Greece is always walking on a precipice, hoping that the threat of falling off will finally disappears, that tourism will bring in more money this year than last, that the economic sentiment will improve, that cash will start flowing in the market again and that foreign investors will become convinced that all is getting better in the country and start spending money here.
At the same time, however, the International Monetary Fund’s admission of notable failures in the design and handling of Greece’s first bailout program have come to shake our optimism, forced though it may have been. Its admission has reintroduced into the public debate the rather underplayed parameter of political determination and the balance of power. Meanwhile, more clouds are gathering on the horizon for Greece: new taxes on property, a funding gap for the 2015-16 period and the possibility of yet another bailout loan accompanied by even more spending cuts that would further perpetuate the vicious cycle of borrowing and recession. And let’s not forget to ask ourselves what the possible fallout will be from the growing instability in neighboring Turkey at a time when the Mediterranean is already in a very precarious position.
There are certainly many reasons for serious concern, but the real test is how we react to our worries, or, rather, how we act, how we manage to pull ourselves out of the funk of inertia, to recover from the shock that we have suffered, and move on. We may have to try different things and we may make serious mistakes, but we must move on, trying to survive on our own as far as that’s possible and not on terms imposed by outsiders. This means taking action; it means action from a society that is thinking, that is aware of its own strengths and limitations and of the environment in which it exists.
In short, this is politics; politics that goes beyond the unfruitful and even destructive “resist or submit” conundrum. Because the fact is that so far over the past three years, Greeks have become polarized – quite understandably – between the rhetoric of complete resistance and the rhetoric of complete submission; either accepting everything and everyone, or rejecting it all.
Both positions are unproductive in equal measure. All they result in is losses on a material level, self-perpetuating hate and divisions. Today, more than at any other time in the past 60 years, we need rhetoric that brings people together and puts them on the same page, and actions that are capable of bringing change and that offer creative solutions. Because pointing the finger at one another simply makes us lose even more of our independence and sink ever deeper into a state of fatalism.