OPINION

Greeks will overcome the crisis

The Greeks are a proud nation and they will never accept outsiders dictating how they should run their lives. After living in Greece for 20 years as a journalist, I can say with confidence that they will overcome the current crisis, although this might take some time.

And after the crisis is over, the Greek nation needs to pause and do some soul-searching as to what went wrong.

The blame game for the present crisis is futile and should stop. It only exacerbates the situation. Serious mistakes have been committed and these need to be rectified — the sooner the better.

Greeks are very capable of unifying and standing up together when cornered. History has proven this.

In the late 1970s, I witnessed how Greece emerged from the clutches of a military dictatorship to become a modern, democratic state.

At the same time however, Greeks had to pay dearly for their obsession with becoming ?Europeans.? I saw how the close-knit and harmonious Greek society slowly degenerated into a materialistic, opportunist and consumerist population, totally forgetting the ancient Greek wisdom that happiness does not come from material possessions alone.

I witnessed how Greece developed from a country that exported immigrants to one that attracts them from elsewhere.

One of the most absurd and stupid accusations that I sometimes read in media reports is that Greeks are xenophobic. I have lived in several European and non-European countries and I have never seen a people more friendly toward foreigners than the Greeks.

Perhaps the current tensions in Greek society have created some anti-foreigner sentiments but this I am sure would only be temporary.

I can count many personal experiences of this altruistic behavior of the Greeks.

While doing the practical test for my driving license in Thessaloniki in early 80s I made a mistake which normally would have led to failure to pass the test.

But in my case the inspector was told by my teacher from the driving school that I was a ?kalo paidi? (good boy). I got my license.

In another incident I was stopped by the traffic police in Athens. An officer approached me and advised me that when his superior came to check my papers, ?don?t speak Greek, but English.?

So when his superior came the officer told him that I was an Indian journalist in a hurry and that I seemed to be a ?kalo paidi.? I was sent on my way without a fine.

This ?kalo paidi? sentiment can work miracles in Greece.

Once I underwent surgery for appendicitis in the famous Ahepa Hospital in Thessaloniki. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the sympathy and support shown by the other Greek patients. There were about 10 patients in the room but the atmosphere was so familial that I felt genuinely sad when I left the hospital a week later.

The Western media in my view has unjustly labeled the Greeks as a nation of lazy and corrupt people.

I think the Greeks are one of the few peoples on earth who are willing to toil and struggle so hard for the future of their children, educating them and even preparing for their marriages by buying a house or apartment for them to live in.

Greek parents sacrifice their own lives and save as much as they can for the sake of their children. A marvelous and praiseworthy phenomena by all means!

I think that by attaching themselves so closely to the European project, on the way the Greeks lost the precious ancient ideals of honesty, virtue and truth.

The Greek carries two worlds inside him, the Occident and the Orient. But the Orient has so far been neglected.

Politically, Greek leaders are to blame for miserably failing to exploit the country?s unique position to play a bridging role between the Orient and the Occident.

Greece, or Yunan, is an household name in the Arab world, Iran and India. Plato, Socrates and Hippocrates have been Arabized and Persianized and their names still draw respect and admiration for the Greeks in the Oriental mind.

When nations and states start losing their authority, questions about their philosophy of life start emerging. This is the time for the Greek soul to create a balance between the East and the West and give new impetus to their philosophy of life based on ancient Greek thinking.

Elate paidia, tha ta kataferete.

* Nawab Khan is an Indian journalist based in Brussels.