OPINION

A map, an unknown destination

Today our lives will change. Parliament is to vote on social security and labor reforms, altering the way we work, live and grow old. The government is not only making the move to meet its obligations as regards the deal it signed with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, but, as far as the labor regime is concerned, it is speeding up the adoption of reforms by three months. It clearly wants to get past the hard part with the least amount of trouble, in the speediest way. The hasty adoption of the reforms, though, does not mean an end to the protests of the past few months; rather, it is just the start of the debate. The disagreements have to lead to a society that will be based on foundations of compromise and consensus, not on the imposition of one side’s will upon the other, as has been the case until now. The political disputes, the strikes and protests are all part of a necessary ferment and should not be exaggerated. The expression of citizens’ fear, anger and despair is necessary and cathartic but it leads nowhere if it is not accompanied by a political strategy that will convince people of the need to accept change or to reject it. Unfortunately, to date, all talk about our future has been lacking in seriousness and honesty. Most participants in the discussion have simply stuck to the positions that they have been parroting for decades: One side does not want any changes, the other does not have any patience with the fears of those whose lives will change. Most citizens do not share the government’s anxiety over the danger of bankruptcy; they have not been convinced that the reforms are a matter of survival rather than punishment for crimes that they did not commit. With the reforms, the government has made a very important point to its partners in the EU and its creditors: It has proved that the Greeks are serious about changing their economy and their ways. But the real battle will be the effort to persuade people that their sacrifices will not be in vain, that they will lead to a society without the injustices that plague it today, that they will see justice being done. Greece’s efforts to find its way forward begin now – after the vote on a reform bill that serves as a map toward a destination that remains unknown.