In times of old, we would wish for rain so that we could collect some water. Particularly in urban areas where we could not drill wells, people used to build elaborate cisterns and made sure they did not lose a single drop of water. Then they would drop a piece of lime inside it and have water to drink, for the household chores and for their weekly bath. Today, one more drop of water will be a drop too many – let alone endless rain. To make matters worse, there is always the threat of an approaching storm. Fortunately, there are no typhoons, tornadoes, or other extreme natural phenomena in this part of the Mediterranean. Indignation over the consequences of the recent rains and the related, incomprehensible attacks on opposition New Democracy party by former Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis show how much we have been been cut off from the good old traditions which linked our everyday comfort to changes in the weather and the harmony of our environment. The catastrophic effects of the rainstorm prove how little we have worked on our everyday urban environment. We have constructed thousands of houses (of questionable beauty) in all the Athenian suburbs. But how many of the residents have cared for the surroundings, the neighborhood, and the municipality where they chose to build their home? Did they display the same interest in the pavements, drains and road surfaces as they did in their precious living rooms? The real political cost for the present government and those following will be the citizen’s desperate fury at not being able to attain a better quality of life. Unfortunately for all of us, however, quality presupposes strict and in-depth education. It presupposes organization and a subordination to the rules of collective effort – and these are a much greater investment than the taxes that some of us pay. It also requires effective and transparent administration. Quality, Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s favorite notion, is the new national goal. Is it a difficult one? Undoubtedly so. But not unachievable.

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