OPINION

Common sense

Independent MP Stephanos Manos has restated a radical proposal he made some years ago, based on the presumption that instead of hosting the allegedly biggest park in Europe, the government create 20 to 25 green areas of 10 hectares each scattered around the crowded capital. The money for the necessary expropriations would come from selling off half of the designated area in Hellenikon. Athens, after all, already has Europe’s biggest park: the hundreds of burned-out hectares on Mount Hymettus that have for years awaited reforestation. «Your proposal sounds reasonable and realistic,» the journalist told Manos. «Why hasn’t it materialized?» Without a second thought, Manos responded that voters pick politicians who lack common sense. So here we are looking for common sense. Is lack of common sense to blame for the loss of forests that has left the cement jungle defenseless? Is it to blame for the soaring number of illegal properties? Is it to blame for the polluted air that is sending hundreds of Greeks to their deaths? Is it to blame for the fact that plans for a metropolitan park in Goudi have failed to materialize? Is it to blame for the thousands of rubbish dumps, the neglected forests or the scarce amount (5.1 hectares) of new green space created over the past five years? When talking of the country’s chronic problems, Manos usually says, «It’s a question of common sense.» Perhaps that’s an instinctive attempt to demystify the role of politicians. I would agree with him that people must at some point elect politicians who at least have common sense under the condition they also have the requisite knowledge. Most importantly, that common sense must be free of self-interest – because I can’t help getting the impression that Greece’s environmental mess has been brought about by hundreds of people whose common sense has been hijacked by other concerns.