What has become of us?
The speech by new House speaker Konstantinos Tasoulas underscored the desire for a different style of political discourse, beyond statements and counter-statements, beyond instant reactions on social media, unconditional attacks against political opponents, told-you-so quips and all such byproducts of the crisis.
It was a speech that was praised, analyzed and documented by observers. The speech of the new speaker, who was elected with a stunning majority, contained references to political and historical essays, and was laced with his literary background in a way that demonstrated that parliamentary deputies, political leaders and government officials have other ways of communicating their message than catchy soundbites.
It was also a reminder that all things which are happening to us today have been analyzed over the centuries. What changes is that each generation imposes its own particular characteristics on events.
There was something reassuring about his choice to bring up extracts from important works that are in a way linked to the country’s mental and civic condition. The fatigue of citizens, the discrediting of institutions, “the transformation of parliamentary procedures into guillotines that slander or exterminate political opponents through judicial procedures.”
It is not important how many people had the chance to listen to or read Tasoulas’ speech. It did not contain announcements that will affect our lives or promises that will impact our future. It was nevertheless memorable because it bore the mark of a government, which is, first of all, the mark of the prime minister. Apart from Mitsotakis’ pledge for “reason, legality and political civilization,” there are additional ways of boosting the symbolic value of the Greek Parliament, an institution that has suffered dearly over the past 10 years.
Tasoulas’ speech set the context for a truce in Parliament and it was an invitation for reflection. In the speaker’s way, of course. Perhaps his way is not compatible with all of us. This is not a suggestion that it be reproduced or imitated. Each with their own weapons. But it does send a signal to those who think themselves unique that they are, in fact, fleeting in historical terms.
And, of course, there was his concluding question: “Now that we have become what we used to admire, one wonders how many people really admire what we have become?”
As long as we keep asking ourselves this question, there’s hope for a positive answer.