When the breakwater bursts

When the breakwater bursts

We will never forget 2023. Not only because one part of the country burned to the ground and another was flooded and buried under mud. Evros, Thessaly, Rhodes and Tempe are not only geographical areas visited by disaster, cleared of greenery, drowned or killed, until another disaster comes along that overshadows the previous ones while life goes on.

We do not need to repeat that we are living in a century in which the climate is “cashing in” on decades of sustained abuse. Nor to mention the nightmarish “firsts,” such as those caused by storm Daniel in Greece, which unleashed a flood event not seen in a millennium. Or note that the biggest forest fire in decades on European soil took place in Evros.

2023 is the year we have to pause for a few minutes, hours maybe, even days, and consider, as a society and as a state, how we will proceed from here on. Because, so far, many breakwaters have burst, both real and symbolic. A man was pushed into the sea by ferry crew members during embarkation and lost his life. The mourning, the anger and the punishment of those responsible are a given. What happened, however, permeated society in a way that is difficult to measure. It is the breakwater between humanity and dehumanization that has collapsed. It will be rebuilt, with rules that will work – after the fact, of course – but in the meantime, we will have witnessed what no one sees without consequences: the abyss of human existence. Next time, maritime laws will be respected, but this incident will be indelibly recorded.

There are other symbolic breakwaters that collapsed in 2023. Like that of the so-called “Executive State” (a central administrative system), together with local government, who assured us that they were sufficiently prepared for wildfires and floods, but it turned out that they were not. We say “sufficiently” because obviously nobody can be completely prepared.

In the redesign of flood and fire prevention in the country, let us also include the consolidation of social responsibility. Perhaps that way we can re-approach the humanity that burned with the forests in Evros or drowned in the eddies of the ferry’s propeller. Its loss will have an incalculable cost.

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