OPINION

Myths and megalomania

We love myths. Both in our personal lives and as a nation, we like to see ourselves as protagonists as heroes or as victims of conspiracies which, in targeting us, show just how important and unique we are. For example, we like to believe and to repeat in magazines, newspapers, on television and on the Internet that by just one vote the newly established United States of America did not adopt Greek as their official language; the fact that there was never such a vote does not kill off our fantasy. We like to claim that Greek has a vocabulary of 6 million words and that Bill Gates himself ordered his executives to learn Ancient Greek, ostensibly because without Ancient Greek computers are only jazzed-up typewriters; neither has Gates issued such an order, nor does Greek have so many words, but that does not deter the determined. And then there is the persistent myth in which that dark conspirator Henry Kissinger allegedly declared once: «The Greek people are unruly and that is why we have to hit them hard in their cultural roots. Maybe then they will fall in line. I mean, we should hit their religion, their spiritual and historical reserves, so that we neutralize any ability they have to develop and to distinguish themselves, to overcome, so that they will not bother us in the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, in this whole sensitive region which is of great strategic importance to us, to US policy.» It has been years since it was proved that there was not an ounce of truth in this story. And yet, unconvinced, some journalists, politicians and academics continue to reproduce the lie. The latest, on national television, is satirist Lakis Lazopoulos. Now ratified by Lazopoulos’s popularity, the myth will last another 20 years. It’s as the poet Giorgos Seferis put it: «If I talk to you in tales and parables, it’s because they’re sweeter on your ears.»