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Shaking foundations

A man walks in front of a poster that reads 'Good luck' in central Athens.

By Pantelis Boukalas

We shouldn’t kid ourselves: The foundations of Greece are shaking. We are not talking about a few crooked beams in the ceiling, slates on the roof that have cracked or leaky pipes here and there. We are talking about the foundations of the entire structure, whatever we may call it, that has been painstakingly built over time: the polity, the state, the country, the nation. This is the kind of damage that cannot be fixed with a bit of plaster here, some paint there and a spot of tinkering.

The situation in the home of almost every person in this country (except of course those who are privileged and in power) reflects what is happening, to a much greater extent, in our overall home, in the country: economic malaise to the point of outright depression. Many households are living on money borrowed from relatives and friends as the majority does not enjoy the privilege of credit or the right to “investment funds” of the kind doled out by Hellenic Postbank. Many more are becoming suspicious of and angry at their next-door neighbor, the guy who always seems to enjoy life, who never seems to be returning from work because he never actually went to work even though he claimed to be in the civil service or in business.

And of course, most are suffering from an absence of faith in the present, which cannot be made prettier by any number of assurances from official lips. They also, naturally, have absolutely no faith in the future either, as this has been shrunk by concerns for survival down to the next few days rather than the months and years to come. This is probably why there was a sarcastic edge to most of the blessings for a happy new year heard this year.

It is not just the economic foundations that are under threat. Somehow, we will make these work. What has suffered the most serious blow after a string of revelations is people’s respect for those institutions that were until recently hailed for their radiance. Morale is down and trust not just in the state but in ourselves as well has been hit. However honest and good we may be, we will always trail far behind reality and the pressure of constant demands, while at the same time witnessing others triumph in their illegal activities. And as far as old bad habits are concerned, many of these continue to persist, such as partisanship, nepotism, cronyism and moving forward without a plan through a tunnel that has branches leading off in every direction.

Our common home has been marked with a red dot on the door, like a house damaged in an earthquake. Maybe it comes from the “red loans” that are now a threat to many once well-protected individuals. Maybe it comes from the “red lines” that were gradually erased despite assurances that they would be upheld.

Whatever the cause of the red dot, the message is the same: Danger.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday Jan 21, 2014 (11:29)  
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