OPINION

Keeping past nightmares at bay

“You know from history, old as well as recent, that political and economic instability and, above all, political passions have held back the progress of the nation and often become the cause of national disasters.”

These words, uttered by the late Constantine Karamanlis in 1961, remain as true and relevant today as they were back then. Perhaps political passions were running so high at that time that the statesman’s words could not be fully appreciated. But the rest of the quote has a prophetic quality.

“In order to appreciate [what we have today], you have to remember the state Greece was in during previous years. Civil wars, revolutions, political changeovers, military movements, successive government crises, bankruptcies and readjustments were the permanent features of our civic life that made Greece look like a nation [that was locked in a state of] political and economic anarchy.”

It would be good for all of us to keep these thoughts in mind as Greece is entering a new, difficult year.

Unfortunately, Greeks today do not study their history, for if they did they would acknowledge the fact that the past 40 years have witnessed the longest stretch of normality and prosperity in a long path of turmoil and adventures.

In 2014, Greece will be like an acrobat balancing on a tight rope. The old political system is coming down and is taking with it a system of power which has to a large degree been responsible for the country’s financial woes.

Unfortunately, nothing new appears to be on the horizon, although the chances are that something fresh will arise because it is mandated by the historical conditions. Greeks’ ability to overcome big challenges will make this possible.

But the country must remain on its feet. Division, hatred and populism have grown nearly out of control. The forces of reason and prudence are in retreat.

Our hopes mainly derive from the maturity and patience of the Greeks who have worked and who are working hard, who respect the law and who want to see this land and their children prosper.

These people are now angry, because they are the victims of a crisis which was not of their making. The country has always depended on them during times of renewal. They inspire hope that although 2014 will be a tough year, our past nightmares will be kept at bay.