We can put up with nature, but what about people?

By Pantelis Boukalas

Enceladus continues to strike Cephalonia while rough seas hamper relief efforts and low temperatures torment the Ionian island’s quake-rattled population. But the people of Cephalonia are trying to take it in their stride. After all, they know that there is only so much humans can do when faced with the forces of nature. At best, they can mitigate the impact and only if they operate in accordance with a good plan – that is when they keep “Greek particularities” at bay.

The islanders could cope with nature’s adversities by putting to use their experience with earthquakes – which almost seems to be passing from one generation to the next – and, of course, with their good sense of humor – particularly the people of Lixouri, who are famous for poking fun at themselves.

The people of Cephalonia are still using their sense of humor – which also appears to be in their DNA – to joke about the state and to provide comfort to one another. Their main source of support after disaster struck was a wave of solidarity across the island which easily took precedence over a long tradition of local antagonisms (a nationwide trait in a country that is to a large extent still a collection of city-states).

So, the Cephalonians can put up with nature. It is humans they have a problem with. And here we are not just talking about those who will soon find opportunities to make money from the pain and suffering of their fellow humans, but also about the cynics out there who like to make a political issue of all the wounds caused by the quake only to then style themselves as the most suitable healers.

And then there are the seismologists. After keeping a relatively low profile in the early days after the first quake, when they reduced themselves to some critical innuendos, they are now upping the ante. They are thereby sowing fear. People listen to them with caution out of respect for their scientific credentials. But watching them attack each other, although they are not behind the closed doors of some academic conference, causes uncertainty and confusion.

As a result, people turn to the media – especially TV and radio. What they see is an ocean of scaremongering. Meanwhile, instead of being a fast source of information, the Internet is subjected to the abuse of anonymous users as a means of mass terror.

They have some nice oaths in Cephalonia, Some of the local curses, as we also know from poet and writer Nikos Kavadias, involve Gerasimos, the local patron saint. We should not provoke the Cephalonians too much, because it will not be long before the curses start flying in our direction.