Last year, the phrase “I’m off to get a passport” became a joke shared among many who felt that the choices of the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition were leading the country to disaster. Perhaps they said it half-jokingly, but at the time there was a prevailing feeling that if worse came to worst they would seek refuge in a foreign, preferably European, country.
This is no longer the case. The migrant crisis, the failed Turkish coup, Brexit, Islamic fundamentalism, Europe’s extreme right, the war in Syria and also the Russian factor are all adding up to an international crisis whose first signs emerged on September 11, 2001, followed by the financial meltdown of 2008.
In the wake of news showing Donald Trump leading over Hillary Clinton, the joke has become a lot less amusing and we are now in search of a different planet.
The world is changing and as is customary at every turn of the century, the 21st century is starting to show its true face – or perhaps we are now beginning to distinguish its features. Comparatively speaking, the massacre of WWI in 1914 led to an incalculable collective psychological shock, primarily in Europe. Until then, nearly everyone believed that following the industrial and scientific revolutions at the end of the 19th century, there was only one direction for the world to take and that was forward. The trenches, however, put an end to the dream. And, as we now know, there was more, even worse, to come.
Nevertheless, the world only moves forward, even if it’s hard to see the big picture amid the gloom of war, migration, hunger and genocide. Despite the crematoria and constant fears of a nuclear holocaust, the 20th century brought about the end of colonization, peace and unprecedented prosperity, even beyond Western borders.
The facts, therefore, are changing and clearly, despite all the good things that the new century is bringing, changes are never pleasant and painless. At the same time, there have always been nations and populations who have been less fortunate than others in this framework of global transformations.
The crucial question as far as Greece is concerned is the following: Will Greece be among the more or the less fortunate? Despite everything that has plagued the country, Greece has always ended on the winners’ side at times of major crisis. Despite tragedies such as Asia Minor, the Nazi occupation in WWII, civil war, the military dictatorship and the invasion of Cyprus, Greece stood on its feet.
To a large extent, this was due to the way certain political figures handled each situations. Today’s global challenges require a serious and responsible government, and unfortunately this is something the country doesn’t have right now.