What is lost in the fire

By Nikos Konstandaras

What is lost in the fire may be greater than that which we feared to lose. The neoclassical building that housed the Attikon cinema was one of the most beautiful in Athens, among the very few that reminded us of what our city could have become if we had respected its past, if we cared about its present and its future. Perhaps it was a fitting sacrifice ? a symbol of our rush to destroy because we cannot create, an expression of our need to abandon memories and pass into the future, blackened with ashes and rage.

What is lost in the flames may be greater than the incomes that will be reduced, greater than percentages of wages and pensions, greater than deposits lost and hopes abandoned. What is at greatest risk is our identity, our civilization. If we cannot stay in the eurozone, if we find ourselves on Europe's edge, we will be defeated, humiliated and alone.

We will not lose only in the economic sense, but we will quickly surrender to behaviors that always plagued us and which our accession to Europe did not manage to eliminate. It is not a coincidence that we are champions in the number of European Court rulings against us for human rights violations, for crimes against the environment, for our malfunctioning justice system, and so on. If we were already so indifferent to our country's future, to our quality of life, if EU regulations could not limit our sloppiness, incompetence and indifference, what will make us better when we find ourselves in proud isolation?

Today it is not hugely important whether Parliament passed the agreement for a new loan and debt reduction, nor whether on Wednesday our eurozone partners will decide whether to keep us on the respirator. What matters more is the fact that we cannot seem to escape the weaknesses which trapped us on this course to destruction. On Sunday we again saw our politicians skirmishing in Parliament, as if they still had the luxury of division and false narratives, as if they could keep looking for external threats when that which is killing us is the plague within our walls. Again we saw the popular rage which feeds off the indifference of our leaders, who do not inform citizens, who do not inspire them, who do not make them feel that someone cares for them, that no one will be left behind. Our incompetent state does to citizens what Europe does to Greece ? it condemns them to deprivation and insecurity and then sits back and watches them flounder and react and fall into dead ends.

Our only hope is that within the collapsing political system there are still enough politicians who dare to carry the burden of this difficult time, when others think only of their careers, as popular rage grows dangerously. The flames are licking at our future and at the vision of Europe.