A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


March 27, 2012

Sins of our fathers

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Written by: DW

By David Wisner

On days like this past Sunday (March 25) we celebrate the heroic exploits of our forebears. We characteristically posit that knowledge of such exploits constitutes one of the cornerstones of modern citizenship.

What a contrast with our own elders, one might muse. Indeed, like many before it, our age is prone to juxtapose the virtues of heroes from bygone times with the foibles of those who have more recently mortgaged our children’s future for want of the courage to forego facile solutions to society’s ills. Pygmies on the shoulders of giants, I hear you say.

Is the distinction valid? Let me answer by way of a simple anecdote. I was with my then six year old daughter at a local public park some months ago. Two boys, slightly older, were kicking a soccer ball while their respective fathers were sitting at a nearby café. At one point one of the boys began defacing a sign at the park. His father admonished him thrice, only to be ignored. Finally, the child succeeded in breaking the sign and throwing it into the street, despite his father’s continued rebukes. As the boy turned his back contemptuously the father returned to sipping his coffee. “Ti na kano…” he shrugged.*

To an extent, I can understand where this boy’s parents are coming from. To keep up appearances, to maintain their hard-earned affluence, my neighbors – husbands and wives – work a lot, all but abandoning their children to make do as can be made do. So it is not uncommon to see hordes of school children out on the streets of my neighborhood till late at night, a 21st-century gilded youth blissfully unaware of the crisis that has gripped this country.

The Romans believed that one’s character was cast from the first. Accordingly, it is not difficult to imagine that little boy in a decade or two, throwing Molotov cocktails at the riot police, going on strike whenever Parliament passes a law he does not like, grumbling about the iniquities of life as he games the system to his benefit. Here, it would seem, is the source of the Greek crisis in a thumbnail.

If only it were so simple. I talk a lot with Greek youth and I sense that they have a clear idea what they want from their state. It is evident furthermore that they are for the most part deeply dissatisfied with their political system – much more so than in the UK for instance. On the other hand, they are less articulate about what they are willing to sacrifice for the privilege of calling themselves Hellenes, but not for want of trying.

It will thus simply not do to shrug one’s shoulders fatalistically to the utterance, “what can I do about it…” You see, before one can speak of reforming the state one must reform the practice of parenthood. Alas no one teaches us how to be parents, let alone citizens.

*”What can I do…”

One Comment


    I think this is a real great blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

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