Monday, 23 July 2012

Greece, the weed of Europe (Το ζιζάνιο της Ευρώπης)

When newspapers splatter sensational headlines about Greece on their front pages, to the likes of: 

Euro exit talk risks self-fulfilling prophecy,

as they did today, the writers are ignoring reality. The European continent is sinking further down the drain; detracting attention from the problem in order to turn people against the scapegoat is a show of ignorance. To treat Greece like a weed in the Eurozone that needs to be eradicated is only causing the problem's proliferation. It's already a trying time for most people living in Europe without the need to point the finger at any one country.

Aesop's tale about the vegetable garden is particularly telling at this moment: A gardener was watering his crops when a passer-by asked him why all the weeds looked so fresh and healthy, while the plants he was growing were weak and wilted, or needed support to improve their growth. The gardener answered:

"Earth is mother to the weeds, so they proliferate and thrive on her love and attention, but Earth is only a step-mother to the plants that I am growing. I am burdening her by adding new species. Nourishing her own stock, she causes them to grow faster than the orphans which I plant."

The purslane, amaranth and nightshade spring up on their own every summer and continue to grow well despite being unattended; even when I pull each one out by the root, these weeds are never eradicated. Tomatoes do come up on their own from time to time (the seeds having lain dormant in the soil during the winter), but without man's help (they need training on a support rod and fertilisation), they will not provide crops, unlike the weeds which can be picked as they sprout, and need no help at all to grow.

And so it is with Greece, the weed of Europe. She is stomped on, hindered from growing, and attempts are made to make her disappear. She has been told to sell her islands, to open 'gyros' bank accounts, to leave the eurozone and basically to go to hell. But she doesn't seem to be going anywhere. She's staying put right where she is, seemingly thriving in some ways, even without any support beams.

The moral of Aesop's fable is that a mother is biased towards her own children rather than her foster children, and nobody can replace a real mother, as Gunther Grass warns:
Geistlos verkümmern wirst Du ohne das Land, dessen Geist Dich, Europa, erdachte.
(Deprived of spirit, You will perish without the Land, whose spirit created You, Europe.)

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