OPINION

Inertia vs change

A Greek-American friend once told me an anecdote that perfectly described the difference between the United States and Greece. As a boy, he would watch the village women carry pails of water from the well for months. The tap on the village spring had broken, but no one took the initiative to have it fixed. Some expected the mayor to do it, others thought it was the duty of central government, while others still saw it as the will of God. «America,» he said, «on the other hand, is a country that makes huge mistakes, falls into the abyss but eventually finds the strength to try and change its course.» Hearing US President Barack Obama last night was a society that has understood that it has hit rock bottom, a society that has looked to the brightest from its universities, its business world and political circles to find a new leader. What is interesting is that Obama did not rely on the power of his rhetoric even before he was elected. He looked around and selected for his associates not his buddies or party favorites. He handpicked a specialized staff, some of whom are his personal or political adversaries, young people with a penchant for hard work and a sense of responsibility. Some have accused him of leaning too heavily on Bill Clinton’s legacy, arguing that he will not deliver the change he promised. But reforms and changes that are not based on the experience and trial and error of others are bound to fail. Obama faces an impossibly difficult situation, both in the economy and on the international front. He also faces the biggest enemy of all politicians the entire world’s high expectations. Whether he succeeds or not depends on a multitude of factors and a fair dose of luck. But no one can accuse him of not choosing the right people to work with him, of not telling his people the truth and that he has a plan. Put simply, the American people saw the slippery slope for what it was and tried to change course. Here, we are still staring at the broken tap and indulging our depression and inertia.