On the edge but not gutless

In the adventures of Asterix the Gauls have only one fear: that the sky may fall on their heads. Superstitious folk in pre-Christian times, they pray to the Celtic god Toutatis and a dozen lesser gods around him. We, on the other hand, have become so much less superstitious these days that, in theory, we see no reason to lengthen our prayers. Why should we, when all we hear from voices in high places, from state and church officials, is that God is always watching over his chosen people? Is this blasphemy? Absolutely, if the nationalization and Hellenization of God or assurances by the coach of PAOK that the Virgin Mary saved the soccer team on the 93rd minute via its goalkeeper, are considered pious.

For as long as we own the skies, we need only fear what takes place on Earth, where the term “fear” and all its synonyms enjoy such overwhelming popularity. This is not true in all cases, of course, but it does apply to all that goes beyond our political, spiritual and intellectual powers. For instance, we don’t have to be scared to death every time we come across a threatening article published in some German newspaper or panic over a questionable story on some news/gossip website. We don’t have to fret over the gloomy predictions of some economist who has been proved wrong on several occasions but remains arrogant. We don’t have to believe the terror scenarios circulated by investment funds, obsessive users of self-fulfilling prophecies or international rating agencies whose omnipotence rises above institutions and who have earned the wrath of countries mightier than Greece.

We don’t have to become what a lot of people wish for us to become, in other words, gutless, unable to think and obsessed by the terror talk of gutter journalists, who, tucked safely behind their microphones, keep threatening that ATM’s will be cleaned out the day after. These are the same people who just yesterday were screaming about the new Occupation, condemning like a latter-day Vidkun Quisling, the same government officials they now worship. Of course citizens care about their country and don’t want to see major sacrifices go to waste. Of course they feel insulted by the punishing condescension demonstrated by our lenders. Our partners, especially, should take more politically-motivated decisions instead of treating Greece as inferior to France or Italy and, therefore, as a more likely scapegoat.

Greeks are not convinced instantly by reassurances from Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis that the government has safeguarded the country against all danger. They are naturally worried when they hear that the troika’s new strategies follow the same beaten path, which instead of growth, led to higher unemployment. But they are not gutless and stoking their fear, under these circumstances, can also stoke their anger.