Some silence, please

There are moments that I would really, really like to not hear any debate or conversation around me. There are moments such as these when, I am sure, many of my fellow citizens would also appreciate some silence from the media, an embargo on this endless commentary at long last. We all feel that we have lived through a major tragedy this summer. So many people have died in a catastrophe the likes of which we have not seen for decades in this country; lives have been wrecked as families are torn apart and homes reduced to ashes; some of the most beautiful parts of the country that we loved so much have simply disappeared in this summer’s unprecedented destruction. No one is sure against whom, or what, to direct their anger. We all feel so helpless faced with a phenomenon that we are powerless to comprehend. The most cool-headed among us believe that this year’s destruction is linked, at least in part, to climate change on a global level, and they draw attention to similar disasters that have struck Italy, Turkey, Spain and other parts of the world. Some are wondering whether certain sick individuals had wanted to replay the devastating fires of 1981 that ravaged Mount Pendeli and other tracts of forestland, or to destabilize the country for their own reasons; conspiracy theories have abounded as people try to make sense of this nationwide catastrophe. The fact that countless fires started virtually simultaneously certainly raises many questions. And unfortunately the truth is that contemporary Greece boasts no shortage of mentally unstable fanatics whose paranoia could have sparked such devastating initiatives. Yet others believe that the well-oiled state machine left behind after the Athens 2004 Olympic Games has managed to rust in just a few years: According to them, the unprecedented scale of forest fire destruction this summer is the result of a state machine that has seized up from disuse since 2004 and was therefore unable to offer the coordinated support necessary to supress so many blazes. An emotional race at the best of times, we now feel unbelievable tension, anger and indignation at the present time. Friends, whose political affiliation I have known for years, are now telling me that they will cast a blank vote in the forthcoming general elections, due in just three weeks’ time. The environment, a matter that only a few radicals and eccentrics cared about a few years ago, has become a burning issue in our everyday lives but also on the political agenda. People who have been apolitical all their lives are suddenly expressing their intention to «do something.» I cannot say how this constant rumbling rage over the fires will express itself, but I can hear it loud and clear, without having to analyze the political terrain for any clues. And at this time, despite the persistent cynicism I bury within me like every detached analyst, I am supremely indifferent about whether and how this tragedy will influence forthcoming elections. There are only two things I can say that I am sure about at the moment: First, any politician who dares to exploit this tragedy for partisan political reasons – anyone who dares to display such arrogance or hackneyed rhetoric at a time of national mourning – will pay dearly for that insensitive oversight. Second, the accumulated indignation of the public this summer will doubtless bring a lot of changes; it will provoke rumblings that will be felt by everyone. I am not sure whether this will necessarily work in the interests of the country, as often anger leads to misadventures and reckless behavior. Certainly, however, it is not something the ruling class should, or will be able to, ignore. At the moment, however, the only thing that I feel I really want to do is to put my headphones on and – with music, and nothing else, in my ears – take a walk through Pelion, Mani, Kaiafa or any other of those places that we have loved and suddenly, inexplicably, lost this dark summer which looks as if it will never end.