The ‘other’ Greece

To mark the country’s national day, I decided to write about something different. We are surrounded by so much despair, so much pessimism generated by the political class, such poor public discourse, that we are all looking for a small ray of sunshine to pierce through the darkness of a country that has closed in on itself and is literally stewing in its own juice. Last Sunday, I felt as if I was living in another Greece, albeit briefly. I went to the Benaki Museum and was filled with admiration for what a handful of people with vision, persistence and love for their work can achieve. These people took over a fairly old museum, brought it to life, expanded it with a wonderful annex on Pireos Street and turned it into a hub of cultural activity. I can only imagine what they had to endure in order to create this museum for us and for so many thousands of foreign visitors in a state that rarely wants to help such undertakings. But they succeeded, perhaps by virtue of that very eccentricity for which the museum’s director, Angelos Delivorias, is known. But, at the end of the day, it is always the «crazy» ones that leave a legacy and take the country forward. There is another Greece, one that gets things done. In this respect, one can point to those who helped the residents of the fire-stricken villages of Ileia obtain well-designed homes, and the young people who rush off to reforestation drives every Sunday or demonstrate for the environment, who have realized that there are some things we need to do alone, rather than waiting for the state or for politicians. This «other» Greece also emerged during the 2004 Olympics, when we wanted to put on our best face for the rest of the world. I have the feeling in these days of violence and despair, these «other» Greeks are looking for ways out of the darkness. On a personal note, for the first time I feel the need to discover pockets of positive energy in this country. For as long as I look at the country’s structural problems on the one hand, and the standards of its politicians on the other, I find it hard to look ahead with optimism.

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