A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


April 25, 2014

Lessons from a shipwreck to a shipwrecked country

More articles by »
Written by: M P


By Maria Patsarika

This is not an easy piece to write.

The tragic April 2014 ferry accident in South Korea, better deserves a an expression of humble, silent sympathy with the mourning families. Watching the story unravel on the news these days, however, one image kept coming back: inside the gymnasium, where the relatives of missing passengers are gathered, a woman confronts a police chief and, devastated as she is, feebly attacks him. And yet, the police chief doesn’t push her back; there is no attempt on the part of the police officers present to take her away in fear of attacks to the police chief. Instead, he sits still, head down, receiving her angry “whys” with such dignity and deep sense of responsibility.

Never before have I seen responsibility so vividly embodied in a man.

“The words honor and responsibility are deeply engrained in their culture,” a friend says, as we’re sharing thoughts. I protest: “This is not about culture, this is about humanity!” It’s impressive how painstakingly the South Korean authorities investigate all those involved in the accident, from the ferry crew to the marine company executives on possible charges.

Devastatingly, even, the vice principal committed suicide after surviving the disaster, overcome by guilt for being rescued, while hundreds of students died. It’s one of those rare moments where one can see authorities and police forces lowering the head, accepting accountability, acting to offer relief to the people, reaching people.

This is an impossible juxtaposition, one would say. Why would our authorities apologize for the economic, social, political demise of our country? Why should they be held accountable for the suicides of hundreds of Greek citizens who lost their fortunes? Why would one protest against the violence on the streets and the deaths of innocent protestors, which unfolded under the gaze of police forces and the MAT (Units for the Reinstatement of Order)? The end justifies the means; after all, we can now boast about a primary surplus.

This is not about welcoming a blame culture. It is not about rejoicing the aftermath of tragic shipwrecks, literally and figuratively. It’s about experiencing that vital essence of citizenship, where citizens and state are one, striving towards a common goal and acting in justice.


Be the first to comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.

The Latest