A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


April 3, 2013

Open the doors/where are the people?

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Written by: DW

By David Wisner

Growing up my friends and I used to play a small game with our hands. We would start with our hands clasped, thumbs aligned, index fingers erect. “Here is the church/here is the steeple/open the doors/where are the people?” We would then interlock our fingers and perform the same series of steps: “Here is the church/here is the steeple/open the doors/see all the people” (with fingers wiggling).

I thought of this game when I began reading Daniel Gross’ recent assessment of the Cyprus crisis. “What does the Cyprus crisis mean for the EU?” he asks. Not for the people of Cyprus or of Europe. For the EU.

To read Gross, it seems that his is a world of facelessness. He feels comfortable among countries, markets and creditors, organizations and institutions. Open the doors/where are the people? One single reference to a specific decision-maker — Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem — one reference each to “the European taxpayer” and to “European policymakers.”

The closest Gross comes, in fact, to putting a human face on the crisis is a passing allusion, made in disapprobation, to a “revolt of Cyprus’s small savers.” I am reminded in fact of a line in Shakespeare’s Henry the Fourth in which Falstaff utters the lines, “Tut, tut; good enough to toss; food for powder, food for powder; they’ll fill a pit as well as better: tush, man, mortal men, mortal men” when Hal remarks how pitiful his troops appear. (Falstaff’s monologue prior to the entry of the Crown Prince on the stage is worth reciting here in full as one reflects on the shenanigans of the very real people who led their country into the mess it finds itself in now.

If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused
gurnet. I have misused the king’s press damnably.
I have got, in exchange of a hundred and fifty
soldiers, three hundred and odd pounds. I press me
none but good house-holders, yeoman’s sons; inquire
me out contracted bachelors, such as had been asked
twice on the banns; such a commodity of warm slaves,
as had as lieve hear the devil as a drum; such as
fear the report of a caliver worse than a struck
fowl or a hurt wild-duck…)

And so we worry about logical choices, and lessons, and solutions, precedents, and accountability, and realizations that someone, somewhere, somehow, makes. In this man’s Europe, you open the doors only to realize that it is an edifice devoid of people.


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