Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Over and above individuals and governments

COMMENT

TAGS: 1821 Anniversary, History, Society

Instead of celebrating the bicentennial of our independence from the Ottomans in the way we ought to and deserve, I wouldn’t put it beyond us to find another pretext to divide us.

This could entail insults on social media and clashes over whether the struggle for independence was class-based or not, as well as acrimonious debates over the role of the Church and other such things. 

Unfortunately we are very prone to division. We proved this even during the years of the revolution. There were times when, while everything was literally hanging in the balance, we were poking each other’s eyes out. Today it seems we want to believe that we would have nothing to lose from another round of division. 

The conditions favor a civil war over 1821. The public debate is unbearably toxic, with extreme voices dominating and setting the tone. The crisis and the demagogues that exploited it have opened deep cracks in Greek society that do not seem to be closing. 

The bawlers have taken up their positions for the coming match.

What is needed is a strong dose of self-knowledge without the insults and myths. Can we handle this? A large part of the Greek people, especially the younger generations, have no idea what actually happened during the struggle for independence. They know of heroes Theodoros Kolokotronis and Constantine Kanaris and nothing more.

But we also need a chance to escape the misery of recent years; we need an uplifting moment and to pause to collectively think about the path we have taken and where we want to go.

We have lost our goals, ambitions, self-assurance and our confidence as a nation.

We also have another obligation to bring Hellenism of the diaspora closer – 1821 still speaks to them, as may be the case with philhellenes everywhere.

The issue is much bigger than individuals and governments. It concerns all of us and we must take it seriously. But, above all, we must avoid the division that has endangered our own independence and which could now easily turn a significant celebration into yet another miserable experience. That is not what we need.

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