Diaspora beset by division

Diaspora beset by division

The strength and influence of the diaspora, in the United States especially, is a key multiplier of Greece’s power. We don’t need to point to the case of Israel to show what we’re talking about. Those who genuinely care about the issue need to be worried right now, and a lot. First of all, they should be alarmed by the fact that our nation’s greatest diseases, division and envy, have penetrated firmly into the higher echelons of the Greek-American community. The situation defies belief. Everyone is at war with everyone, for personal or other reasons. From who will send out the invitations for a particular event to who will sit at which table, every issue can spark a feud and toxic amounts of mudslinging. The backstabbing and infighting permeates every pillar of the Greek-American diaspora, from its organizations to the lobbies and the Church. The “national center” has not just ignored the issue but has handled certain sensitive matters in such a crude manner that it more likely exacerbated rather than fixed the situation. Instead of sitting all the key players down at one table and asking them to put their egos aside, Athens became part of the problem.

The timing could not be worse, as this division coincides with some much deeper questions concerning the future of the diaspora: How Greek can newer generations of Greek Americans actually feel, and what can we do to bring them closer to the motherland? What is the role of the Church down the line and the diaspora’s relationship to the Ecumenical Patriarchate? How can the so-called lobby be better organized so that it doesn’t have to rely on one person’s connections or the trajectory of one powerful American politician’s career?

Greek politicians have the unfortunate tendency to deal with the diaspora as they deal with most other issues: as a photo op or only when there’s a specific need. The generation of Greek Americans who had connections and knowledge, who remembered 1974 and played an important historical role, are aging today. The younger generation has people who are willing and able to contribute only because they love Greece, without expecting material returns. They are discouraged, however, by the divisions in the community and by the fact that no one in Athens seems to care.

We are still living in a time when the Greek prime minister, whoever that may be, knows which Greek American to call in a time of need, asking for a call to Valerie Biden or Donald Trump’s son-in-law. This is important, for sure, but we need to start looking beyond our own noses and act like other countries that have such influential levers, they can even overlook the sentiments of the president of the United States. But to even entertain such a prospect, we need to put aside the divisions tearing up the Greek-American community. 

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