The other Greeks

In our efforts to explain Greece’s absurdities, criticize the shortcomings of the public administration and expose the failings of what often appears to be a self-interested government, we often commit a serious error: We generalize. The death of two Greek firefighter pilots while combating a forest blaze in Evia provided yet another occasion for mourning in this difficult summer. The loss of Flight Lieutenant Dimitris Stoilidis, 34, father of two and Flying Officer Yiannis Hatzoudis, 27, was a painful reminder that among us there are still people with a strong sense of duty. The Canadair pilots, who take off at the break of day and work under adverse conditions until the sun goes down, are no doubt such people. Their self-sacrifice and hard work goes some way toward making up for the incompetence of the administration. Their heroism offsets the devastating impact of the idleness, corruption and inadequate funding that dogs the state. Don’t ask me how many such people there are. And don’t rush to conclude that they are merely the exceptions that confirm the rule. I have met many of them, day and night, on the exhausting night shifts of the National Health System. I have met them in state schools, in commerce, in farming and in banking. Conscientious, tax-paying individuals who do not build illegally, do not clap without good reason and do not vote out of self-interest. Just normal people. Now that the individual citizen has been replaced by the average citizen of the opinion polls and the term «law-abiding» is considered to be outdated, the loss of the two pilots who died while fighting for the common good should at the very least serve as a wake-up call. This is the type of Greeks our politicians should have in mind when making political speeches, when patting people on the back, when making laws.

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