OPINION

Pretensions to poshness

The Greek attitude has seen a drastic turnaround over the past few years. We’ve acquired pretensions to poshness. It’s not that poverty, unemployment, high prices and insecurity have been eclipsed. But even in the most adverse circumstances, we seem to keep our nouveau riche mentality. It’s a lifestyle that is slowly eating into our cultural identity and social cohesion. We spend whether we have the money or not. Consumption is thriving (the annual 20 percent rise puts Greece at the top of the EU table). Household debt in loans and credit cards is over 18 billion euros. Half the Greek population is in debt. Meanwhile, there are 12 million cell phone connections and the sale of luxury vehicles is on the rise (this year it rose by 35 percent, while the sales of conventional cars went up by 9 percent). Over 10,000 small boats are sold every year. The dream of a fancy apartment even in the most run-down neighborhood is killing the capital’s last remaining one-story houses (investment in private housing makes 20 percent of total investment in Greece). Expectations regarding intellectual progress, solidarity and social responsibility are waning. Owning is more important than being. Jailed in our micro-prosperity, prisoners of our self-interest, we, the generous, compassionate, sentimental, enthusiastic Greeks, have turned into an indifferent, apathetic mass that finds no inspiration in political passion, moral ideal, or big ambition. We will sacrifice anything on the altar of material goods. Egoism, greed, wild consumerism and a craving for luxury reign as we sit like vegetables before our TV screens. Our apathy is not a byproduct of democracy. It’s the most alarming outgrowth of society’s breakdown. It cannot be cured with measures. After all, we’re not lacking measures but conscience and self-knowledge.