Back to the land

The people of this country have for years been locked in what could well be described as a schizophrenic state of mind.

On the one hand, we Greeks got used to praising ourselves for things that we did not really invent or create ourselves – that is, things like the unique beauty of the Greek environment, the sunshine that so conveniently seems to make up for so many of our cities’ shortcomings, and our ability to celebrate life.

On the other hand, we so often behaved in a manner that demonstrated our complete lack of understanding and respect for the land bequeathed to us by our forebears.

As a result, we would dump plastic bags filled with trash into our beautiful village streams, we would leave our rubbish behind on the beach, and we would ditch many of our most precious traditions.

However, over the past few years, all this has started to change. Visit any village around the country and you will most probably come across a group or community who are making a coordinated effort to keep the place where they live tidy and clean, people who are trying to keep alive their local festivals and traditions, or push to get an Internet connection.

Many young people out there are taking care of their land without uttering the same old complaints of yesteryear. Some of these people are even looking for ways to make use of their village or town by setting up some kind of business.

Many of our fellow citizens are going back to the land seeking temporary refuge from the devastating daily routine of unemployment, or as a silent retreat, away from the stress of work in the years of the Greek crisis.

To be sure, many of these decisions and reactions may well be products of despair. Nevertheless, something seems to be changing in our relationship with our land. This shift probably has to do with the existence of a fresh generation of educated people but also with the ways in which the ongoing financial crisis has turned the lives of thousands of people upside down.

I would like to believe that in the coming years this reconnection with the land will bring tangible results in a wide range of things, from small quality tourist units to fresh farming methods.

For the time being, the crisis has made us love this blessed land and show and treat it with an extra bit of care. And only good can come out of that.