COMMENT

The cruelty of strangers

By Nikos Xydakis

The distribution this week by Greece?s far-right Golden Dawn party of free food on Syntagma Square was a turning point in society?s moral and spiritual decline. The offer was limited to card-carrying Greek citizens and only after they had submitted important personal information including their blood type.

Even by the contemporary standards of this crisis-hit country, a Greek person can only feel shame in seeing volunteers from a neo-fascist party, all of them dressed in black t-shirts, distribute packs of pasta and other foodstuff after inspecting, as it were, the blood of the needy.

One can only feel shame because this brutally racist event was organized right in front of a symbol of democracy, the House of Parliament.

One can only feel shame because such blood-based discrimination runs counter to the norms and mores of Greek civilization -- from Zeus Xenios, the patron of hospitality and guests, and Athena Xenia, the protector of strangers, both worshiped by our ancient forefathers, to Cappadocian Basil the Great.

?If you come across an enemy in difficulty,? he wrote in his sermon on famine and drought, ?do not add revenge to your anger but instead feed him like he fed the brothers who sold him out.?

One can only feel shame and awe at what awaits anyone who discards the founding contract of humanism: ?I was alone and away from home, and you did not invite me into your home. I was without clothes, and you gave me nothing to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you did not care for me.?

No one can pretend to be so naive as to ask: ?Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty? When did we see you alone and away from home? Or when did we see you without clothes or sick or in prison? When did we see these things and not help you??

The question will always invite that same devastating response: ?I tell you the truth. Anything you refused to do for any of my people here, you refused to do for me. Then those bad people will go away. They will have punishment forever.? (Matthew 25:41-46).

Eternal punishment, or hell is the world for primitive blood and crude violence. Hell is the pasta offered by the black-clad bully. And anyone who turns a blind eye to these vulgar events mumbling phony excuses should be prepared for a world where they will have to display their ID and blood type in order to be able to speak, think and breathe.

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