It is a perfectly natural human reaction to feel somewhat anxious or wary when change lies just around the corner. However, the January 25 elections represent just one more milestone in Greece’s long journey since the start of the crisis, a journey that has been marked by radical changes and shifting balances ever since April 2010, when then Prime Minister George Papandreou announced that Greece had requested international financial assistance on the island of Kastelorizo.
If we look at the country’s recent history a bit more closely, there were evident signs that the Metapolitefsi period, during which democracy was restored to the country after the 1967-74 military dictatorship, had been coming to an end quite a bit before 2010.
The first signs could even be seen toward the end of 2004, when the euphoria from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games began fading.
In the summer of 2007, massive wildfires that claimed dozens of lives were followed by a sense of sadness and forlornness that grew in the months that followed.
Then came the riots of December 2008, sparked after a policeman killed a teenager in central Athens, which rocked the nation.
The cycle of frustration came to a close with the announcement of the memorandum, giving way to a new cycle of acute anxiety and massive change. The upcoming elections belong to this second cycle of developments, and their outcome may well be a catalyst for deeper changes that could signal the start of a new historical cycle.
This new year for Greece will be nothing like 2010 or even 2012. The crisis brought pain to a lot of people and caused social and economic devastation, but it may also hold the seed of a new way of thinking, of a consensus that will have been achieved at great cost and a sagacity that may be expressed by a new prioritization of the country’s needs, a new sense of self-awareness.
Out of necessity, Greece may redefine its identity, without vanity and also without self-deprecation, measuring its strengths and limits, and identifying its potential.
At the other end of the debilitating crisis, the contrast to its downward spiral, is another, different course, one that leads the country higher toward a renewed confidence, a new sense of courage.
And this courage is key, because it is this which will allow us to take our fate into our hands and to make plans for our future, to envision our future.
The more we free our minds to the possibilities that lie ahead, the stronger and more fearless we will become in the future.