OPINION

Respecting the rules of communal living

Perhaps the televised image of social violence is worse than the problem itself. According to a VPRC poll conducted on behalf of Kathimerini, 65 percent of Greeks believe that television channels broadcast more violence than actually exists in Greek society today. And this does not mean that we are not concerned or that we do not have a sense of the increasing amount of violence in our country. Most people believe that the problem begins in our schools, where children are molded and influenced before joining the ranks of society as citizens. If we add to this the widespread concern about violence in the streets and in neighborhoods, we can gain a better understanding of the problem. Indeed, nearly half (46 percent) of the parents polled claim to fear such violence. And to complete the picture, we should also consider another perspective – that the most important problems with violence begin in the home, as 14 percent of respondents to the VPRC poll maintained. Research reveals that 6 in 10 parents report problems of domestic violence in their close family circle. The question therefore arises whether these beliefs actually paint a faithful picture of reality or whether citizens are excessively influenced by what they see on television. I personally believe that citizens, for the most part, are able to understand what is happening clearly and objectively; as a result most of them are aware of the excesses being broadcast on their television screens. I also believe that it is not too late to improve the situation from deteriorating even further. In order to curb further deterioration however, we must meet two conditions: first, that we prudently enforce existing laws and second, that we adopt a greater respect for the rules of communal life. It is only in the past few years that the majority of Greeks have acquired the experience of communal living with their fellow citizens in large urban areas. Most Greeks have only just started realizing that respecting the rules of communal living – whether this applies to the highway code, the regulations of an apartment block, school rules, municipal provisions or fines for pollution – do not curb our freedom but, on the contrary, protect it. As a result an increasingly large number of us expect our neighbor to respect these rules and the State to contribute towards their enforcement. But, we also expect our politicians and the media – those who exert the greatest influence on the public – to behave with the same sense of responsibility and efficiency that is expected of the citizens.