceptions of the crisis and the solutions to it exist.
I read between 40 to 60 newspaper reports on Greece every day. One could say that I am fascinated by the unfolding events and how the reports measure up to reality as I see it. But it is a gory fascination…like ambulance chasing. The situation is so uncertain and speculation so rife that it is akin to watching a plane crash out of the sky in slow motion. Just about anything could happen. And I am not alone.
The crisis is all everyone in Greece talks about these days. We watch the news to see what disaster will come next. We watch the growing groups of unemployed people gather in parks with grim faces to discuss their mounting problems. We walk through the towns and cities past the empty shops. We talk to the owners of the small to medium size businesses that close with each passing month. We drive past the shop owners and employees who gather in the streets outside their shops to pass the time due to a lack of business.
Some of us are fortunate and still have regular to semi-regular incomes and food on our table. Every week we hear of someone who lost their business, lost their jobs, had to get food from a soup kitchen. We all have unemployed family members (often with small children). And we know that they were just like us last week, or last month, or last year. Their fate could well be our own destiny. We live in fear of losing whatever it is that we do have.
This fear is a palpable part of our reality and our truth. Our reactions collectively exemplify our Aletheia; our reason corresponding to our reality. And the fear dichotomises us into different polar extremities, both political and social.
Pro-EMU/anti-EMU, Pro EU/anti-EU, pro-austerity/anti-austerity, left wing/right wing, rich/poor, employed/unemployed… Greece is a bubbling cauldron of divergent opinions about the reality of the economic crisis. Why? Because the different ways in which the crisis has affected different areas and income groups has resulted in chasms of perception. We all see the reality but we disagree on what it is and what reason should be applied to it. In other words We seem to live different truths determined by our individual circumstances, and we find common ground with those affected similarly.
Then there are those who neither read newspapers nor watch the news. They tune in daily to the soap operas, sitcoms and mindless magazine programmes. They refuse to watch the plane fall. They would rather not know where and who it hits. The only information they receive about the crisis is what affects them directly (the causes of which they are vague and ambivalent about). Their opinions are formed by whatever distorted titbits of news events they hear from their friends and family. These people make up a large percentage of those who did not vote in the last election and do not plan to vote in this one either.
Fear… it makes us cling wide-eyed to the unknown and blindly to the known all at once. It makes no difference whether one watches the plane fall or buries one’s head in the sand. It is all about fear. The results of the last elections [and in all the likelihood the next ones too will] illustrate the chasms of perception that have opened up between a dichomitised country. The results are the quiet secret palpitations of fear made manifest