For six months a broken lamp post at the main intersection of our Peloponnese village has been lassoed by three lengths of rope tied together and hitched to a bollard. This could be a scene from the Wild West, but it is in fact in a village under the administration of the Kalamata council.
This Easter, as the pious people of our village celebrated the holiest time of the year, they walked past this evidence of a lack of council concern about their environment. But being noble folk they focused on the spiritual not the physical aspects of the community as they made their way to our beautiful church.
Later that night, a cameraman was killed in Kalamata by a stray flare in a pyrotechnic shamble that has no part in the Orthodox celebration of Easter. This so-called “traditional” event was bankrolled by the municipal council with 12,000 euros that could have been spent on village infrastructure and essential maintenance work.
According to the mayor of Kalamata, this boisterous, dangerous behavior is “part of our DNA.” He was reported as saying that in 200 years no one in Kalamata had been killed in this hooligan practice.
A quick scan through on-line news archives reveals that firework-related mortalities occur almost every Easter in villages under this administration. If you follow the mayor’s logic, this pyrotechnic carnival is an embodiment of barbaric violence brought about by the Ottoman invasions and occupation before the 1821 revolution. Who in their right mind would believe or want to perpetuate such a ridiculous fantasy?
No one in our village over the age of 50 has any memory of guns or fire rockets being part of their Easter tradition as children. Now many elderly people are scared to go to the midnight Easter service for fear of a heart attack induced by the auditory shock of sudden explosions.
Is it too much to ask that politicians think before they speak when they have no idea about DNA, history or what is truly in the best interests of their constituents?
More importantly, will there be a thorough judicial investigation into the actions of the mayor and his administration, which have resulted in this tragic death rather than just the scapegoating by criminal prosecution of council employees who were apparently only following directions. Perhaps there could also be police enforcement of existing laws regarding this dangerous practice.
Isn’t it time to grow up?
Karen Reichelt is an Australian writer and author of “Extra Virgin.”