The current conditions are not calm enough to allow for luxuries like hesitation, procrastination and other such notions associated with decisions, actions and day-to-day life. The times are defined by fluidity, instability and insecurity, and this is something felt by everyone on the planet, whether they are aware of it or not.
The pandemic and its impact on public health and the economy is a massive global problem, but each individual country must also contend with specific problems of its own. Everyone has their own challenges, which in more moderate cases simply stand as obstacles to fully satisfying the people’s needs. In more serious cases, these challenges may even pose a threat to democracy – when that is the political system – and the existence of the state itself.
Greece is obviously fortunate because it finds itself on the “top shelf” of the international community in terms of social conditions, standards of living and democratic freedoms. The complaints, accusations and ideological fixations besetting its political system cannot change the reality of the figures and the comparative data. This is largely due to the fact that Greece formally belongs to the West, and not just geographically, but also as a member of key pillars like the European Union and NATO. These institutions may not satisfy all of its needs or placate all of its fears, but there can be little doubt that the situation would be much, much worse if the country were not a part of them. A bit of objective reflection and a good look at what’s happening around us – nearby and further afield – is proof enough.
This is one part of reality; the other is shaped by our “bad” neighborhood on the one hand, and, on the other, by mentalities, hang-ups, bad practices, incompetence and absurdities that have no place in a country that is part of the Western core, that set it apart from the rest and cause delays. The perils of this “bad” neighborhood are determined by our proximity to Turkey and the Middle East. Greece is hostage to these geographical truths, which breed insecurity and fear, and come at a serious financial cost, while also making our reliance on third countries greater. No other country at the core of the West has to contend with this constant threat and with the negative impact it has on the economy and the morale of its people.
On the other side, no one else can be blamed for the fact that many Greeks think and act as though they were part of the East; beholden to ideological fixations dressed in a political mantle, they react to any attempt at reform and modernization. In no other part of the West does the Church have such an influential role in the function of the state and the country’s day-to-day life; nowhere is the state mechanism so ineffective; nowhere does the education system serve as such a constant source of political confrontation or are unions – particularly those representing civil servants – so staunchly opposed to any attempt to adapt to modern realities. And nowhere do these unions have such support from self-appointed leftist political parties that are equally blind to developments and the progressive dictates of the present situation.
It is clear that this notorious “Greek reality” – which is shaped and maintained by domestic elements that belong to the past – cannot continue any longer. The fast pace and relentlessness of developments forbid it. Technology, the incredible competition between powerful and divergent interests, international instability and the challenges to the economy do not allow for any delays. The distance between the doers and the laggards grows every day, even when it pertains to countries at the core of the West, like Greece. If they want to continue being there, the political class, the media and everyone else who claims to be a part of the real world of progress has a duty to acknowledge the problem in all its intensity and scope.
It would be disastrous for those who insist on cultivating the “Greek reality” mentality to be allowed to come out on top again.