Nikos Vatopoulos NIKOS VATOPOULOS

The defenseless citizen

COMMENT

The deep emotions produced by the tragic scenes of fire burning forests and mountainsides are desperate for relief. Between logic and emotion, there should be room for experience and knowledge, as it is understandable that tempers are much shorter in the face of so much destruction of the environment and property.

Before the threat from the fires has even been neutralized, political responsibility is demanded. The only thing that is certain is that there are many who are responsible for things like this when they happen so often every summer in our country. The disastrous fires northeast of Athens as well as other parts of the country recently have shown us yet again that Greece is a country where a large part of the public sector is without a state infrastructure. The average citizen feels defenseless when a forest fire ignites. The fire in Kalamos is yet another example of the rift between a citizen who’s being punished and a state whose apparatus is slow to act.

The average citizen already thinks the ability of the “state mechanism” to prepare for and respond to such situations is laughable. This is because it is clear that there is a lack of coordination and leadership. This kind of criticism directed at the state, however, can also be directed at certain citizens themselves, like those who trespass, those who mistreat the environment, and those who seek to justify illegal building. These are the people who are easily demonized and on such instances of fire disasters become targets of popular anger. On the other hand, you have the state talking about arson before a plan to manage and respond to the disaster has even been presented.

This mentality, combined with the incompetence of the state, makes such disasters that much worse. Beyond all this, it is important to remember the truly defenseless citizen. The one who pays their taxes and is happy to do so in order for money to go toward essential public services. The one who truly loves their country and feels a true sense of great pain and despair whenever they see their homeland burning.

Before these citizens, who make up a critical portion of the electorate, there is a wall and nobody is around to listen to them. Nobody is around to reassure them that in the face of a real possibility of disaster that they have a safety net in a republic which is constantly being modernized.

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