The new battle of Navarino

By Nikos Xydakis

Everyone is feeling it: We did all that we could, and well past our level of tolerance. We bled and we continue to bleed as the ranks of the unemployed swell, the recession deepens and more and more Greeks opt to seek a future abroad.

We did as we were told – in a state of shock and a great deal of suffering.

And now? Now our fates lie in the hands and the kindness of strangers. Like Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’s play “A Streetcar Named Desire,” we are putting our hopes in one final push from them, just as we did at Navarino.

The admiral in today’s battle is International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who is doing battle on our behalf and on behalf of the big powers outside of Europe to sink the debt that is sinking us. We – helpless and needy – watch the great battle raging on from the banks of a scorched Peloponnese.

As the ashes settle around us, we argue and fight as civil strife continues to mount, just as it always has. We fight over who’s more to blame, who opened the floodgates to all that is evil today, and mainly over who will command this bankrupt state, who will govern this tiny region called Greece, and who will be in charge of meting out what little is left to give and who will decide over the last handful of privileged positions in the public administration. We stab each other in the back, put each other down and bandy about threats.

We are still only halfway down the road to Hades.

The fabric that used to hold the old political establishment together is wearing thin and showing more and bigger holes, bringing more pain to society. But this destruction is also the only thing that can plant the seed of rebirth, of recreation, of rising back up to the surface from the path to Hades, whatever may happen on that surface in the future. We don’t know who we will surface with and who we will find when we do. Maybe now we cannot see the faces, the forms and the leaders of that time. But among Greeks all over the world, in their cities and on their islands, among the suffering ranks of the middle class and the well-educated youth of the diaspora, in the poets and the modest but brilliant scientists, throughout the pregnant silence that surrounds us and the inhibitions that hold us back, there are forces – dormant and numb right now – people who are worthy and honest and who are staying away from the noise and the dust of the fray.

We can survive the battle, if we change everything, from the form of our democratic governance to ourselves – especially ourselves.