As society tries to get back on its feet, we need to look at the world that 25-year-olds will face, the members of the generation who will shoulder the heavy burden of reviving the country in coming decades. With what reserves of skills and energy will they be able to deal with the future? Since their teens they have lived in conditions of crisis and social insecurity. And now, just as they were starting out, they were trapped by the pandemic, caught in midair between their studies and employment. Young people do have strengths – their studies, their acquaintance with technology and foreign languages, the wisdom and desire for work acquired in the crisis. However, perhaps the most important part of their “dowry” is their understanding of how badly their parents failed.
This failure is measured not only in deficits and debt, in all that led to the crisis and kept it from ending, but, chiefly, through political inertia, through indifference toward the future. We, the previous generation, may not be responsible for all of Greece’s ills (as we, too, found most of them in place) but we are responsible for the tolerance we showed toward the policies which brought us to the dead end. The problem is not that money was distributed to social groups which had enjoyed few benefits in the past, but that much of it went to the privileged – the more powerful the group, the more it benefited – at the expense of the whole, with little thought of productivity or social justice. Governments either could not or dared not rock the boat. In this way we found ourselves in the present situation, with young people facing mass unemployment, precarious work and wages that prohibit any plans for the future, with hundreds of thousands seeking opportunity abroad.
Debts, a declining population and a difficult neighborhood will be permanent problems for the younger generation right through their productive lives. That is why, even at this late hour, it is the duty of all – politicians, unions, voters – to try to make things easier going forward. Without ideological blinkers, without fear and inertia, without political expediency getting in the way, we need to adopt laws and programs that will provide opportunity and hope to those who are setting out today in the midst of anxiety and insecurity. This is the criterion by which we must judge our politicians. This is what our children will judge us on.