OPINION

Seeds of change

Grim and gray, reality leaves no room for sanguine thought. Any optimism is quickly banished by images from the battlefield, the tears of civilians, and the extent of the humanitarian disaster. The course of the war – a far cry from the initial plans of a lightning strike that would clear the way for a quick victory by the US-British forces – leaves little room for optimism. Now, no one, not even the planners of the war, believes that it will end soon. Instead, everyone is getting used to the idea of a lengthy conflict and the repercussions that this will entail for the wider Mideast region and the rest of the world. Such a climate makes it hard to think positively. Yet, history teaches us that it is crises such as this that make history, carving new paths in politics and preparing the ground for renewal. The current crisis has reinforced European unity, even if only among a particular group of states, as there is growing pressure for a single European voice in international affairs. Thus the crisis may well create the conditions for a more closely integrated Europe – a very unlikely prospect until recently. Crises carry the seeds of rebirth and revival, distant and indistinct as these may appear today. Particularly in Greece, this period may offer a chance to make unprecedented leaps forward. Even the controversial 2004 Olympics could be rescued. Instead of sinking into oblivion and the mire of its own problems, the Games could become the first postwar global festival of reconciliation. The historical importance of the Games, the fact that they are being organized in their homeland, could inaugurate a wholly new approach. The question is whether the government and 2004 officials are able to promote an original vision for an event which started out as a blessing and is turning out to be a curse.