Wanted: captain and compass

I?ve always envied older colleagues for having had firsthand experience of historic events that later generations could only read about. I grew up thinking that we would not get to live through similar events because, as a child of my generation, I had the conviction that some fundamental issues had been resolved for good and that tomorrow would always be a better day. It turns out I was wrong.

We are currently witnessing two crises at the same time. Europe and the United States have both been hit by serious debt problems that could well push them into decline and render them second-class powers in the global system.

At the same time, Greece is suffering from a crisis of values and institutions. Sure, it isn?t the only Southern European country to be plagued by high debt and low competitiveness, but the difference is that over the past 30 years, Greece?s productive base has been dismantled, corruption has been allowed to corrode the social fabric, mediocre officials were put in charge of key institutions, populism was deified and traditional values were lost. This systemic crisis made Greece more vulnerable to the global crisis, making it look like a broken, rudderless ship in a storm.

It?s extremely crucial that we keep ourselves inside the core of the EU until the storm passes. Perhaps the euro could break down, but we have no reason to be the ones to set off the process. It?s crucial that we manage to hang in there, while Europe appears to be making a policy shift, considering measures to stimulate growth and ease fiscal measures. It would be suicidal to fall into the water just because we felt dizzy on board the ship. Unfortunately we have the self-defeating habit of being stubborn and turning a blind eye to the global environment.

We need to give Greece more time, to make sure that we don?t usher the country outside the eurozone or turn into a new Argentina. Unfortunately, there is no Eleftherios Venizelos or Constantine Karamanlis. Our protagonists belong to the domain of populism. However, the country also has a well of creative forces and talent. Until these step forward, though, we must all strive to keep the country on its feet, to keep it in the Western camp, and convince those angry youths that the spark they see is in fact the promise of chaos and blind protest.

We have a responsibility to find the captain and above all the compass that will steer the nation to safe waters.