OPINION

Loud patriotism

I admit that whenever politicians drag religious faith and worn-out patriotism into discussions I button up.

I feel the same way when I see bishops blatantly getting involved in politics. To my knowledge, those of us who believe carry our faith inside, as opposed to using it as a marketing tool, whether on the right or the left of the political spectrum.

The major crisis that has devastated Greek society, especially the country’s middle classes, has quite clearly allowed the preachers of intolerance to acquire a voice. These are people who seem to have forgotten the teachings of Paul the Apostle, of which we were recently reminded by Archbishop Ieronymos when he spoke of the Church’s obligation to use substantial, loving and saving talk, as opposed to sentimental, secularized and disruptive words.

Unfortunately, not all Greek bishops adhere to the archbishop’s good sense and wisdom.

In fact, some of them go as far as to present their positions through statements that remind us of political parties and extremist groups – and certainly not the clergy.

The crisis has nurtured barbarism and has awakened primitive instincts in a large portion of Greek society.

Ill-fated words like “traitor” and “unpatriotic,” terms that have proved particularly damaging throughout Greek history – from Alcibiades to the civil strife between leaders of the Greek War of Independence in 1821, to the National Schism that pitted Eleftherios Venizelos against King Constantine in the early 20th century – have crept back into the Greek vernacular.

Despite all of our past experiences, we’re back to doing the same. Politicians now feel obliged to hurry up and get their patriotism certificates approved. This is what happens, however, when the political system ends up putting its head down, when it is afraid and refrains from telling the truth, blaming it all on the bad foreigners.

Everybody gets swept away by the tide in this case, because part of public opinion is carried away by big words and objections.

The blender of uncontrollable populism ends up mixing everything up and does not allow any room for moderate voices.

Soon our politicians will be collecting air miles from their visits to monasteries in the race to prove just how patriotic they are.

It looks like we’re going backward and doing so at great speed. Loud patriotism sells but it is not what the country needs right now. Greece needs reconstruction from its foundations, and more than anything, to stay clear of division and fanaticism.