OPINION

A question of attitude

During a short holiday, I was impressed by the difference between the Greeks and the foreigners sitting at the same table. The Greeks were all successful in their respective fields in a small market and a small country. Their Anglo-Saxon visitors were also extremely successful in a much larger and more competitive country which also happens to be a superpower. But if you had turned off the sound for a minute and just watched the scene, you would have thought that the Greeks were the world leaders in their fields and the foreigners humble representatives of their own. The reason? Their attitude. For some years, particularly since I have returned to Greece, I have noticed the pomposity of a particular class of people in Greece. These people are professors, businessmen and politicians, but also idle commentators who behave and talk in a pompous manner. Some university professors in Athens obviously have a very high opinion of themselves, but their counterparts from Harvard or Johns Hopkins drive around in old cars or even walk to work. A person who is a success in Greece appears always at the ready to come out with that classic Greek question: «Do you know who I am?» A foreigner, on the other hand, appears to want to say, «I don’t really want you to know who I am unless you have a problem that is related to my particular field.» I have noticed that generally speaking, the more prominent someone is in a particular field, the lower the profile. Of course that does not apply to two particular categories – the self-made men who never get over their humble beginnings and for whom a pompous attitude is a balm for their inferiorities, and those who have inherited money or power and who therefore behave like royalty.